Search Results for: open carry

Open Carry Law – what you need to know August 15th

For background information, click here .

Did you know? 45 states allow “Open Carry”.

Next week, the House Judiciary Committee will debate H. 3096 . Simply put, the bill as currently written, would allow gun owner who have training to carry handguns in public.

This topic generates a lot of debate from both sides of the aisle and I’m curious to your thoughts?

Some think the bill doesn’t go far enough – asking “why should our 2nd amendment be restricted by having a training requirement”?

Others think the bill would lead to the “Wild West” and think we have too many guns on the street already.

During my research I’ve learned many things. One bit of information is the title of this post that means only 5 states do NOT allow Open Carry. That puts us (SC) with California, New York, Illinois and Florida. I also learned that technically a SC resident can OPEN CARRY a “long gun” (ie, rifle, shotgun) currently. Who knew?

Email me at NathanBallentine@schouse.gov and let me know your thoughts. Remember, if you’re a constituent, please put the word CONSTITUENT in the subject line and let me know your address so I know how those in our community feel.

Twenty five years later, SC no longer like NY and CA

Yesterday, the House passed H. 3094, the Open Carry with Training Act, by an overwhelming vote of 82-33.

While some gun groups think H. 3094 does not go far enough, this is a huge step for South Carolina. If passed by the Senate, the legislation would bring South Carolina in line with 45 other states that have some type of open carry of a handgun. Currently, South Carolina is one of 5 states that does not have ANY type of open carry of a handgun, putting us in the group with New York, California, Florida, and Illinois. We can do better.

The House will also consider another standalone bill H. 3096 which passed out of the full House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday and is scheduled for floor debate in mid April. This bill is commonly referred to as the Constitutional Carry bill which requires no training.

I caught some grief yesterday from those that don’t know me and thought I was “anti-gun” (obviously they don’t follow me on Facebook with my hunting pics). What was their grief? They were upset that the House voted down an amendment that would have said “carry without training” – which is what H 3096 allows. Fifty Republicans voted this down along with Democrats. Why? Because a bill to allow that is coming to the floor and there was no need to risk placing that amendment on H. 3094. Many times, floor amendments end up hurting more than helping and many times amendment language is inartfully (and quickly) drawn. Obviously any floor amendments have not been vetted during the subcommittee and committee process to truly weigh the cause/effect.

If H. 3096 (Constitutional Carry) passes later next month, that would mean two strong, pro-Second Amendment bills will have been sent to the Senate for consideration. If you have any opinion on the upcoming H.3096 bill (Constitutional Carry – aka no training required), please continue to let me know.

The Weekly Rewind – Week of March 16


2021-22 State Budget

This week, the House Ways and Means Committee worked diligently putting the final touches on our state’s budget to send to the full House for consideration. The Committee unanimously passed a conservative bill that will likely hit the floor the week of March 22nd for debate. We took into account the recommendations made in Governor McMaster’s executive budget that focuses on COVID-19 relief, pay raises for law enforcement and rebuilding our state’s reserve fund.

This year’s budget recognizes the uncertainties caused by the pandemic. It also invests millions of dollars in K-12 education and our state’s struggling hospitality industry to recover from devastating COVID-19 impacts.

Here are some of this year’s budget highlights:
– $500M Fund for pandemic stabilization
– Relief fund allocating $50M in the case of a devastating natural disaster
– 30% expansion of the state’s 4K program
– Funding for a school nurse in EVERY South Carolina school
– Step Increase Pay Raises for Law Enforcement Officers
– PTSD treatment for Law Enforcement and Firefighters
– $30M to expand broadband internet access in rural and underserved areas
– Grants for Tourism Marketing following COVID-19 pandemic’s hit on tourism industry

Open Carry with Training Act

This week, the Open Carry with Training Act (H. 3094) passed the full House Judiciary Committee. This bill, introduced by Rep. Bobby Cox, protects the right of citizens to openly carry a firearm given sufficient training and appropriate certifications. There are many not satisfied with this compromise – but that usually means we must have done something right. Some feel there are “too many guns” already and think passage of the bill would lead to the “wild west”. Others feel there should be NO training restrictions in place. I’ve heard from many of you and it seems most are practical by understanding training (very much like current training to carry a concealed weapon) is acceptable.

Teachers & Law Enforcement to be Vaccinated Beginning Monday

This week, the Governor announced the great news that South Carolina is moving into Phase 1b of the COVID-19 vaccination plan. Additionally, we have seen many more vaccination sites opening around the state and with this week’s approval of the Johnson & Johnson vaccination, we are finally arriving on the other side of the pandemic. Here is what we know:

Starting March 8th, the following groups may schedule an appointment to receive their vaccine:
– Anyone over the age of 55
– People 16 and over who have a high-risk medical condition
– Teachers, store clerks, law enforcement and other frontline jobs that put an individual within 6ft of other people for more than 15 minutes
Visit https://scdhec.gov/covid19/covid-19-vaccine-allocation for more information

As of March 4th, over 995,309 doses of the COVID-19 vaccination have been given in South Carolina. This is due to the hard work and sacrifice made by volunteers, medical professionals, the National Guard, and many other folks in our State. I am proud and thankful for the progress we continue to make and the fellowship our state has shown during these tough times.

COVID-19 NEWS: On Friday, Governor Henry McMaster modified his COVID-19 emergency orders, returning remaining state employees back to the workplace full-time. Additionally, the face-covering requirement in state government building and offices has been dissolved to a recommendation. For more info, https://sc.gov.

Resources and Helplines:
– DHEC Care Line: 1-855-472-3432
– COVID-19 Vaccine Information Line: 1-866-365-8110
– Find a vaccine location near you here: https://vaxlocator.dhec.sc.gov
– Information about qualifying for SBA loans: https://www.sba.gov/page/coronavirus-covid-19-small-business-guidance-loan-resources
– Mental health/substance abuse services related to COVID-19: 1-844-724-6737
– For other COVID-19 resources, visit the Accelerate SC website: https://accelerate.sc.gov
– To see if you may qualify for unemployment, visit: https://dew.sc.gov
– For updates from the Governor, visit https://governor.sc.gov

As always, please call my office (803)734-2969 anytime you need assistance with state government OR anytime you have suggestions/advice on how to improve our quality of life. It’s an honor to serve you and your family in Columbia and I hope you’ll call me anytime you need help!

The Weekly Rewind: Week of April 5th

House Floor Review
April 7, 2022

The House amended, gave third reading and sent to the Senate H. 4608, the “Save Women’s Sports Act.” The bill expresses the intent of General Assembly “to maintain opportunities for female athletes…and to provide them with…numerous other long-term benefits that result from participating and competing in athletic endeavors.” Athletic teams and sports must adopt a sex-specific designation in order to “maintain fairness for women’s athletic opportunities.”

The following activities are covered by the bill: interscholastic, intercollegiate, intramural, and club athletic teams sponsored by a public secondary school or public postsecondary institution. Teams or sports must be expressly designated as one of the following: males, men, or boys; females, women, or girls; or, coed or mixed (both males and females). Male sports or teams may allow female participation; however, female sports or teams are not open to males.
For the purposes of the bill, biological sex is determined at a team or sport member’s birth. A birth certificate is considered to correctly state an athlete’s biological sex if it is filed at, or near, the time of their birth. Students subjected to retaliation or other adverse actions by a school, public postsecondary institution, or athletic organization for reporting a violation of the law may file a private cause of action for injunctive relief, damages, and other relief available under law. Schools or public postsecondary institutions that suffer direct or indirect harm as a result of a violation of this section may bring a private cause of action for injunctive relief, damages, and any other relief available under law against the governmental entity, licensing or accrediting organization, or athletic association.

The House sent H. 5215 to the Senate. The bill authorizes a “University of South Carolina 2017 and 2022 Women’s Basketball National Champions’ Special License Plates.”

H. 3205 Constitutional Convention of the States was ratified as R. 141, and then sent to the Governor for his signature. It authorizes making an application to the US Congress to call a convention for proposing constitutional amendments pursuant to the US Constitution, Article V. The scope of this convention is limited to proposing amendments that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and Congressional members.

The House approved and sent the Senate H. 5198, a bill to restructure the University of South Carolina Board of Trustees. The legislation provides for the terms of the current elected and appointed trustees to expire on June 30, 2023, and makes provisions for a reconstituted board that is reduced in number from twenty to thirteen voting members (with no holdovers allowed).

