The Weekly Rewind: Week of April 25th

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NOTE: THESE SUMMARIES ARE PREPARED BY THE STAFF OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND ARE NOT THE EXPRESSION OF THE LEGISLATION’S SPONSOR(S) OR THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. THEY ARE STRICTLY FOR THE INTERNAL USE AND BENEFIT OF MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND ARE NOT TO BE CONSTRUED BY A COURT OF LAW AS AN EXPRESSION OF LEGISLATIVE INTENT.

HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW
April 29, 2016

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4776, the “SOUTH CAROLINA EDUCATION SCHOOL FACILITIES ACT”. The legislation makes provisions for state financial assistance to school districts, through such means as the issuance of state general obligation bonds and the awarding of grants, that must be used for permanent school instructional facilities, health and safety upgrades, technology access inside the school, and fixed building assets including the costs for construction, improvement, enlargement, or renovation of school facilities. The legislation does not provide financial assistance for unimproved real property, centralized school district administration facilities, or facilities normally identified with interscholastic sports activities. Under the legislation, the State Department of Education is charged with conducting a comprehensive study of all school districts’ facilities and physical assets and is assigned the responsibility of producing an annual prioritization report, with a total project cost that must not exceed two hundred million dollars, that ranks the qualified school projects. The department’s prioritization report must also provide a recommendation of whether financial assistance for a specific school project should be in the form of grants, loans or a combination of both. The legislation makes provisions for financial assistance to be allocated using the priorities established by the Office of School Facilities of the Department of Education as approved by the State Board of Education. Upon review of the information, the General Assembly may, through budget proviso or joint resolution, set the principal amount of the State School Facilities General Obligation Bonds to be considered. Upon approval of the Joint Bond Review Committee, the project prioritization report, with certification from the State Board of Education, must be submitted to the State Fiscal Accountability Authority in order for bonds to be issued. The legislation makes provisions for the State Board of Education to establish a revolving fund with such monies as may be appropriated by the General Assembly to operate a grant program that provides nonrecurring aid to school districts for facility maintenance expenses to include roof and heating and air conditioning repairs or replacements.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5006, a bill addressing RETIREMENT SYSTEM OVERSIGHT AND INVESTMENT MANAGEMENT. The legislation makes comprehensive revisions regarding the governance of the state’s pension systems and the investment of retirement system funds. The legislation clarifies that the Board of the Public Employee Benefit Authority is the sole governing body of the authority and revises terms for PEBA Board Members to provide for terms that are five years in duration and staggered. A member may not be appointed to serve more than two consecutive full five year terms. Rather than serving at the pleasure of the appointing authority, PEBA Board Members may be removed by the Governor only for cause. The PEBA Board must meet at least quarterly, rather than monthly. Provisions are made for the PEBA Board to employ an executive director to serve as the authority’s chief administrative officer and the fiduciary duties of the director are established. The legislation provides for revisions to the Retirement System Investment Commission that makes decisions regarding the investment of state pension funds. The legislation provides for an appointment by the Governor to Commission who is an active or retired member of the South Carolina Retirement System, Police Officers Retirement System, the Judges and Solicitors Retirement System, or the National Guard Retirement System. A commission member may not be appointed to serve more than two full five year terms. Further qualifications for RSIC members are established that require additional experience and financial expertise. South Carolina Retirement Investment Commission members appointed by the Governor or members of the General Assembly are added to the list of officers who may be removed by the Governor only for cause. The legislation makes provisions for the RSIC to employ an executive director and engage attorneys on a fee basis. The required audit of the Retirement System Investment Commission is revised so that the audit firm must be selected using the state’s Procurement Code. The legislation makes revisions relating to the investment of retirement system funds, by requiring the total amount of fees paid on investments to be reduced and ultimately capped at one half of one percent of the total value of the system’s assets. The legislation makes revisions relating to the assets of the retirement systems and investment of retirement system funds, so as to require the Public Employee Benefit Authority to hold the assets of the retirement systems in a group trust and to prohibit investments in certain money mortgages and real estate investment trusts. Provisions are included to preclude conflicts of interest in investments made by the Retirement System Investment Commission. Lobbyists are prohibited from contacting commission members or staff to solicit the investment of funds. The commission may not make an investment with or invest in a fund managed by an external investment manager if a placement agent receives compensation as a result of the commission’s investment. The commission is prohibited from investing in any asset or with any entity in which a commissioner has any interest, excluding such arrangements as index or mutual funds that are managed by a professional fund manager. The legislation creates the nine-member Review and Oversight Commission on the Retirement System Investment Commission, composed of the chairs of the two legislative budget-writing committees, or their designees, two members of the Senate appointed by the President Pro Tempore, two members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker of the House, and three gubernatorial appointees from the state at-large, one of whom must be an active member of the South Carolina Retirement System and one of whom must be an active member of the South Carolina Police Officers Retirement System. The Oversight Commission is charged with screening those appointed to serve on the Retirement System Investment Commission, receiving annual audits and other analysis required of the RSIC, conducting an oversight review of the RSIC and its operations at least once every two years, and undertaking any additional reviews, studies, or evaluations it considers necessary.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5007. This bill provides that the ASSUMED RATE OF RETURN FOR STATE RETIREMENT SYSTEM INVESTMENTS expires every four years unless action is taken by the General Assembly to revise it. If the General Assembly does not set the assumed rate of return prior to its expiration, the rate must be set by vote of the State Fiscal Accountability Authority.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3084, a bill providing ADDITIONAL TIME FOR COUNTING ABSENTEE BALLOTS by allowing the process of examining absentee ballot envelopes to begin at 9:00 a.m. on the day immediately prior to election day, rather than at 2:00 p.m. on election day. Before the counting of absentee ballots may begin, the county board of voter registrations and elections shall disclose the number of absentee ballots to be counted. This number may increase only if additional absentee ballots are received due to emergency hospital admission provisions, and a new total must be disclosed.

