Update from State House – May 11

Roads Bill becomes law – just in time

Sine Die (Latin meaning “without a fixed day”) Adjournment occurred this past Thursday, May 11, 2017, at 5:00 pm and marked the end of this year’s general legislative session. For a bill to have become law this year, it would have needed to pass both legislative chambers by Sine Die. This always adds increased pressure in the final week of legislative session.

While my House colleagues and I passed many significant pieces of legislation this week, the most anticipated action was the passage of a bill to fix our roads and bridges. The House and Senate hammered out an agreement that had enough support to pass both legislative bodies. In its final form, the roads bill:

* Reforms the Department of Transportation

* Provides real accountability and transparency at the department of Transportation (public records, mandated meetings, ethical requirements for commissioners)

* Gives Governor complete control of the Commission with a clear line of authority and at-will removal

* Provides Sustainable Long-Term Funding

* Creates a long-term and sustainable funding stream by increasing the motor fuel user fee by 2 cents/gallon over the next 6 years, not exceeding 12 cents/gallon

* Safeguards taxpayers from future automatic tax increases by not indexing for inflation

* Protects SC taxpayers from continuing to solely foot the bill for infrastructure repair by not using General Fund dollars and captures 30% of the motor fuel user fee revenue from out-of-state motorists

* Creates an Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund to ensure all new revenue collected from the motor fuel user fee is used only for existing infrastructure needs

* Does not increase or change fees for South Carolina driver’s license applications or renewals

* Delivers Responsible Offsetting Tax Relief

* Includes responsible tax relief to offset the user fee increase for South Carolina motorists
Offers a refundable income tax credit equal to the motor fuel user fee increase that must be reauthorized prior to 2023

* Enhances already existing College Tuition Tax Credit for every South Carolina tuition-payer to enhance workforce development

For years, I have heard from many of you about the need to fix our roads. While the Senate FINALLY passed something this year (after the House had sent them something for the past 3 years that was killed by filibuster), Governor McMaster vetoed the bill. The very next day, the House and Senate overwhelmingly overrode that veto when 127 Representative and Senators from all across our state, chose people over politics, and supported the compromise legislation. For the record, only 30 officials voted against the bill. Many inside and outside the chamber feel those votes may have been more political than anything else.

The House will come back in a few weeks for a specialized session to vote on the remaining conference reports, including a final budget once the House and Senate have reached a final agreement. After that, we should be back to our full-time jobs and families until December or January 2018. I hope to see you around town and will certainly keep you posted on community and other events during the summer and fall. If you do not receive my regular COMMUNITY UDPATE emails, please email me at the address below and ask to be added to the distribution list.

Thank you again for the honor of serving you and your family in the General Assembly. If you ever find yourself in need of assistance navigating state government, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with my colleagues in the House, please don’t hesitate to contact me at www.nathansnews.com, calling my State House Office at 734-2969, or emailing me at NathanBallentine@schouse.gov.