Under the revisions, the General Assembly elects one board member from each of the state’s seven congressional districts, rather than from the sixteen judicial circuits. The General Assembly elects four at-large members each of whom must reside in a county in which the University of South Carolina operates a branch campus. No board member can reside in the same county as another board member. The legislation establishes a two-year term for the Chairman of the Board of Trustees and provides that a Chairman may serve no more than two terms.

The Governor appoints two at-large members. In addition, the Governor cannot preside over any meeting of this board. In addition to these thirteen voting members, the reconstituted board has three nonvoting ex-officio members: the governor, the president of the Greater University of South Carolina Alumni Association, and the president of the student body of the University of South Carolina’s Columbia campus. In any event, the student body president’s term will last while they serve as such, and no longer.

Elections will be held to set up this newly-constituted board, and initial board members’ terms staggered so that all board positions will not expire at the same time again. Nothing in these revisions prevents current board members from seeking re-election to this board.

The House approved the proposed committee amendment, gave third reading and sent to the Senate H. 3840, a bill that establishes the “Audiology and Speech-Language Interstate Compact Act.” The purpose of this compact is to facilitate interstate practice of audiology and speech-language pathology with the goal of improving public access to the services. Among many things, this bill sets minimum education and training requirements for audiologist and speech language pathologist in member states. In addition, a participating licensee must have a current unrestricted license to practice in home state and must have no history of disciplinary actions or criminal records that violates the rules of the compact. The bill adds that the department shall require a national criminal records check, supported by fingerprints, by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The House approved the proposed committee amendment, gave second reading, and sent to the Senate H. 4614, a bill that allows Sunday hunting on wildlife management area (WMA) lands owned by the Department of Natural Resources or leased from the USDA Forest Service. Currently, there is a ban on Sunday hunting. The department must submit a regulation dealing with Sunday hunting to be filed for General Assembly review no later than December 31, 2022. The bill also includes that prior to final regulation submission, the regulation shall be referred to the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee for approval. This bill outlines that the purchaser/buyer of real property is solely responsible for investigating off site conditions of the property including but not limited to adjacent properties being used for agricultural purposes.
The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H. 5057, annual tax conformity legislation. The legislation updates references to the federal Internal Revenue Code in state income tax law provisions to provide for coordination between state and federal income tax law provisions. For tax year 2021, South Carolina adopts the federal exclusion from gross income for targeted Economic Injury Disaster Loan advances received from the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the federal exclusion from gross income for restaurant revitalization grant amounts received from the SBA as provided in the American Rescue Plan Act.

H. 3730 was ratified as R. 142, and then sent to the Governor for his signature. This bill would provide the additional circumstance of “other on-track equipment” (e.g., maintenance equipment) that would require a driver of a motor vehicle to stop a vehicle approaching a railroad grade crossing in order to obey a signal that indicates an approaching train. The House earlier concurred in the Senate’s amendments to H. 3730. The Senate deleted a section that included restrictions and fines on railroad companies for loitering locomotives and tardy trains, believing this to be a federal prerogative.
H. 4618 was ratified as R. 144, and then sent to the Governor for his signature. The bill regards bus definitions and stopping requirements at railroad tracks. The House amendment also clarified stopping requirements involving hazardous materials. These changes conform with federal law.
The House amended, gave third reading and sent to the Senate H. 4999, legislation giving DHEC another method to address hazardous waste cleanup. The legislation introduces the option of doing a site specific cleanup approach using a risk-based methodology, which means that each site would be viewed individually and evaluated with respect to its specific circumstances and risks posed to that site, its neighbors, air, land, surface, and groundwater. Current and future planned uses would also be taken into account. Current hazardous waste cleanup laws have not been really updated in the last 40 years, and this legislation takes into account that incidents do not need the same clean up approach. This, as a result, allows for a quicker turn around in the cleanup process. It is noted that some hazardous waste cannot be cleaned up to a suitable level and would require land use restrictions for the property. [Read more…]

Chapin Bilo to become Lowe’s Foods

From ColaDaily.com

Alex Lee Inc. announced Tuesday that the company will be purchasing 20 BI-LO stores in South Carolina and Georgia from Southeastern Grocers Inc.

Five locations across the state will become Lowes Foods, including two Midlands stores. The BI-LO in Chapin at 1419 Chapin Rd., and in Columbia at 120 Forum Dr. will be converted to Lowes. The grocery stores will remain open as BI-LO until the transaction is complete, which is expected to take place over a staggered period from September to November, pending customary closing requirements.

Lowes Foods will do a complete conversion of the stores by next summer to introduce the full Lowes shopping experience, including its specialty shopping areas called Lowes Foods Originals.

When the stores initially rebrand this fall, shoppers will begin to see the products from several Lowes Foods Originals including packaged Smokehouse ribs and BBQ, SausageWorks sausages as well as Chicken Kitchen products including fried chicken, rotisserie chicken, chicken wings and in-store made chicken salad and chicken pot pies. The expanded wine department will feature Sunmill Direct, an assortment of wine sourced directly from vineyards around the world. The bakery areas will also carry Lowes Foods’ popular L’Oven fresh cookies.

The store delis will feature Boar’s Head meats and cheeses, and the beef selection will include Certified Angus Beef®. In addition, the stores will have an expanded produce section to include more organic and specialty products and a larger floral department featuring orchids, bouquets, and balloons.

The other 15 stores acquired by Alex Lee Inc. will be converted to KJ’s Market IGA, including one BI-LO in the Midlands located at 249 West Columbia Ave., Batesburg.

“We are excited to add these new locations to our retail store portfolio,” said Brian George, President & CEO, Alex Lee, Inc. “We have an opportunity to accelerate our growth in these markets while continuing to provide shoppers with a unique grocery shopping experience in their local communities.”

According to officials from Alex Lee, there will be more than 2,000 employees hired to continue serving the communities where the 20 stores are located. Prior to the completion of the transaction, representatives plan to meet with current BI-LO employees in those stores to discuss employment opportunities.

Alex Lee is a family-owned and operated company based in Hickory, NC.

2017 Legislative Overview

Written by the House Research Office as a summary of major legislation enacted this year. The overview does not refer to the budget provisions that have been vetoed by the Governor

During the first year of the 122nd South Carolina General Assembly, lawmakers approved comprehensive infrastructure funding and governance legislation (H.3516) that includes reform measures for the operation of the Department of Transportation and provides, along with $105 million in ongoing yearly tax relief, new, recurring revenue sources to allow an additional $625 million each year for addressing South Carolina’s deteriorating roads and supporting the infrastructure system needed for public safety, quality of life, and economic development. In order to increase infrastructure funding by an estimated $177 million in the first year and an estimated $625 million a year upon full implementation, the legislation increases existing fees and establishes new fees to allow for more effective collection of revenue from all those who make use of South Carolina’s roads, including out-of-state residents and businesses. The legislation provides for an increase in the state’s motor fuel user fee of 12 cents a gallon that is phased in gradually with an increase of 2 cents each year over the course of six years. The increase is expected to generate $69 million in the first year and ultimately allow for an additional $480 million each year for the state’s roads. An increase is phased in for the C-Funds that are distributed to counties which ultimately allows for an additional $53 million a year for repairs, maintenance, and improvements to the state secondary highway system. Provisions are included for a $50 million DOT Rural Road Safety Program. A $16 dollar increase is provided for the state’s biennial motor vehicle registration fees to generate an estimated $25 million a year. New fees are established for vehicles that make little or no use of the gasoline and other motor fuels that have been the traditional revenue source for infrastructures needs. Biennial fees of $60 for hybrid vehicles and $120 for electric vehicles are established to generate an estimated $1.35 million a year. The state’s motor vehicle sales tax is replaced with an infrastructure maintenance fee. For a vehicle purchased in South Carolina, the one-time infrastructure maintenance fee is set at 5% with a cap of $500 and is collected by dealers at the point of sale. The fee is expected to generate $74 million each year. For a vehicle purchased in another state and registered in South Carolina, the one-time fee is set at 5% with a $250 cap. Collected by the Department of Motor Vehicles upon initial registration, the fee is expected to produce $20 million a year in previously uncaptured revenue. Active duty military, spouses, and dependents are exempt from this fee for transferring vehicles into the state. In order to collect revenue from out-of-state truckers, a motor carrier road use fee is imposed on large commercial vehicles that is expected to generate $9 million a year in new revenue. Almost all of the new revenue generated by the legislation is to be deposited in a newly-created Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund to be used by the Department of Transportation only for repairs, maintenance, and improvements to the existing transportation system. The legislation includes a restructuring of the Commission overseeing the South Carolina Department of Transportation that retains the commission’s geographical representation and adds an additional at-large position, with all nine DOT commissioners appointed by the Governor, subject to a legislative approval process. All nine DOT commissioners serve at the Governor’s pleasure and may be removed without legislative approval. Provisions are included to remove the Commission from decisions involving the day-to-day operations of the Department of Transportation. To prevent conflicts of interest, Commissioners are prohibited from participating in such matters as awarding contracts and selecting consultants. As the state’s fees on gasoline and other motor fuels are gradually increased, a Motor Fuel User Fee Rebate program is established that allows a refundable income tax credit that covers the amount of the increased motor fuel user fee or the amount spent on preventative maintenance, whichever is less. Phased in over several years, the rebate program is capped at $114 million in the sixth year and is scheduled to expire in 2023, unless it is reauthorized. A non-refundable tax credit is provided for lower income workers. Phased in over the course of six years, the credit is expected to provide $43 million a year in tax relief when fully implemented. The state’s dual wage earner cap is gradually increased over the course of six years from $30,000 to $50,000. When fully implemented, the increase is expected to provide $19 million in tax relief each year. The refundable tuition tax credit is increased from 25% to 50%, capped at $1,500, for both four-year and two-year higher education institutions. The increase is ultimately expected to provide $7 million in tax relief each year. The legislation provides for a manufacturing property tax adjustment from 10.5% to 9% over a six-year period. Ultimately expected to provide $35.8 million in tax relief each year, the state is responsible for reimbursing up to $85 million in lost local revenue.

