The Weekly Rewind: Week of February 22nd

HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW
February 24, 2022

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H. 4880, a bill providing for income tax relief. The legislation provides for a lowest individual income tax bracket that is taxed at zero percent and collapses several tax brackets, currently subject to rates of three percent, four percent, five percent, and six percent, into a single tax bracket so that incomes falling in this middle range are all taxed at three percent. The legislation gradually reduces the rate for the highest tax bracket from seven percent to six percent under a schedule that phases in the tax relief in years when the state experiences sufficient revenue growth. Under this schedule, the seven percent top marginal rate is lowered to six and one half of one percent in Tax Year 2022. Afterwards, it is decreased by one tenth of one percent in a year when the state’s general fund revenues are projected to increase by at least five percent until the top marginal rate is lowered to six percent. This legislation, beginning with tax year 2022, also exempts all military retirement income from South Carolina individual income tax, regardless of the taxpayer’s age.

The House approved and sent the Senate Joint Resolution H. 3347, a proposed state constitutional amendment for increasing state financial reserve funds that are used to cope with revenue shortfalls. The proposed amendment provides for the state’s General Reserve Fund, currently set at five percent of General Fund revenue of the latest completed fiscal year, to be increased each year by half of one percent until it equals seven percent of General Fund revenue of the latest completed fiscal year. The proposed amendment increases the state’s Capital Reserve Fund from two percent of General Fund revenue of the latest completed fiscal year to three percent of such revenues. Should the General Assembly pass the joint resolution, these proposals for amending the South Carolina Constitution would be placed before the state’s voters as ballot questions at the next general election.

The House gave third reading and sent to the Senate H. 4939, a bill requiring the Department of Agriculture to develop a “Certified S.C. Raised Beef” designation, along with developing label and application process. The bill further outlines that a beef producer located in this state that meets all criteria is entitled to this designation.

The House gave third reading and sent to the Senate H. 4778, a bill that adds that an entity that has contracted for the right to store water in a reservoir owned by the US Army Corps of Engineers has exclusive rights to any return flows generated to that reservoir under the “Water Resources Planning and Coordination Act.” The bill further outlines that the “return flow” means water that is discharged directly or indirectly to a reservoir from a water recovery facility.

The House gave third reading and sent to the Senate H. 3598, a bill that creates the “Veterans Service Organization Burial Honor Guard Support Fund.” The purpose of this fund is to help offset the costs paid by South Carolina chapters of congressionally chartered veterans service organizations that provide well-equipped and properly trained honor guard burial details at the funerals of qualifying South Carolina veterans. This bill requires the Secretary of the SC Department of Veterans Affairs to authorize a disbursement from the fund not to exceed $100 per funeral. Revenues to the fund may include gifts, grants, federal funds, or donations, as well as funds appropriated by the General Assembly.

The House approved H. 4143, as amended by the committee, gave third reading and sent to the Senate, legislation dealing with the warning lights on tow wreckers. This bill outlines that a wrecker must use a mounted oscillating, rotating, or flashing light at an emergency scene and at any time when rendering roadside assistance.

The House approved H. 3538, as amended by the committee, gave third reading and sent to the Senate, legislation that requires the Department of Natural Resources to set conditions under the Alligator Management Program for the humane taking and disposition of alligators. The legislation adds that a person capturing alligators must take all reasonable precautions to protect the health and safety of members of the public and prevent direct contact between the public and captured alligators. Alligators only may be relocated or moved within the boundary of the parcel described on the depredation permit, unless written permission is given by the Department. Disposal of alligator carcasses into waters, ephemeral and intermittent streams, ditches, and swales is prohibited. In addition, disposal on any property without the landowner’s permission or at any public boat ramp is prohibited. It is also noted that no alligator may be held alive for more than eight hours and no live alligator may be transferred to another person unless with written permission from the Department. In addition, the legislation outlines that the official citation issued by enforcement officers may be use to cite violations.