The House approved H.3167, legislation that adds to the list of acceptable forms of photographic identification that may be used to verify an elector’s identity at the polls so that a valid and current SOUTH CAROLINA RESIDENT CONCEALED WEAPON PERMIT MAY BE USED TO SATISFY VOTER IDENTIFICATION REQUIREMENTS.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4387, a bill PROHIBITING LAW ENFORCEMENT AGENCIES FROM REQUIRING OFFICERS TO MEET A QUOTA FOR THE NUMBER OF CITATIONS ISSUED. The legislation provides that law enforcement agencies, departments, or divisions, including municipal police departments, sheriff departments, the Highway Patrol, SLED, and other agencies that enforce state and local laws, may not require their law enforcement officers to issue a specific amount or meet a quota for the number of citations issued during a designated period of time. Law enforcement officer job performance reviews may be based on their conduct at points of contact with the community. An employee of a law enforcement agency, department, or division who files a report with an appropriate authority alleging a violation of these provisions is protected by the state’s “Whistle Blower Act”.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4970, legislation REQUIRING SLOWER MOVING VEHICLES TO TRAVEL IN THE FARTHEST RIGHT HIGHWAY LANE. The legislation requires the Department of Transportation to broadcast periodically on the electronic variable message boards along the state’s interstate highways, which are used for issuing Amber Alerts, messages that inform motorists traveling in slower moving vehicles that they must travel in the farthest right lane in either direction along all multilane portions of highways where appropriate. A motorist who violates this provision may be fined one hundred dollars. The legislation also revises PENALTIES FOR A MOTORIST’S FAILURE TO GIVE PROPER TURN SIGNALS by eliminating the four points assessed for the violation and instead providing that a violator must be fined twenty five dollars, all or part of which may not be suspended. In addition no court costs, assessments, surcharges, or points may be assessed against the person or his driving record.

