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This week the House and Senate conferees continue to meet as they work through their differences on the 2017-2018 budget and capital reserve fund. The Lowcountry is well represented on the conference committee with Senator Sean Bennett and Representative Leon Stavrinakis serving. The conferees hope to have the conference report finished by the end of the week and the Legislature will return next week to take up the conference report.
Status Update on Legislative Priorities
With session now technically over and the roads bill now enacted into law, here’s an update on some other bills the Chamber has been tracking this session. A reminder, South Carolina’s legislature works on a two year cycle, any bill not signed into law this year is still alive when lawmakers reconvene in January, 2018.
Real ID – Enacted into Law: H.3358
The legislation brings SC drivers licenses and state ID’s in compliance with the 2005 Federal Real ID Act. South Carolina was one of a handful of states not in compliance with the federal legislation. With the passing of the legislation, SC will receive an extension as SCDMV works towards full compliance, allowing you to continue to fly domestically and access federal facilities. Click for more information on how to obtain your Real ID compliant card.
South Carolina Pension System Reform – Enacted into Law: H.3726
The State pension system is facing a more than $20 billion shortfall. This legislation is the first step to solving the system’s unfunded liability. The legislation does the following:
- Increases and caps the employee contribution from 8.66% to 9% for state employees and 9.24% to 9.75% for police and fire fighters
- Increases employer contribution by 8% over the next 6 years
- Lowers the expected rate of return from 7.5% to 7.25%
- Alters the governance structure of the Investment Commission and the Public Employee Benefit Authority
The Joint Committee on Pension System Review will continue to meet over the summer and fall as they search for a solution that moves the state away from a defined benefit system.
Automatic Stay – Passed Senate and in House Judiciary Committee: S.105
The legislation removes indefinite automatic stay making it much more difficult for outside groups to shut down the permitting process for road and development projects in the Administrative Law Court. Currently, you can pay a $600 fee and postage to file a lawsuit against a project and you stop the project in its tracks. If the legislation is enacted, you will need to show cause that the project will be harmful to people or the environment and pay a bond. In January, we will continue to work with our delegation to advance this bill through the House.
Expungement Bill- Passed House and is on Senate Floor: H.3209
The legislation addresses our state’s workforce shortage by improving pathways to employment for those previously incarcerated for non-violent offenses. The bill was amended to include perfecting language on expungements and to add employer liability protection. On the last days remaining in session, one Senator put his name on the bill thus moving it to the contested calendar. During the off-season, our Chamber, along with the Greenville Chamber and State Chamber, will work with that legislator to find a compromise. If a resolution can’t be reached, we will push for the bill to be marked for special order.
High-impact Jobs Incentives – Passed the Senate and in House Ways and Means Committee: S.404
The legislation is a jobs tax credit for qualifying legal, accounting, banking, investment services operations, among others to help attract high-impact jobs that do not meet current incentive programs. This tool will help attract Tech, R&D and non-manufacturing companies. Unfortunately, the House Ways and Means committee didn’t meet the last three weeks of session or I believe this would’ve made it to the House floor and received passage. It should pass the House early next year.
Business License Fee – Recalled to House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee: H.3650
This legislation streamlines and standardizes the license fee process with common payment dates. This bill bogged down this year for numerous reasons. However the State Chamber is working with the Municipal Association on a potential compromise for housing the online collection portal which was a major sticking point. An agreement is within reach so hopefully there will be some movement on this bill early next year.
Capital Improvement Bond Bill – Debate adjourned on the House floor until January: H.3722
The monies generated will be used by the state agencies, colleges, universities and technical schools for capital and technology improvements. House Ways and Means Chair Brian White has stated that he wants to keep the bond bill under $500 million (it won’t increase our payments on current bonds) and will kill the bill if items are tacked on during debate on the floor. The current version of the bill totals just over $498 million statewide. Problems arose on the floor when many in the Orangeburg delegation wanted more money included for South Carolina State University. Meaning something would need to be cut elsewhere or it would increase the bond bill over Chairman White’s $500 million threshold. We remain hopeful that cooler heads will prevail and the first bond bill in over 17 years passes next year.
Angel Investor Tax Credit Reauthorization – Assigned to Ways and Means Committee: H.4035
The Angel Investor Tax Credit provides assistance to investors who put their capital in small growing businesses. The current legislation will sunset in 2019. The bill was filed late in the legislative year and we will continue to push for passage next year. The new legislation will reauthorize the tax credit for six years and increase the cap from $5 million to $10 million.
Nuisance Suits – Passed House on Senate Floor: H.3653
This legislation protects existing manufacturers and industrial facilities from frivolous lawsuits and legal expenses as residential growth moves closer to large manufacturing facilities. It is likely this bill will pass early next year. Time ran out as this was the first year of the shortened session.