The Weekly Rewind: Week of January 21st


(Published by the Office of Research of the House of Representatives)

HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW
January 24, 2014

The House of Representatives adopted the conference committee report on S.22, the “SOUTH CAROLINA RESTRUCTURING ACT OF 2014 , legislation that provides for comprehensive changes to the organization and oversight of state government. The Senate subsequently adopted the conference report and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation abolishes the State Budget and Control Board and transfers the majority of the board’s functions, including facilities management, property services, vehicle fleet management, information technology, and human resources responsibilities, to a new Department of Administration that is established in the executive branch and headed by a director who is appointed by the Governor upon the advice and consent of the Senate. Composed of the same five public officials that make up the current Budget and Control Board (the Governor, Treasurer, Comptroller General, Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee, and Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee), the State Fiscal Accountability Authority is established to assume some of the board’s key responsibilities relating to the state’s finances. The State Fiscal Accountability Authority houses such offices as the State Auditor, the Procurement Services Division, and the Insurance Reserve Fund, and is given approval authority over all decisions that relate to the state’s bonded indebtedness, lending, and major transactions involving state property. A Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office is created comprising the Board of Economic Advisors and other components of the Budget and Control Board that relate to state revenue forecasts, the preparation of the state government budget in the legislature, estimation of the fiscal impact of proposed legislation, economic research, and precinct demographics. In addition to various restructuring initiatives, the legislation includes new provisions for the legislative oversight of executive departments that empower legislative committees to conduct periodic reviews and launch special investigations for the purpose of determining which state government programs continue to serve worthwhile purposes and which should be scaled back or eliminated altogether.

State Budget and Control Board Abolished

Effective July 1, 2015, the legislation abolishes the State Budget and Control Board and transfers its various divisions and responsibilities. The legislation provides for the elimination of at least sixty vacant full time employee positions within the board prior to the devolvement of its duties and functions.

Department of Administration

The legislation establishes the Department of Administration under the executive branch of state government to be headed by a director who is appointed by the Governor upon the advice and consent of the Senate. The following offices, divisions or components of the State Budget and Control Board, Office of Governor, or other agencies are transferred to and incorporated into the Department of Administration:

• Division of General Services encompassing Business Operations, Facilities Management, State Building and Property Services, and Agency Services, including surplus property, intrastate mail, parking, and state vehicle fleet management
• Office of Human Resources
• Division of State Information Technology including the Data Center, Telecommunications and Information Technology Services, the South Carolina Enterprise Information System, and the Division of Information Security
• Those portions of the State Budget Office necessary to create an Executive Budget Office
• Office of Economic Opportunity
• Developmental Disabilities Council
• Continuum of Care for Emotionally Disturbed Children
• Guardian Ad Litem Program
• Children’s Case Resolution System
• Division for the Review of the Foster Care of Children
• Client Assistance Program
• Division of Veterans’ Affairs
• Commission on Women
• Office of Victims Assistance, including the SC Victims Advisory Board and the Victims Compensation Fund
• Crime Victims’ Ombudsman
• Governor’s Office of Ombudsman
• Division of Small and Minority Business Contracting and Certification
• Nuclear Advisory Council
State Fiscal Accountability Authority

The legislation establishes the State Fiscal Accountability Authority which is composed of the same five public officials that make up the current Budget and Control Board: the Governor, who serves as chair; the State Treasurer; the Comptroller General; the Chairman of the Senate Finance Committee; and the Chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee. The State Fiscal Accountability Authority assumes all of the authority and responsibilities of the Budget and Control Board that relate to the issuance of bonds and bonding authority as well as grants, loans, and other forms of financial assistance. The State Fiscal Accountability Authority houses the Budget and Control Board’s Procurement Services Division, the State Auditor, the Insurance Reserve Fund, the Permanent Improvement Projects Authority, the Infrastructure Facilities Authority, and the Water Quality Revolving Fund Authority. The approval of the State Fiscal Accountability Authority is required for undertaking major permanent improvements and for sales, leases, and other transactions involving state property of significant value. The Authority selects an executive director for a four-year term, and the executive director may only be removed for certain causes, such as misconduct, incompetency, conflicts of interest, persistent neglect of duty, or incapacity.

Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office

The legislation establishes the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office to be governed by the three appointed members of the Board of Economic Advisors. The office is comprised of the Board of Economic Advisors, those portions of the Office of State Budget that are not transferred to the Department of Administration to form an Executive Budget Office, and the Office of Research and Statistics, which is made up of an Economic Research division and an Office of Precinct Demographics division. The legislation provides for the Board of Economic Advisors unanimously to select an Executive Director of the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office to serve a four year term. The executive director may only be removed for certain causes, such as misconduct, incompetency, conflicts of interest, persistent neglect of duty, or incapacity.

Other Transfers and Revisions

The Budget and Control Board’s Local Government Division, Water Resources Coordinating Council, and Division of Regional Development are transferred to the South Carolina Rural Infrastructure Authority.

The State Energy Office is transferred from the Budget and Control Board to the Office of Regulatory Staff.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control assumes responsibilities of the Budget and Control Board that relate to the regulation of geothermal resources and minerals and mineral interests on public land.

The South Carolina Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum is transferred from the Budget and Control Board to be governed by a new nine-member commission composed of gubernatorial and legislative appointees.

The legislation provides for four additional members of the Charleston Naval Complex Redevelopment Authority, establishes the Charleston Navy Base Museum Authority as a division of Redevelopment Authority, and assigns new duties relating to the Hunley Commission.

Appropriations Reductions and Agency Deficits

With the abolition of the Budget and Control Board, the legislation establishes a revised protocol for responding to state revenue shortfalls. Under the revisions, the Director of the Executive Budget Office is responsible for ordering the necessary across-the-board reductions in general fund appropriations within three days of when the Board of Economic Advisors, at the end of the first, second, or third quarter of any fiscal year, reduces its revenue forecast for the fiscal year by three percent or less below the amount projected when the general appropriations bill was ratified. If at the end of the first, second, or third quarter of any fiscal year, the Board of Economic Advisors reduces its revenue forecast by more than three percent, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives may call each respective house into session to take action to avoid a year end deficit. If the General Assembly has not taken action within twenty days of the BEA’s determination, the Director of the Executive Budget Office must make the required reductions in general fund appropriations.

The legislation includes the “State Agency Deficit Prevention and Recognition Act” which establishes the responsibility of each state agency, department, and institution to operate within the limits of appropriations, imposes reporting requirements concerning impending agency deficits, and prescribes steps that must be taken to counter deficits. Under the legislation, the General Assembly has exclusive authority over recognizing a state agency deficit through a joint resolution.

Legislative Oversight of Executive Departments

The legislation includes new provisions for the legislative oversight of executive departments that authorize legislative committees to conduct periodic reviews and launch special investigations for the purpose of determining which state government programs continue to serve worthwhile purposes and which should be scaled back or eliminated altogether. All agencies are subjected to a periodic review utilizing a seven-year rotation schedule in the standing committees that have subject matter jurisdiction. Authority is provided for a committee of the General Assembly to conduct special investigations, as needed, without regard to the usual seven-year schedule for agency review. Authority is provided for joint investigating committees. The chairman of the investigating committee may also direct the Legislative Audit Council to perform evaluations. All testimony given to the investigating committee must be under oath. All witnesses are entitled to counsel, and a witness shall be given the benefit of any privilege which he may have claimed in court as a party in a civil action. Anyone who wilfully gives false, materially misleading, or materially incomplete testimony under oath is guilty of the felony offense of contempt of the General Assembly subject to a fine within the discretion of the court and/or imprisonment for not more than five years. A person is guilty of criminal contempt when, having been duly subpoenaed to attend as a witness before an investigating committee of the General Assembly, he: fails or refuses to attend without lawful excuse; refuses to be sworn; refuses to answer any material and proper question; or, refuses, after reasonable notice, to produce books, papers, or documents in his possession or under his control which constitute material and proper evidence. A violator of this felony offense is subject to a fine within the discretion of the court and/or imprisonment for not more than five years.