The House approved S.1016, enacting EYE CARE CONSUMER PROTECTION provisions, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides that a person in this state may not dispense spectacles or contact lenses to a patient without a valid prescription from an individual licensed by the South Carolina Board of Examiners in Optometry or the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners. A prescription for spectacles or contact lenses may not be based solely on the refractive eye error of the human eye or be generated by an automated kiosk. Violations are subject to penalties established for misconduct by optometrists and physicians.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4999, legislation establishing provisions for IMMUNITY FROM CIVIL LEGAL LIABILITY FOR PROVIDING FREE HEALTH CARE SERVICES.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5193, a bill ENHANCING THE “SOUTH CAROLINA OVERDOSE PREVENTION ACT” by making provisions for more expansive dispensation of opioid antidotes to individuals who may be at risk of an opioid drug overdose.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5218, a bill declaring the month of May of every year as “WATER SAFETY AWARENESS MONTH” in South Carolina to promote an understanding of water safety practices and the critical importance of water safety in an effort to reduce drowning deaths among children in this state.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5172, the “SAFE HARBOR FOR EXPLOITED MINORS ACT”. The legislation establishes protections from criminal and civil liability for crime victims who are minors under the age of eighteen residing in or visiting this state engaging in commercial sexual acts or sex trafficking. Confidentiality provisions are established for prosecutions of human trafficking violations to prevent the release of the identities and records of minors who are crime victims. Provisions are included to guarantee a voluntary admission to shelters and other facilities for victims of human trafficking that is not conditional upon whether a whether a victim is cooperating with a law enforcement agency in its attempts to prosecute.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4835, the “SUPPORTING AND STRENGTHENING FAMILIES ACT”. The legislation establishes provisions that allow a parent or person with legal custody of a child to delegate to an adult, as attorney in fact, temporary caregiving authority regarding the child for a period not to exceed one year. The legislation makes provisions for caregiving authority to be delegated without the approval of a court by executing in writing a power of attorney and establishes requirements for full background checks, to include a criminal history record check, child abuse and neglect central registry check, and a sex offender registry check, before caregiving authority may be delegated. The delegated caregiving authority may include any power or authority regarding the care and physical custody of the child, except the power to consent to marriage or adoption of the child, the performance or inducement of an abortion on or for the child, enlistment in the armed forces, major nonemergency medical and surgical treatment, and the termination of parental rights to the minor child. The attorney in fact for a child has the right to enroll the child in a public school serving the area where the attorney in fact resides and may enroll the child in a private school, kindergarten, prekindergarten, home study program, or childcare facility. Members of the United States Armed Forces who are deployed and others who are called to active duty may take advantage of these provisions for delegating caregiving authority for a period longer than one year if on active duty service. The term of delegation, however, may not exceed the term of active duty service plus thirty days.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4546, a bill ENHANCING REQUIREMENTS AND REVIEWS REGARDING CHILDREN PLACED IN FOSTER CARE. Notably, the legislation includes provisions for adhering to a “reasonable and prudent parent standard” characterized by careful and sensible parental decisions that maintain the health, safety, and best interests of a child while at the same time encouraging the growth and development of the child, that a caregiver shall use when determining whether to allow a child in foster care to participate in age or developmentally appropriate extracurricular, enrichment, cultural, and social activities. The Department of Social Services is required to use its best efforts to normalize the lives of children in foster care by allowing a caregiver, without the department’s prior approval, to make decisions similar to those a parent would be entitled to make regarding a child’s participation in age or developmentally appropriate activities. In determining whether to allow a child in foster care to participate in an activity, a caregiver must exercise the reasonable and prudent parent standard. DSS must provide to a foster child a document describing the rights of the child regarding education, health, visitation, court participation, and the right to stay safe and avoid exploitation, and obtain a signed acknowledgement from the child upon receipt.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4547, a bill REVISING AGES WHEN INDIVIDUALS ARE CONSIDERED CHILDREN AND JUVENILES under various statutes.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4029, legislation enacting ALIMONY REFORM provisions. The legislation creates a new type of alimony, transitional alimony, which is awarded as a form of short term support when the Family Court finds that rehabilitation is not required, but that the economically disadvantaged spouse needs financial assistance in adjusting to the economic consequences of the divorce. Transitional alimony is designed to aid a spouse who already possesses the capacity for self sufficiency but needs financial assistance in adjusting to the economic consequences of establishing and maintaining a household without the benefit of the other spouse’s income. The legislation provides that, if a marriage lasts less than ten years, the court must first consider alternate forms of alimony before awarding periodic alimony and make findings as to why alternate forms are not awarded when periodic alimony is awarded. The legislation eliminates requirements that continued cohabitation necessarily involves a period of at least ninety days when the court is making a determination of whether the supported spouse resides with another person in a romantic relationship. When the retirement by the supporting spouse prompts a hearing to evaluate whether there has been a change of circumstances for alimony, the legislation requires the court to consider social security received by the supported spouse as a result of the supporting spouse’s social security benefit.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.5021, the “ADULT STUDENTS WITH DISABILITIES EDUCATIONAL RIGHTS CONSENT ACT”. The legislation establishes procedures and policies through which adult students who are eligible for special education under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act may delegate authority over their educational program to agents or representatives. Under this bill, an adult student who is eligible for special education under IDEA and who is not determined to be incapacitated in probate court can delegate his or her right to make educational decisions to an agent or representative on a form prescribed by the Department of Education. An adult student under IDEA who has not been determined to be incapacitated, but may be identified (by certain medical professionals) as unable to provide informed consent may have an educational representative designated.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.5278, a joint resolution affording access to certain funding relating to the federal INDIVIDUALS WITH DISABILITIES ACT (IDEA).