Legislators approved (H.3352) enhancements to the Freedom of Information Act provisions which guarantee citizens’ access to government proceedings and public documents. The legislation adjusts time frames for responding to FOIA requests to require more prompt compliance from public bodies and revises fees that government bodies may charge for copying documents and other compliance costs to better ensure that they do not become prohibitively expensive. Enforcement provisions are revised in an effort to make them more effective. The rarely-utilized misdemeanor criminal penalty for FOIA violations is eliminated and unfulfilled FOIA requests may instead be pursued through civil actions. The legislation makes provisions for expedited hearings in the circuit court for FOIA lawsuits brought to compel a government body to provide access to public documents.

The General Assembly approved legislation (H.3221) that establishes a statewide program for addressing unsound school district finances which affords the State Department of Education authority that extends beyond academic matters to include fiscal affairs. Provisions are made for three escalating levels of budgetary concern so that the State Superintendent of Education can declare a ‘fiscal watch’, a ‘fiscal caution’, and a ‘fiscal emergency’ with regard to school district finances. The succeeding levels of budgetary concern carry increasingly stringent requirements for school district recovery plans, audits, and inspections as well as more intensive technical support from the state department. Should a school district’s finances warrant the most severe level of concern, prompting the State Superintendent of Education to declare a ‘fiscal emergency’, the State Department of Education is authorized to take intensive steps including assuming control over the district’s financial operations to preclude a default on any type of debt and prevent further decline in the district’s finances.

Lawmakers approved legislation (H.3220) reestablishing the South Carolina Education and Economic Development Coordinating Council to review the progress, results, and compliance with the Education and Economic Development Act and to make recommendations for better achieving the act’s goals of implementing career pathways in the state’s public schools and fostering a better prepared workforce and student success in postsecondary education.

School performance ratings were revised in legislation (H.3969) establishing a single public education accountability system that meets both state and federal requirements. Under the uniform provisions, a school’s report card measures the combined academic performance of its student body using the ratings Excellent, Good, Average, Below Average, and Unsatisfactory. [Read more…]

Final Report Card: 2014 General Assembly

Feel free to grade the work of the 170 members of the SC General Assembly. There’s report cards from numerous groups that are always “grading us” but we all know it’s the grade of our constituents that matter most. Most people never really follow politics (can’t blame them really) and some may forget some of the “lesser bills”; either way, here’s the summary prepared by House Research and I wanted to share with you. It’s long.

As important to hearing from you about “how we did”, it’s equally important to hear “what you’d like to see us accomplish” next session!

That session begins with reorganization (for the House, that’s usually done in December….committee assignments, seat selections in chamber, etc) and we can prefile legislation beginning in December.

So…if you have time…here’s a “Year in Review”. Feel free to provide feedback or a grade if you’d like.

2014 Legislative Overview from the House Research Office summarizing major issues as of June 27, 2014.
2014 LEGISLATIVE OVERVIEW
June 27, 2014

In its second regular session, the 120th South Carolina General Assembly authorized the most significant government restructuring that the state has seen in twenty years by approving the “South Carolina Restructuring Act of 2014” (S.22) which makes comprehensive changes to the organization and oversight of state government that are geared towards enhancing accountability and efficiency. This restructuring initiative 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 as a cabinet agency. While the Governor assumes greater responsibility over most of the day-to-day running of state government operations, certain major financial responsibilities continue to be shared among key public officials in the executive and legislative branches of government. Composed of 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 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. The legislation also 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 reorganized, scaled back, or eliminated altogether.

The General Assembly approved new legislation (S.137) to combat drunk driving designated as “Emma’s Law” in memory of Emma Longstreet, the six-year-old Lexington County girl who was killed in a collision with a repeat DUI offender as her family was traveling to church on New Year’s Day 2012. The new law provides for a more expansive use of ignition interlock devices installed on the vehicles of driving under the influence offenders that are designed to prevent a vehicle from being started and operated by someone who has consumed alcohol. The legislation revises current requirements for ignition interlock devices to be installed on the vehicles of repeat DUI offenders and establishes a new requirement for installing an ignition interlock device on the vehicle of someone convicted of a first offense DUI violation with a breath test registering an alcohol concentration of 0.15 or higher. Those who refuse a breath test and are subsequently convicted of a first offense DUI violation are also subject to requirements for enrolling in the Ignition Interlock Device Program in order to be eligible to drive. New ignition interlock requirements are imposed upon those convicted of a DUI offense involving death or great bodily injury and those found guilty of drunk driving that has endangered at least one passenger under the age of sixteen. Emma’s Law also enhances penalties for those who fail to comply with ignition interlock device requirements.

Legislators approved a prohibition on texting while driving (S.459) which makes it unlawful for a person to use a handheld wireless electronic communication device to compose, send, or read a text based communication while operating a motor vehicle on the public streets and highways of this state. Exceptions are included to cover such circumstances as summoning emergency assistance and using a navigation system. A violation, which is not a criminal offense, is subject to a fine of up to twenty-five dollars. During the first one hundred eighty days after the law goes into effect, law enforcement officers must only issue warnings for violations. Law enforcement officers are prohibited from seizing wireless devices or performing searches in enforcing a violation of this prohibition on texting while driving, and a violation must not be included in the offender’s motor vehicle records or criminal records and must not be reported to an insurer. The legislation preempts all local government ordinances, regulations, and resolutions relating to the use of wireless electronic communication devices while driving on the public roads of this state.

The “South Carolina Read to Succeed Act” (S.516) was approved to establish a comprehensive K-12 initiative for promoting reading proficiency in the state’s public schools with an emphasis on early intervention to assist students who are not demonstrating an ability to read at grade level. Early grade students who are not demonstrating proficiency in reading must be provided intensive in-class and supplemental reading intervention, and, beginning with the 2017-2018 school year, students are subject to new requirements for being retained in the third grade if they fail substantially to demonstrate grade-level reading proficiency. Prior to retention, students who score the lowest in reading assessments are afforded the opportunity to enroll in a summer reading camp. Each elementary school must employ a reading coach to serve as the school’s resource for professional development in order to generate improvement in reading and literacy instruction and student achievement. Teacher certification and professional development requirements are revised to incorporate a new emphasis on literacy instruction.