The House gave third reading and sent to the Senate H. 4904, legislation that allows the Department of Natural Resources to obtain and utilize Schedule III Nonnarcotic and Schedule IV Controlled Substances for the capture and immobilization of wildlife. The department must apply for a Controlled Substance Registration Certificate from DEA and a state controlled substances registration from the Department of Health and Environmental Control. Only trained and certified department employees can provide the administration of tranquilizing agents.

The House gave third reading and sent to the Senate H. 4905, a bill that includes the reference of hybrid bass in the striped bass statutes.

The House gave third reading and sent to Senate H. 4906. In an effort to prevent the introduction or distribution of a disease, in particular the chronic waste disease, that affects the deer population, the bill outlines that upon declaration of a wildlife disease emergency by the Director of the Department of Natural Resources, after consulting with the Director of the Livestock Poultry Health Division (Clemson University), may promulgate regulations, among many things, to delineate disease management zones at any geographic scale; and declare temporary emergency open seasons.

The House gave third reading and sent to Senate H. 4907, legislation that updates the freshwater game fish laws to include other specifies of bass, such as the Alabama bass, and trout hybrids. The legislation outlines that it is illegal to sale game fish in this state.

The House gave third reading and sent to the Senate H. 4600, a bill that revises the priority list of persons who can make healthcare decisions for persons who are unable to do so. This bill is a result of a recommendation arising from the House Legislative Oversight Committee’s study of the Department of Mental Health completed in 2020. This bill modernizes the code of laws pertaining to persons authorized to make healthcare decisions for a DMH patient unable to consent so as to be consistent with 2019 legislative changes to a statute governing care for all adults unable to provide consent for treatment.

The House gave third reading and sent to Senate H. 4597, a bill that outlines that an individual who is in need of an anatomical gift shall not be deemed ineligible to receive an anatomical gift solely because of the individual’s physical or mental disability.

The House approved H. 3599, as amended by the committee, gave third reading and sent to Senate, a bill that enacts the Occupational Therapy Licensure Compact. This bill allows South Carolina to enter into a multistate licensure compact to provide for the reciprocal practice of occupation therapy among the states that are part of the compact. The purpose of this compact is to facilitate interstate practice of occupational therapy with the goal of improving public access to occupational therapy services. Nine states have enacted legislation to join the compact with several others underway. South Carolina currently has membership with the nursing and physical therapy compacts. The bill adds requirements for fingerprinting and criminal SLED background checks.

The House approved H. 3833, as amended by the committee, gave third reading and sent to Senate, a bill that allows for South Carolina Board of Examiners in Psychology Board to enter into the Psychology Inter-jurisdictional Compact (PSYPACT). This bill permits eligible psychologists to practice telepsychology and temporary in-person psychology across state boundaries. The bill additionally establishes the qualifications for licensure as a psychologist under PSYPACT and provides for the compact states’ rights and obligations. This bill will increase the deliverability of behavioral services to the citizens across South Carolina. The bill also adds the language requirements for fingerprinting and criminal SLED background checks.

The Senate non-concurred in the amendments proposed by the House to S. 16. On the motion of Rep. Allison, the House insisted upon its amendments. The Chair appointed Reps. Allison, Felder and Henderson-Myers to the Committee of Conference on the part of the House. The House amendment struck the bill in its entirety and inserts a new graduation requirement for both traditional and charter school students. Beginning with students entering ninth grade in the 2026-27 school year, a one-half credit course in basic personal finance must be completed to earn a diploma. This does not replace the economics course requirement as required in the original bill. Instead, students will take 6.5 units of elective credit instead of the seven now required. The standards must include the following: basic principles of personal finance; internet safety; use and responsibilities of loans and credit products; and health, life, automobile, and other insurance products.

After informing the House that it non-concurred in the amendments proposed by the House to S. 203 (on the subject of the removal of school district trustees and filling of vacancies) and after the House insisted on its amendments (appointing Reps. Felder, Brittain and Alexander to the committee of conference on the part of the House), the Senate appointed Senators Hembree, Bennett and Matthews to the Committee of Conference on the part of the Senate.