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4661, a bill relating to ACCEPTABLE PIPING MATERIAL IN LOCAL GOVERNMENT PROCUREMENT PROJECTS utilizing state funds. The legislation provides that county governments, municipalities, school districts, water or sewer districts, special purpose districts, and other governmental agencies are required to consider all piping material in determining project requirements when state funds are used for a water supply, wastewater, stormwater, or storm drainage project. These provisions do not prohibit an official or an engineer of the governmental agency from choosing a piping material in its discretion for such projects.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.5034, a bill making CHARITABLE BINGO GAME REVISIONS. The legislation requires the Department of Revenue to establish an informational charitable bingo webpage on its website to serve as a clearinghouse for information and access to the Bingo Tax Act and its implementation and regulation, including access to licensure information, the manner in which to file complaints, and clarification on issues the department finds in connection with violations of the Bingo Tax Act. The webpage must also include a process for submitting questions to the bingo division of the department. The department shall post official minutes of meetings, including committee responses to each bingo inquiry. The percentage of bingo revenues that is distributed to charity is increased from twenty-six percent to twenty-eight percent. The legislation revises procedures applicable to the conduct of bingo, so as to increase the allowance for promotions from one hundred dollars to two hundred dollars. The legislation redefines ‘building’ under the definitions of the Bingo Tax Act to provide that it is any structure used or intended for supporting or sheltering any use or occupancy designated by a separate address, provided the structure does not include any interior access to another area where bingo is played. Bingo provisions are revised to exclude certain raffles. The legislation makes revisions relating to the manner of playing bingo, so as to provide the manner in which certain devices must be operated. The Department of Revenue is afforded forty-five days, rather than the current thirty days, to approve or reject applications for a bingo license by nonprofit organizations and promoters. The legislation revises provisions relating to bingo checking and savings accounts, so as to allow the promoter to make certain contributions and to allow for electronic payments.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4765, a bill to provide for the ADDITION OF A HABITAT FOR HUMANITY CHECK OFF ON INCOME TAX FORMS. The legislation provides for an expansion of the voluntary contributions that an individual may make by means of a South Carolina income tax return check off, by adding a check off for the South Carolina Association of Habitat for Humanity Affiliates on the tax form.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4416, a bill establishing IMPACT FEE EXEMPTIONS FOR SCHOOLS AND VOLUNTEER FIRE DEPARTMENTS. The legislation revises exemptions from development impact fees imposed by local governments on new construction, so as to add exemptions for the construction of new elementary, middle, and secondary schools and the construction of new volunteer fire departments.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.5009, a bill that makes REVISIONS TO THE TEXTILES COMMUNITIES REVITALIZATION INCOME TAX CREDIT, so as to eliminate a provision that limits the credit to fifty percent of income tax, corporate license fee, and insurance premium tax liability.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.5011, a bill that makes provisions for the REIMPOSITION OF A LOCAL OPTION TOURISM DEVELOPMENT FEE that allow for a municipality’s use of a portion of the fee for tax relief to continue without interruption.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5078, a bill that makes revisions regarding LOCALLY-IMPOSED SALES TAXES. The legislation makes revisions in various local sales and use tax provisions, so as to define “general election” as the election for federal and state officers in this State which is held on the first Tuesday following the first Monday in November in each even numbered year. The legislation revises provisions relating to the Capital Projects Sales Tax Act, so as to provide that the tax must terminate on April thirtieth of an odd or even numbered year.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4762, a bill relating to EXCEPTIONS TO LIMITATIONS ON MILLAGE RATE INCREASES. The legislation revises provisions relating to the limitation on millage rate increases and exceptions to this limitation, so as to revise the exception to this limitation for the purchase of capital equipment and other expenditures in a county having a population of less than one hundred thousand persons and having at least forty thousand acres of state forest land by providing for this minimum acreage requirement to include state or national forest land. Currently, only state forest land acreage is counted under this exception.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5077, a bill REVISING BOND PROVISIONS. The legislation revises provisions relating to the payment of bonds by a joint authority water and sewer system, so as to allow a lien to be placed on the authority’s property in accordance with the Revenue Bond Act for Utilities. The legislation eliminates the $250 million cap on bonds for financing research university infrastructure projects. The legislation also eliminates obsolete provisions governing schools facilities bonds that have already been satisfied.