Lawmakers approved legislation (H.3893) on the adoption of statewide education standards and assessments for use in the state’s K-12 public schools which addresses issues relating to national Common Core academic standards that have become aligned with federal programs and waivers offered through the U.S. Department of Education. Under the legislation, all proposed new standards and revisions to existing academic standards that are developed by anyone other than South Carolina’s Department of Education must be sent to the General Assembly for review so that lawmakers may approve or reject them. The General Assembly and the Governor must be notified whenever the State Department of Education or the Education Oversight Committee seek to change an existing standard. The legislation accelerates the review of state content standards and requires new college and career readiness state content standards to be implemented for the 2015 2016 school year. A timeline is established for the prompt procurement of new assessments, with a September 2014 deadline, under a protocol that requires the advice and consent of a temporary special assessment panel. The legislation provides that South Carolina is no longer part of the Smarter Balanced Assessment Consortium. A “South Carolina Department of Education Data Use and Governance Policy” is also established that includes prohibitions on collecting individualized student data directly from students or families and transferring individualized data to the U.S. Department of Education.

Legislation (H.3428) was approved to provide for the reauthorization of the South Carolina First Steps To School Readiness Initiative and to make revisions to this program for providing enhanced early childhood development, education, and family support services to enable children to reach school ready to achieve academic success. New accountability provisions are established to assess student progress, evaluate the performance of programs, and require state funds to be spent only on programs that are considered proven or promising according to research and evidence. Local First Steps partnerships are afforded flexibility to enter into multicounty arrangements and collaborate in order to maximize the efficiency and effectiveness of the services and programs they provide to children and their families.

A temporary School Safety Task Force was created (H.3365) that is charged with developing standards for district level policies to promote effective school discipline and mental health intervention services and examining how improved collaboration and organization could make the most of mental health resources and funding for school-based mental health services. The legislation provides for the membership of the task force and requires its recommendations to be reported to the General Assembly by the end of the year, at which time the task force must be dissolved.

The “Back to Basics in Education Act of 2014” (H.3905) was approved to add cursive writing and memorization of multiplication tables to the required subjects of instruction in public schools and to require students to demonstrate competence in each subject before completion of the fifth grade.

The General Assembly approved legislation (H.3853) to provide enhanced accountability for charter schools, particularly at the charter application and school closing stages. Charter schools are required to adhere to national industry standards for quality. The legislation also includes authorization for creating alternative education campuses designed to serve at-risk and challenging student populations.

[Read more…]

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.

Weekly Rewind: Week of June 5th


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

HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW
June 8, 2012

The House of Representatives and the Senate adopted H.5377, a concurrent resolution AUTHORIZING THE EXTENSION OF THIS YEAR’S LEGISLATIVE SESSION. The legislation provides authority for the General Assembly to meet beyond its prescribed deadline for adjournment on June 7, 2012, to take up a limited list of matters including the state government budget, conference committee reports, and the Governor’s vetoes.

The House amended Senate amendments to H.4813, the General Appropriations Bill, and H.4814, the joint resolution appropriating Capital Reserve funds, which together comprise the proposed STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET for fiscal year 2012-2013, and returned this legislation to the Senate. The House adopted amendments that largely reverted the legislation to the budget proposals adopted by the body earlier this year, but the House did provide for the appropriation of roughly $300 million in additional funds that the Board of Economic Advisors recently certified as available for appropriation since the budget left the House in March: $65 million is devoted to small business income tax relief, reducing from five percent to three percent the tax rate for income derived from pass through trade and business arrangements, such as sole proprietorships, partnerships, and “S” corporations; an additional $120 million is made available for deepening the Charleston Harbor so that South Carolina can remain competitive in maritime shipping with a port capable of accommodating the larger vessels that will pass through the newly-expanded Panama Canal (should these additional funds not be required for the deepening of the port, funds would be redirected to support programs for special needs students, Other Post-Employment Benefits (OPEB) debt repayment, bridge replacement and repair, and a Medicaid Program Reserve Fund); $10 million is added to the Local Government Fund to increase this total appropriation to the state’s counties and municipalities to nearly $200 million; the 2% state employee pay raise previously approved by the House is maintained, but funding is increased to cover the needs of the Employee Health Insurance Plan and avoid rate increases or benefit reductions; $48 million is added to the Education Improvement Act Salary Supplement to guarantee a 2% state-funded pay raise for all teachers; $43 million is added to the Deal Closing Fund that the Department of Commerce uses to recruit new business investment in the state; the Medicaid budget request is fully funded to include express lane eligibility for children; an $800,000 is included for local health departments and an additional $500,000 is provided for the Rural Physician Program; the additional 3% pay raise provided for Class 1 Law Enforcement Officers (a total of 5% when the state employee pay raise is included) is revised so that it applies only to those officers earning less than $50,000 a year; funding is provided for additional circuit court and family court judges. Capital Reserve Fund appropriations are revised to allow negotiations about the proposal for purchasing certain tracts of land at the State Farmer’s Market site. The House and Senate have appointed a conference committee to address the differences of the bodies on the budget legislation.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4654 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation addresses the APPLICATION OF THE POLLUTION CONTROL ACT which regulates the discharge of sewage, industrial waste, and other pollutants through permitting programs at the Department of Health and Environmental Control. The legislation responds to a recent South Carolina Supreme Court ruling as it relates to who has standing to file a lawsuit under South Carolina’s Pollution Control Act and whether the act addresses waters, such as Carolina Bays and other isolated wetlands, for which DHEC has no permitting program. The legislation specifies that no private cause of action is created by or exists under the Pollution Control Act. The legislation provides that Pollution Control Act permit requirements do not apply to: (1) discharges in a quantity below applicable threshold permitting requirements established by the department; (2) discharges for which the department has no regulatory permitting program; (3) discharges exempted by the department from permitting requirements; or (4) normal farming, silviculture, aquaculture, ranching, and wildlife habitat management activities that are not prohibited by or otherwise subject to regulation. The legislation specifies that these limitations on permitting requirements must not be construed to impair or affect common law rights, repeal prohibitions or requirements of other statutory law or common law, or diminish the department’s authority to abate public nuisances or hazards to public health or the environment, to abate pollution as defined in the Pollution Control Act, or to respond to accidental discharges or spills. A procedure is established for filing written petitions with DHEC for a declaratory ruling on the applicability of a specific, existing regulatory program to a proposed or existing discharge into the environment. The legislation authorizes DHEC to issue emergency orders to protect the public health or property from unpermitted discharges and provides that relief from departmental decisions is to be sought through hearings in the Administrative Law Court. The legislation also creates the “Isolated Wetlands and Carolina Bays Task Force” to review, study, and make recommendations concerning issues related to isolated wetlands and Carolina Bays in South Carolina. The legislation provides for the composition of the task force and requires it to issue a report before terminating.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4652, a bill providing for RIGHT TO WORK LAW ENHANCEMENTS, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation authorizes “Your Rights as a Worker in South Carolina” notifications that may be posted in workplaces in order to inform employees of the state’s laws guaranteeing that a person’s right to work must not be denied or abridged because of membership or nonmembership in a labor union or labor organization. The legislation revises criminal penalties for a violation of right to work laws by increasing the minimum fine from ten dollars to one thousand dollars and the maximum fine from one thousand dollars to ten thousand dollars. The legislation authorizes the award of treble damages as a remedy available to a worker for a violation of his right to work. An individual seeking relief from a court for a violation of his right to work must file with the director of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation a copy of the court pleadings or an affidavit stating the legal and factual basis for his claim. The legislation increases from one hundred dollars to ten thousand dollars the maximum civil penalty that the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation may assess an employer, labor organization, or other person for a right to work violation. The legislation requires a labor organization with members that work in South Carolina to file with the state’s Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation copies of the documents required to be filed with the U.S. Secretary of Labor under federal law.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to S.836 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation enacts an INTERSTATE HEALTHCARE COMPACT and enters South Carolina into the compact along with any other states legally joining the compact by the adoption of similar legislation. Member states shall take joint and separate action to secure congressional consent to this compact in order to return the authority to regulate health care to the member states. The legislation provides that the legislature of each member state has the primary responsibility to regulate health care in their state. Each member state, within its jurisdiction, may enact legislation to suspend the operation of all federal laws, rules, regulations, and orders regarding health care that are inconsistent with those adopted by the member state pursuant to this compact. Each federal fiscal year, each member state shall have the right to federal monies up to an amount equal to its member state current year funding level for that federal fiscal year, funded by Congress as mandatory spending and not subject to annual appropriation, to support the exercise of member state authority under this compact. This funding shall not be conditional on any action of or regulation, policy, law, or rule being adopted by the member state. The legislation establishes an Interstate Advisory Health Care Commission and provides for its membership and responsibilities. South Carolina’s participation in the compact does not include the administration of Medicare or the Children’s Health Insurance Program unless the General Assembly authorizes the inclusion of these programs.