Assessment of State Government Restructuring

In 2020, the Legislative Audit Council is required to conduct a performance review of the provisions of this legislation to determine its effectiveness and achievements with regard to the more efficient performance of the functions and duties of the various agencies and the cost savings and benefits to the state. Additionally, the scope of the Legislative Audit Council’s audits of state agencies is expanded to include determinations of whether organizations, programs, activities, or functions should be continued, revised, or eliminated

The House concurred in Senate amendments to S.308 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation replaces the current prohibition on carrying a pistol or firearm into a business that sells alcoholic liquor, beer, or wine for on-premises consumption with new provisions, commonly referred to as RESTAURANT CARRY PROVISIONS, that afford concealed weapon permit holders new legal authority to carry their firearms into bars, restaurants, and other establishments that serve beer, wine, or alcoholic liquor. A concealed weapon permit holder making use of these restaurant carry provisions is not allowed to consume alcohol on the premises. A concealed weapon permit holder must also comply with a proprietor’s requests to remove his firearm from the place of business or to leave the premises. A proprietor can prohibit the carrying of concealed weapons into the business by posting signs that comply with notification requirements. A concealed weapon permit holder who violates any of these restrictions is subject to a misdemeanor criminal offense that carries a fine of up to two thousand dollars and/or imprisonment for up to two years, and must have his concealed weapon permit revoked for a period of five years. Also, the legislation makes REVISIONS TO THE REQUIREMENTS AND PROCESS FOR RECEIVING A CONCEALED WEAPON PERMIT. Notably, the legislation provides that the permit is valid for five years rather than four years, broadens criteria for acceptable photographic identification, allows the State Law Enforcement Division to make all contact with a permit applicant through online communications if an applicant submits his application online, eliminates the requirement that an education course must be a minimum of eight hours, and allows individuals with pertinent military or law enforcement training to complete only the portion of the class reviewing state law. The legislation provides that a property owner or an agent acting on his behalf, by express written consent, may allow individuals of his choosing to enter the property carrying a concealed weapon regardless of any posted sign to the contrary. Additionally, the legislation provides that a CONCEALED WEAPON PERMIT HOLDER MAY SECURE HIS WEAPON UNDER A SEAT IN A VEHICLE, or in any open or closed storage compartment within the vehicle’s passenger compartment.

The House sustained the Governor’s veto on H.3342, relating to BENCH WARRANTS . This legislation provides that, after an initial appearance, a circuit court judge may not issue a general sessions court bench warrant for failure to appear in court upon motion by a solicitor, unless the solicitor has conspicuously posted a list of potential bench warrants at the appropriate courthouse and on the solicitor’s Internet website at least forty-eight hours before the bench warrant is requested.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3764, the “NONEMBRYONIC AND NONFETAL CELL THERAPY ACT”. This legislation creates legal rights within South Carolina regarding the use of embryonic and nonfetal cells; nothing in this legislation indicates whether these activities are authorized under federal law. Under this legislation, a person may be administered nonembryonic and nonfetal cells by himself or by a licensed medical practitioner, as long as the medical practitioner is authorized to deliver the cells in the mode used. A person may import a drug or treatment containing such cells for personal use into this state as long as it was not a violation of the laws of the state in which it was obtained. Additionally, medicines or other health products containing nonembryonic and nonfetal cells may be compounded within the state. Except as otherwise provided, no agency of the state or a local government may regulate activities involving nonembryonic and nonfetal cells nor may they penalize a person for conducting such activity. However, this legislation does not release a professional licensing board from its duty to oversee procedures for administration of cells or a person of liability for not using reasonable care, skill or knowledge when performing medical services.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4541 , a bill revising the restrictions placed on SETTING NETS FOR CERTAIN NONGAME FISH ALONG THE LITTLE PEE DEE RIVER upstream of Punch Bowl Landing.