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.5270, a bill expanding provisions for payroll deductions for state employees’ association dues by ALLOWING MEMBERSHIP DUES FOR THE SOCIETY OF FORMER AGENTS OF THE STATE LAW ENFORCEMENT DIVISION TO BE DEDUCTED FROM THE COMPENSATION OF STATE RETIREES and paid over to the association in the same manner other membership dues are deducted and paid.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.5119, relating to the SOUTH CAROLINA STATE GUARD. The legislation clarifies the circumstances authorizing the Governor to call the State Guard into duty and to provide that circumstances involving a natural or manmade disaster, emergency, or emergency preparedness may warrant calling the State Guard into service. Compensation provisions for State Guard members are revised to provide that they may receive a daily stipend or per diem pay for reasonable expenses, or both, if approved by the Adjutant General. The legislation revises the criteria for the individual income tax deduction for guard members by allowing State Guard members to satisfy the training and drilling requirements with a yearly total of hours rather than by completing a required number of hours each month. The legislation revises provisions relating to legal assistance services for guard members and immediate family members, so as to authorize South Carolina State Guard Judge Advocates to provide these services and to include them within the personal liability exemption.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4845, a bill addressing PAYMENTS FOR SERVICES WHEN A BODY IS TRANSFERRED FROM ONE FUNERAL HOME, FUNERAL DIRECTOR, OR EMBALMER TO ANOTHER. The legislation establishes a cause of action in magistrate’s court to address situations when one funeral home, funeral director, or embalmer transfers a dead human body to second funeral home, funeral director, or embalmer who does not properly compensate the first provider for services rendered.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5089, a bill addressing LIENS ON MOTOR VEHICLES. The legislation modifies certain definitions related to commercial trucks and weights and motor homes. Moreover, any liens or encumbrances on a motor vehicle or titled mobile home must be noted on the printed title or electronically through the Department of Motor Vehicles’ Electronic Title and Lien System. The department transmittal must be done electronically for business entities or by paper certificate for nonbusiness entities (persons purchasing vehicles for personal use from persons selling vehicles they have used primarily for personal use). All businesses and commercial lienholders who are regularly engaged in the business or practice of selling motor vehicles as dealers or in the business or practice of financing motor vehicles will use the electronic lien system to transmit and receive electronic lien information. Liens on a vehicle titled by South Carolina, except upon vehicles defined as motor homes, mobile homes, special mobile equipment, or commercial trucks, are to be deemed effective for a period of twelve years from the date the lien was perfected. The effectiveness of the lien lapses at the end of this twelve-year period unless a continuation statement is filed. The responsibility of lien continuation lies with the lender. The twelve-year effective lien period refers to the age of the lien, not the age of the vehicle.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4215, a bill enacting the “MANAGED TIDAL IMPOUNDMENT PRESERVATION ACT”. The legislation exempts property that is deemed eligible under a general permit issued by the United States Army Corp of Engineers from state Department of Health and Environmental Control permitting requirements for routine, normal, or emergency maintenance or repair activities of tidal impoundment fields and adjacent nontidal fields. These coastal properties are commonly former rice fields that are now being used as duck hunting preserves.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3449, a bill to provide that the Department of Natural Resources may issue a recreational license to someone who is at least sixty-five years old for the USE OF HOOP NETS ALONG THE WATEREE RIVER. The legislation includes a sunset provision so that these provisions for recreational licenses along with provisions for commercial hoop net licenses along the Wateree River, are repealed on January 1, 2021.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.5118, a bill revising provisions governing the operation of golf carts along the state’s highways by providing AUTHORITY FOR CERTAIN COASTAL MUNICIPALITIES AND COUNTIES TO ADOPT ORDINANCES THAT ALLOW GOLF CARTS TO BE OPERATED AT NIGHT if they are equipped with working headlights and rear lights. This authority applies only within a county that has a barrier island.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.4728, a bill enacting EYE CARE CONSUMER PROTECTION provisions. The legislation provides that a person in this state may not dispense spectacles or contact lenses to a patient without a valid prescription from an individual licensed by the South Carolina Board of Examiners in Optometry or the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners. A prescription for spectacles or contact lenses may not be based solely on the refractive eye error of the human eye or be generated by an automated kiosk. Violations are subject to penalties established for misconduct by optometrists and physicians.

The House gave second reading approval to H.5245, which provides authorization for a manufacturer, brewer, importer, or retailer to offer consumers COUPONS AND REBATES FOR THE PURCHASE OF BEER, including retailer instant redeemable coupons, mail in rebates, and coupons and rebates offered or redeemed through any electronic means.

The House rejected H.3039, legislation to enact the “DILAPIDATED BUILDINGS ACT”.

The House voted to continue H.5037, legislation REVISING SIGNED WITNESS REQUIREMENTS FOR ABSENTEE BALLOTS.