The House and the Senate adopted the conference report on H.3757, a bill that expands and enhances penalties for HUMAN TRAFFICKING and implements other measures to combat the practice of trafficking in persons where victims are subjected to involuntary servitude, sex trafficking, or debt bondage by means of physical restraint, extortion, control of immigration documents, drug dependency, or other forms of coercion. The bill was enrolled for ratification. The legislation provides expanded and enhanced felony offenses that apply to someone who knowingly attempts or actually recruits, entices, solicits, isolates, harbors, transports, provides, or obtains a victim for human trafficking purposes. These criminal offenses also apply to those who benefit financially from human trafficking ventures. Repeat offenses carry longer terms of imprisonment with a third or subsequent felony offense subjecting the offender to imprisonment for up to forty five years. Additional penalties are provided if a victim is under the age of eighteen. A person who aids, abets, or conspires with another person to commit human trafficking violations is considered a trafficker under the legislation and must be punished accordingly. The legislation provides for criminal liability and loss of business licenses for business owners that use their businesses to participate in or aid in human trafficking. Property and assets used in human trafficking ventures are subject to seizure and forfeiture. The legislation provides for prosecution by the State Grand Jury when a trafficking in persons offense involves more than one county. The legislation provides mandatory restitution for victims of human trafficking and includes these crime victims under the provisions of the Victims’ Bill of Rights so that they are entitled to compensation through the State Crime Victim’s Compensation Fund. Confidentiality provisions are included for such victims. Victims of human trafficking are afforded an affirmative defense in certain criminal prosecutions and are authorized to bring civil actions. The legislation establishes provisions to safeguard a trafficking shelter, or domestic violence shelter by prohibiting the presence of human traffickers at shelters and creating a criminal offense for publishing or otherwise disclosing the location of a shelter or the whereabouts of a trafficking victim. The legislation establishes an interagency task force to develop and implement a State Plan for the Prevention of Trafficking in Persons and provides for the creation of public awareness programs on human trafficking issues.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to S.1031, a bill imposing new requirements relating to DEMOLISHING VEHICLES to reduce the likelihood that stolen property is being turned over to junk dealers, vehicle demolishers, and secondary metal recyclers. The legislation imposes new requirements for turning over a valid title certificate with a vehicle to a demolisher in order for the vehicle to be demolished. The legislation establishes alternate means of satisfying proof of ownership to allow a vehicle to be demolished without producing a title to apply in situations where vehicles have been obtained through sheriffs’ sales, public auctions of abandoned vehicles, and similar lawful transactions. The legislation establishes a procedure allowing someone to turn over older derelict vehicles for demolishing without a title or other proof of ownership. Such vehicles, including wrecks abandoned on one’s property, must be at least twelve model years old and must lack an engine or be otherwise totally inoperable. Before completing a transaction on such older vehicles, the demolisher or secondary metals recycler must verify with the Department of Motor Vehicles whether the vehicle has been reported stolen. If a vehicle has been reported stolen, the transaction must not be completed and the demolisher or secondary metals recycler must notify the appropriate law enforcement agency. The legislation enhances record keeping requirements for businesses and criminal penalty provisions for violations. First offenses remain misdemeanors, and second and subsequent offenses are felonies subject to a fine of up to one thousand dollars and/or imprisonment for up to three years. Falsifying a required application, form or affidavit is a felony offense. In lieu of criminal penalties, the director of the Department of Motor Vehicles may issue an administrative fine of up to one thousand dollars for each unintentional violation. Also, a vehicle used to transport a vehicle or vehicle parts unlawfully may be subject to seizure by law enforcement and forfeiture.

S.1031 also includes revisions to the legislation that the General Assembly approved last year to address the problem of COPPER THEFT by enhancing penalties for unlawfully obtaining copper and other nonferrous metals and imposing new restrictions on the sales of such metals that require recyclers and others who sell, purchase and transport nonferrous metals to obtain permits from the sheriff. Notably, the legislation revises the criminal offense established for unlawfully obtaining metals so that it includes lead-acid batteries and steel propane gas tanks, but excludes aluminum cans. The legislation makes revisions regarding required permits. A statewide permit is authorized for transporting nonferrous metals that is valid for a period of two years, rather than one year. The legislation provides for the revocation of permits for violations. To strengthen the existing prohibition on cash transactions for the sale of copper, catalytic converters and beer kegs that requires recyclers to pay for such purchases by check alone, the legislation prohibits a recycler from cashing checks or making use of an automated teller machine (ATM) or other cash card system instead of a check. The legislation prohibits a recycler from purchasing or otherwise acquiring an iron or steel manhole cover or drainage grate. The restrictions placed on metal purchases are revised to establish several exemptions for governments, businesses and charities that have lawful reasons for dealing with scrap metal.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4473 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation establishes new restrictions PROHIBITING CHILD MOLESTERS AND ABUSERS FROM ADOPTING CHILDREN OR SERVING AS FOSTER PARENTS for children in the custody of the Department of Social Services. Current law already restricts foster care placements with individuals who have a substantiated history of child abuse or neglect or certain criminal backgrounds. This legislation adds to those restrictions and extends them to apply adoption placements. This legislation prohibits a child in the custody of the DSS from being placed in foster care with, or adopted by, a person if that person or anyone eighteen years of age or older residing in the home has pled guilty or no contest or been convicted of certain criminal offenses. Additional criminal offenses added by this legislation to the already existing list that would prohibit placement of a child include: unlawful conduct toward a child; cruelty to children; child endangerment; and criminal sexual conduct with a minor in the first degree. The legislation further provides that a person applying for approval for adoption placement must undergo a state fingerprint review. Also, DSS is authorized to pay from funds appropriated for foster care the costs of federal fingerprint reviews for foster care families.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3667 and enrolled the legislation for ratification. This legislation ESTABLISHES THE FELONY OFFENSE OF CRIMINAL SEXUAL CONDUCT IN THE THIRD DEGREE when the actor is over the age of fourteen and commits certain acts with a child under the age of sixteen; the legislation includes an exception for certain consensual conduct when the actor is eighteen years of age or less and the other person is at least fourteen years of age. The legislation also repeals a current code provision relating to committing or attempting to commit a lewd act upon a child under the age of sixteen. Other code sections are updated to reflect these changes.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4699, a bill providing for ADDITIONAL CIRCUIT COURT AND FAMILY COURT JUDGES, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. The legislation provides for three additional circuit court judges elected at-large by the General Assembly and six additional at-large family court judges elected at-large by the General Assembly.

The House and Senate adopted the free conference report on H.3506, a bill revising ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT PROVISIONS, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation expands the availability of the tire manufacturer credits to include companies that invest at least $400 million in capital investment and employ at least 1200 full time employees by 2022. The legislation authorizes the Department of Revenue to waive penalties for a late electronic tax filing due to a reasonable cause, such as a data breakdown.

The House approved S.1007 and enrolled the bill for ratification. This legislation provides new requirements for the DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION TO MAINTAIN AN ONLINE TRANSACTION REGISTER that includes a complete record of all funds expended, from whatever source for whatever purpose. The register must be prominently posted on the department’s website and made available for public viewing and downloading. The register must be searchable and updated at least once a month, with each monthly register maintained on the website for at least three years. The legislation also includes requirements for the department website to provide links to other agencies’ postings of state procurement card statements.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4945, a bill authorizing ONLINE ELECTRONIC VOTER REGISTRATION, and enrolled the bill for ratification. This legislation authorizes a person who is qualified to register to vote and who has a valid South Carolina driver’s license or state identification card issued by the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) to submit an application for voter registration electronically on the website of the State Election Commission. An application is effective upon receipt by the commission if it is received 30 days before an election to be held in the precinct of the person submitting the application. The applicant shall attest to the truth of the information provided and assent to the use of his signature from his driver’s license or state identification card issued by the DMV. A person who submits an application electronically must include his: driver’s license or state identification card number; date of birth; last four digits of his social security number; name and address; and any other information the commission considers necessary to establish the identity of the applicant. Upon submission of an application, the electronic voter registration system must provide immediate verification of the data with information on file with the DMV. Should there be a failure to match any of the required information with the DMV, the commission shall immediately notify the applicant of the failure and inform the applicant that his application for registration was not accepted. The legislation further provides that the commission shall establish and maintain a voter registration database that shall be made continuously available to each board of elections and to other agencies. State agencies shall provide any information and data to the commission that it considers necessary in order to maintain the database, except where prohibited by federal law or regulation. The commission shall ensure the confidentiality of database information. The name or address of a registered elector shall only be updated upon the elector’s filing of a notice of change of name and/or address. A county board of registration shall contact a registered elector by mail at the address on file to verify the accuracy of the database information when there is a discrepancy with information on the elector maintained by a state agency. The commission may enter into agreements to share the information or data with other states or groups of states.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4497, the “CERVICAL CANCER PREVENTION ACT”, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides that, beginning with the 2012 2013 school year, the Department of Health and Environmental Control may offer the cervical cancer vaccination for adolescent students enrolling in the seventh grade in any school, public or private, in this State. No student is required to have the this cervical cancer vaccination, the human papillomavirus vaccination series, before enrolling or attending school. DHEC is authorized to develop and provide schools with informational brochures concerning adolescent vaccinations, including the cervical cancer vaccination series, which must specifically mention the optional nature of the cancer vaccination series and encourage the student’s parent or guardian to take the child to their own health care provider to be vaccinated. At the beginning of the school year each district may provide these informational brochures to the parents or guardians of all students in the sixth grade. Implementation of this legislation is contingent upon the appropriation of state and federal funding to DHEC to fully cover the costs of providing this vaccine to eligible students as well as the availability of funds to produce the informational materials.

The House and Senate adopted the free conference report on H.3527 and enrolled the bill for ratification. This legislation provides that it is UNLAWFUL FOR AN INMATE TO UTILIZE ANY INTERNET-BASED SOCIAL NETWORKING WEBSITE FOR PURPOSES OF HARASSING, INTIMIDATING OR OTHERWISE CONTACTING A CRIME VICTIM. This prohibition also applies to someone acting on the inmate’s behalf or enabling the inmate to engage in these unlawful activities. A violation is a misdemeanor subject to a fine of up to five hundred dollars and/or imprisonment for up to thirty days. These provisions apply only to inmates incarcerated in a State Department of Corrections facility.

The returned S.741 to the Senate with amendment and the Senate subsequently concurred in these amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation establishes more EXPANSIVE PROVISIONS FOR HUNTING COYOTES, FERAL HOGS AND ARMADILLOS to reduce the rising populations of these nuisance animals. The legislation includes provisions for the nighttime hunting of these animals with or without the aid of bait, electronic calls, artificial light, or night vision devices, and year-round hunting with a bow and arrow and certain other weapons.

The House and Senate adopted the conference report on H.3730 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation establishes more EXPANSIVE PROVISIONS FOR HUNTING COYOTES and other nuisance animals. The legislation provides that there is no closed season for hunting or taking coyotes with weapons and allows these animals to be hunted with recorded calls or sounds or their electronically amplified imitations. The legislation includes more expansive provisions for the Department of Natural Resources to issue special permits, at no cost to the applicant, for the taking, capturing, or transportation of destructive wildlife. The legislation includes provisions allowing live traps to be used to capture feral animals at any time without a license or permit. New provisions are included for using and checking on traps. In addition to a valid state hunting license, the legislation requires an annual COMMERCIAL FUR LICENSE of all persons who sell or take by any means, for commercial purposes, and all persons who trap or who attempt to trap any furbearing animals. The license is issued by the DNR at a cost of twenty five dollars for residents and two hundred dollars for nonresidents. Any person having in his possession more than five furbearing animals or raw or green pelts shall have a valid commercial fur license, but these provisions do not apply to a processor, manufacturer, or retailer. A person under the age of sixteen may purchase a commercial fur license without having to purchase a state hunting license after completing the ‘Trappers Education Course’, and is exempt from these licensing requirements while in the presence of a commercial fur licensee, but may not sell any furbearing animals or raw or green pelts unless licensed. The legislation also establishes a procedure that affords a nonresident an opportunity to purchase a lifetime combination license which grants the same privileges as a statewide combination license from D NR’s Columbia office.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to S.105, which creates an AGRITOURISM AND TOURISM ORIENTED SIGNAGE PROGRAM, and enrolled the bill for ratification. This legislation directs the Department of Transportation (DOT) to create and supervise a coordinated, self-funded, statewide program providing directional signs along the state’s major rural highways and non-interstate scenic byways leading to tourism and agritourism-oriented facilities. Participating facilities are responsible for the cost of the signs and their installation and maintenance. The statewide program shall be operated according to standards and regulations consistent with the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices authorized to be adopted and promulgated by DOT. DOT shall coordinate with the Department of Agriculture and the Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism (PRT) to allow those departments to promote tourism and agritourism facilities participating in this directional signage program. The criteria for selection of qualified agritourism facilities shall be recommended by the Department of Agriculture and the criteria for the selection of qualified tourism facilities shall be recommended by PRT to be incorporated into DOT regulations. The approval of applications for signs for agritourism and tourism oriented facilities must be determined by an oversight committee composed of representatives from these government agencies and representatives from the state’s tourism and outdoor advertising industries. The Department of Agriculture and PRT must develop logos to be utilized for the signage. These logos may be used by the departments for other promotional purposes associated with tourism and agritourism. S.105 also provides that it is UNLAWFUL FOR ANY PERSON TO CAMP, SET FIRES, OR COOK WITHIN THE RIGHT-OF-WAY OF A HIGHWAY open to vehicular traffic for more than forty-eight hours. A violation is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $100, or imprisonment of not more than 30 days, or such other lesser disposition, penalty, or non penalty as the court determines.

The House approved S.168, relating to the THEFT OF TIMBER, pine straw, and other forest products, and enrolled the bill for ratification. This legislation enhances penalties for cutting, destroying, removing, or transporting trees and other forest products without the consent of the landowner, establishing a tiered system in which the severity of the criminal penalties, along with fines and terms of imprisonment, increases with the value of the forest products stolen.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4082, a bill addressing FUNDING FOR FORESTRY COMMISSION FIREFIGHTING ACTIVITIES AND EQUIPMENT, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides that, from July 1, 2013, through June 30, 2017, two and one quarter percent of insurance premium tax revenue must be transferred to the South Carolina Forestry Commission and used by that agency for firefighting and firefighting equipment replacement.

The House returned S.263 to the Senate with amendments. The Senate subsequently concurred in these amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification. This legislation provides that when the death of a person ensues within three years as a proximate result of injury by the driving of a vehicle in reckless disregard of the safety of others, the person operating the vehicle is guilty of RECKLESS VEHICULAR HOMICIDE; previously this was referred to as reckless homicide. Also, this legislation allows a judge to grant a route restricted license; previously a judge could grant a provisional license. The legislation further provides that when a person is suspected of causing a motor vehicle incident resulting in the death of another person by the investigating law enforcement officer on the scene of the incident, the driver must submit to field sobriety tests if he is physically able to do so.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4614, legislation establishing procedures and requirements relating to COURT-ORDERED JOINT CUSTODY OF CHILDREN, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides that, at all temporary hearings where child custody is contested, each parent must prepare, file, and submit to the court a parenting plan, which reflects parental preferences, the allocation of parenting time to be spent with each parent, and major decisions, such as the child’s education, medical and dental care, extracurricular activities and religious training. However, the parties may elect to prepare, file, and submit a joint parenting plan. The court shall issue temporary and final custody orders only after considering these parenting plans, but failure to submit a parenting plan does not preclude the court from issuing a temporary or final custody order.
The court shall make the final custody determination in the best interest of the child based upon the evidence presented and may award joint custody to both parents or sole custody to either parent. If custody is contested or if either parent seeks an award of joint custody, the court shall consider all custody options in its final order, stating its determination as to custody and its reasoning for that decision. The legislation provides matters that may be included in a custody order and establishes factors the court may consider in issuing or modifying a custody order when considering the best interest of the child. When a court orders sole custody to one parent, the custodial parent, except in cases of abuse, neglect, or abandonment, should facilitate opportunities for reasonable telephonic and electronic communication between the minor child and the noncustodial parent, as appropriate, as provided for by court order if the court determines that this type of communication is in the best interest of the child. When a court orders joint custody to both parents, each parent should facilitate opportunities for reasonable telephonic and electronic communication between the minor child and the other parent, as appropriate, as provided for by court order if the court determines that this type of communication is in the best interest of the child. The legislation provides that, notwithstanding custody arrangement, each parent has equal access and the same right to obtain all educational records and medical records of minor children and the right to participate in the children’s school activities and extracurricular activities that are held in public locations unless prohibited by an order of the court or state law. The legislation also creates the South Carolina Family Court Study Committee to study the feasibility of tracking the outcome of contested temporary and final custody proceedings in the family court and issue a report by January 31, 2013.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4042, relating to MOTOR VEHICLE GLASS REPAIR, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides that when an insured has suffered damage to the glass of a motor vehicle (‘vehicle glass’), both the insurer providing glass coverage and the third party administrator that administers glass coverage for that insurer must not require that repairs be made to the insured’s vehicle by a particular provider of glass repair work. The legislation designates certain misrepresentations and activities of motor vehicle glass repair businesses as unlawful trade practices.

The House and Senate adopted the conference report on H.4763, a bill revising PRENEED FUNERAL CONTRACT provisions, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. This bill establishes a biennial term for preneed funeral contract licensure and provides for a $250 initial licensure fee and a $200 fee for each license renewal application. The Department of Consumer Affairs is directed to use half of the renewal fee for administration and deposit the other $100 dollars of each license renewal fee into the Preneed Loss Reimbursement Fund, which is used to make reimbursements in cases of fraud where payments have been made in advance for contractual funeral services that were never provided. The legislation eliminates the provision that sets the maximum amount of the Preneed Loss Reimbursement Fund at five hundred thousand dollars with a five percent adjustment compounded annually. Restrictions are placed on the transfer of preneed funeral contracts. The legislation enhances criminal penalties for those who enter into preneed funeral contracts but fail to provide promised funeral services when the beneficiary dies. New felony offenses are established for violations involving larger dollar amounts. Those convicted of a misdemeanor or felony offense may be prohibited from entering into further preneed funeral contracts when the department finds the offense sufficiently grievous. The department is also authorized to make use of a warning notice of deficiency, additional education requirements, or a cease and desist order in responding to violations.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3028 and enrolled the bill for ratification. This legislation INCREASES THE INDUCTION CONTRACT PERIOD FOR TEACHERS FROM ONE YEAR TO A MAXIMUM OF THREE YEARS. Instead of the current one-year induction period, the legislation provides that at the end of each year of the three year induction period, the school district may employ the teacher under another induction contract, an annual contract, or may terminate his employment. If employment is terminated, the teacher may seek employment in another school district

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4786, a bill relating to SUBSTITUTE TEACHERS EMPLOYED BY TEMPORARY STAFFING AGENCIES, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation revises provisions governing the payment of unemployment benefits so that substitute teachers employed by private temporary employment agencies that have contractual relationships with school districts are not allowed to collect benefits during vacation period or holiday recess.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3986, relating to the RETENTION OF SCHOOL FACILITIES FUNDS, and enrolled the legislation for ratification. This joint resolution provides that, until December 31, 2012, a school district may apply for and receive its allotted share of EIA school building funds under Section 59-21-430 of the 1976 Code for fiscal year 2011-2012 under the terms and conditions applicable to all school districts. If the school district’s allotted portion of these EIA school building funds have lapsed to the Education Improvement Act of 1984 Fund or to some other fund or account, the funds may nevertheless be withdrawn from that fund or account under warrant of the Department of Education and distributed to that school district on or before December 31, 2012, and used by the district for the purposes required by law.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3747 and enrolled the bill for ratification. This bill provides a SALES TAX EXEMPTION FOR INJECTABLE MEDICATIONS AND INJECTABLE BIOLOGICS, so long as the medication or biologic is administered by a physician in an office which is under the supervision of a physician, or in a Center for Medicare or Medicaid Services (CMS) certified kidney dialysis facility. The legislation specifies that biologics are products that are applicable to the prevention, treatment, or cure of a disease or condition of human beings and that are produced using living organisms, materials derived from living organisms, or cellular, subcellular, or molecular components of living organisms.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4687, regarding the ELECTRONIC TRANSMITTAL OF DEATH CERTIFICATES, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation requires death certificates to be electronically filed with the Bureau of Vital Statistics. Death certificates must be transmitted electronically between the funeral home director and the physician, coroner, or medical examiner certifying the cause of death in order to document the death certificate information and required signatures must be electronic. An exemption from the requirement is provided for: an individual who acts, without compensation, as a funeral director on behalf of a deceased family member or friend; physicians certifying fewer than twelve deaths per year; or funeral homes that perform fewer than twelve funerals per year.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4766, the “SOUTH CAROLINA BENEFIT CORPORATION ACT”, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation establishes a mechanism for organizing as, or converting to, a benefit corporation, a domestic corporation arrangement that involves not only accountability to the interests of corporate shareholders but also adherence to third-party standards for benefiting the public welfare through environmental, religious, charitable, scientific, literary, or educational missions and similar pursuits. With regard to accountability, benefit corporations are required to consider the impact of their decisions not only on shareholders but also on workers, community, and the environment. Additionally, benefit corporations must publicly report annually on overall social or environmental performance against a third party standard. A benefit corporation may include in its governing documents other corporate purposes, including engaging in any lawful business. This status has no tax implication for the corporation. A benefit corporation may terminate its status by amending its governing documents.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3676, the SOUTH CAROLINA COMMUNITY LAND TRUST ACT, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation authorizes the formation and operation of a community land trust, which is a nonprofit community organization that safeguards land in order to provide affordable housing opportunities. The legislation provides that a community land trust must have as its primary purpose to hold legal and equitable title to land and the leasing of land for the purpose of preserving the long-term affordability of housing created for predominately low income and moderate income households. The legislation makes certain findings and provides the manner in which community land trusts are funded and provides the process by which community land trusts operate.

The House returned S.580 to the Senate with amendments and the Senate subsequently concurred in those amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation enacts the COMPUTER AND DIGITAL FORENSICS REGISTRY ACT to establish within the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED) a registry of those engaged in the search for or collection of evidence from computer systems, computer networks, cellular telephones, personal digital assistants, hereafter ‘PDAs’, and all other electronic storage media, in a standardized and well documented manner to maintain its admissibility and probative value in a legal proceeding. This bill provides that provisions governing the licensure and regulation of private security and investigation agencies do not apply to a person based solely on his being engaged in computer or digital forensic services, the acquisition, review, or analysis of digital or computer based information, or system vulnerability testing.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4738, a bill relating to the COURT’S CONSIDERATION OF THE RETIREMENT OF SUPPORTING SPOUSE WHEN DETERMINING ALIMONY, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides that retirement by the supporting spouse is sufficient grounds to warrant a hearing, if so moved by a party, to evaluate whether there has been a change of circumstances for alimony. The legislation establishes the factors the court shall consider, such as whether the retirement is mandatory or voluntary, whether retirement would result in a decrease in income, and the age and health of the supporting spouse.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3127, pertaining to EXPUNGEMENT OF CRIMINAL RECORDS FOR A PERSON RECEIVING A PARDON, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation establishes a mechanism that allows a person who is applying for an order of pardon for an offense may request that the South Carolina Board of Paroles and Pardons recommend the expungement of records related to the offense. The legislation includes the payment of a nonrefundable recommendation of expungement application fee of one hundred dollars, which must be retained by the South Carolina Department of Probation, Parole and Pardon Services and used to defray the costs associated with the expungement process.

The House returned S.1055 to the Senate with amendments and the Senate subsequently concurred in these amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification. This legislation makes revisions to the COMPOSITION OF THE JUDICIAL COUNCIL. Notably, the legislation includes on the council the Chief Judge of the Court of Appeals, one person recommended by the Charleston School of Law, the President of the South Carolina Bar or his designee, and one magistrate and one municipal judge.

The House returned S.300 to the Senate with amendments and the Senate subsequently concurred in these amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification. This legislation authorizes the DEPARTMENT OF JUVENILE JUSTICE to allow any child adjudicated delinquent for a status offense, a misdemeanor offense, or violation of probation or contempt for any offense who is temporarily committed to the department’s custody for a residential evaluation, to reside in that child’s home or in his home community while undergoing a community evaluation, unless the committing judge concludes that the child presents an unreasonable flight or public safety risk to his home community. This legislation further authorizes the department to grant probationers and parolees up to a ten-day term reduction for each month they are compliant with the terms and conditions of their probation or parole.

The House returned S.1099 to the Senate with amendments and the Senate subsequently concurred in these amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification. This legislation provides that MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF JUVENILE PAROLE AND THE DEPARTMENT OF PROBATION, PAROLE AND PARDON SERVICES shall receive compensation in an amount provided by the General Assembly in the annual appropriations act.

The House approved S.1329 and enrolled the bill for ratification. This legislation revises the APPOINTMENT OF MEMBERS OF THE BOARD OF PROBATION, PAROLE AND PARDON SERVICES. Currently, the board is composed of seven members with six elected from the current congressional districts and one elected on an at-large basis. As there is a new seventh congressional district, this legislation provides that all seven members of the board must be selected from a congressional district. The legislation further provides that at least one appointee shall possess the qualifications that the at-large appointee formerly met.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4513, relating to the ADULT PROTECTION COORDINATING COUNCIL under the auspices of the South Carolina Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), and enrolled the bill for ratification. This legislation revises the council’s membership and duties and provides that its duties are subject to the appropriation of funding and allocation of personnel to carry out the functions of the council, and staffing for the council must be provided by DHHS. An annual report is required on the council’s activities and accomplishments.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3918 and enrolled the bill for ratification. This comprehensive legislation updates and modernizes statutes pertaining to the DIVISION OF AERONAUTICS. Notably, the legislation codifies the proviso transferring the division from the Department of Commerce to the Budget and Control Board; updates definitions and rules relating to the division to conform them to Federal Aviation Administration provisions; and restructures the Aeronautics Commission to reflect the new seventh congressional district.

The House returned S.1220, which relates to the SURFACE WATER WITHDRAWAL PROGRAM, to the Senate with amendments and the Senate subsequently concurred with these amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation continues fees for surface water withdrawal applications and permits that would otherwise have been repealed January 1, 2013. The legislation also authorizes fees the Department of Health and Environmental Control may charge for surface water withdrawal and applications and permits for purposes of implementing and operating the regulatory program.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.5098 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation revises provisions that relate to TEMPORARY PERMITS FOR THE POSSESSION, SALE, AND CONSUMPTION OF ALCOHOLIC LIQUORS BY THE DRINK IN A COUNTY OR MUNICIPALITY UPON A FAVORABLE REFERENDUM VOTE, so as to further provide for how such a referendum may be conducted.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4888 and enrolled the bill for ratification. This legislation makes a variety of REVISIONS RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES (DMV). Among other things, the legislation requires DMV to convene a working group chaired by its director, or his designee, consisting of representative stakeholders for the purpose of assisting in the development of a process to be used for the titling of vehicles for which no title can be provided. The legislation also makes numerous technical changes pertaining to the DMV as it updates statutes to reflect that DMV is no longer under the Department of Public Safety; and it repeals certain provisions relating to Shriners License Plates as there are other provisions in law relating to these plates. The legislation allows a low speed vehicle to be operated on a highway for which the posted speed limit is thirty-five miles an hour or less. The legislation makes revisions pertaining to the repeal of a code provision which relates to the suspension of a driver’s license of a person convicted of a controlled substance violation. This particular code section was repealed by the General Assembly last year by Act 13 of 2011. This legislation enacts language in order to carry out the intentions of the General Assembly when it enacted this legislation to DISCONTINUE THE SUSPENSION OF THE DRIVER’S LICENSE OF A PERSON WHO WAS CHARGED WITH A CONTROLLED SUBSTANCE VIOLATION before April 12, 2011, but whose conviction occurred on or after April 12, 2011.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4798 and enrolled the bill for ratification. Relating to the trial of a person in a MUNICIPAL COURT, this legislation revises the period of time in which a person must be tried after the date of his arrest to make it consistent with the timeframe established in other provisions.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to S.1167 and enrolled the bill for ratifications. The legislation provides for a TAX INCREMENT FINANCING LAW REVISION by establishing conditions under which a municipality may modify a redevelopment plan through ordinance.

The House returned S.1354 to the Senate with amendments and the Senate subsequently concurred in these amendments and enrolled the bill for ratification. This legislation requires all CEASE AND DESIST ORDERS ISSUED BY THE SECURITIES COMMISSIONER to be public documents subject to the Freedom of Information Act and to be published on the Attorney General’s website searchable by the name of the parties involved. Also, a copy of a final order must be forwarded to the Department of Revenue and the Secretary of State’s Office.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to S.1231, which provides for the CLASSIFICATION OF COBIA AS A SALTWATER GAME FISH, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The bill classifies Cobia Rachycentron canadum as a saltwater game fish. The bill adds that it is unlawful to sell, purchase, trade, or barter or attempt to sell, purchase, trade, or barter cobia taken from state waters. In addition, the legislation revises provisions for commercial Shad fishing.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.4054 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides that it is UNLAWFUL TO HUNT MIGRATORY WATERFOWL ON LAKE MOULTRIE, LAKE KEOWEE, AND ANDERSON COUNTY’S BROADWAY LAKE WITHIN TWO HUNDRED YARDS OF A DWELLING without written permission of the owner and occupant.

The House approved S.512 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides that it is UNLAWFUL TO HUNT MIGRATORY WATERFOWL ON LAKE MOULTRIE WITHIN TWO HUNDRED YARDS OF A DWELLING without written permission of the owner and occupant.

The House adopted the conference report on H.4008, a bill that establishes protections from legal liability that apply to HOSPITAL QUALITY ASSURANCE REVIEWS, peer reviews, medical staff credentialing processes, and similar evaluations and provides for confidentiality of records in such proceedings.

The House adopted the conference report on H.3400, relating to TERMINATION OF A CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATION.

The House adopted the conference report on H.3124, the OMNIBUS SPECIAL LICENSE PLATE BILL, which provides for the issuance of various new special license plates

The House and Senate appointed a conference committee to address their differences on H.5025, a bill revising the GOVERNANCE OF SOUTH CAROLINA STATE UNIVERSITY.

The House and Senate appointed a conference committee to address their differences on S.45 which revises the handling of BOND AND BAIL issues in the judicial system.

The House and Senate appointed a conference committee to address their differences on
S.1321. This legislation makes REVISIONS TO THE “OMNIBUS CRIME REDUCTION AND SENTENCING REFORM ACT OF 2010”

The House and Senate appointed a conference committee to address their differences on S.1137, the “ARCHITECTS’ AND ENGINEERS’ VOLUNTEER ACT”. The legislation provides immunity from legal liability for licensed architects and licensed engineers who provide volunteer services during declared emergencies.

The House and Senate appointed a conference committee to address their differences on S.1088. This comprehensive legislation makes REVISIONS TO THE MEMBERSHIP OF BOARDS AND COMMISSIONS TO REFLECT THE ADDITION OF A SEVENTH CONGRESSIONAL DISTRICT. Generally, the legislation either adds an additional seat or converts an existing at-large seat into representation for the seventh congressional district.

The House and Senate appointed a conference committee to address their differences on H.4801. This bill revises the qualifications of persons who may be appointed to the governing board of the PIONEER RURAL WATER DISTRICT of Oconee and Anderson Counties and the manner of their appointment.

The House returned S.1419, a bill revising provisions relating to insurance brokers and SURPLUS LINES INSURANCE, to the Senate with amendments. The legislation provides that the revenue collected from the broker’s premium tax rate must be credited to a special earmarked fund and provides the manner in which the fund may be used and disbursed. The legislation authorizes the director of the Department of Insurance to conduct examinations of broker records and allows the department to promulgate necessary regulations. The legislation provides the manner in which the Nonadmitted and Reinsurance Reform Act of 2010 may be implemented. For the purposes of carrying out the Nonadmitted and Reinsurance Reform Act of 2010, the director of the Department of Insurance or his designee may enter to in an agreement with a single state to facilitate the collection, allocation, and disbursement of premium taxes attributable to the placement of surplus lines insurance, provide for uniform methods of allocation and reporting among surplus lines insurance risk classifications, and share information among states relating to surplus lines insurance premium taxes. The legislation provides authority to participate in a clearing house established through a multistate agreement approved by the General Assembly for the purpose of collecting and disbursing to reciprocal states any funds collected that relate to properties, risks, or exposures located or to be performed outside of this State. To the extent that other states where portions of the properties, risks, or exposures reside have failed to enter into an agreement or reciprocal allocation procedure with this State, the net premium tax collected shall be retained by this State. The legislation revises provisions relating to municipal license fees and taxes, so as to disallow a municipality from charging an additional license fee or tax based upon a percentage of premiums for purposes of surplus lines insurance.