On Thursday at 5:00 p.m., the legislative session came to an end in Columbia. Several of the Chamber’s legislative priorities made it to the finish line, even with Hate Crimes dead for the year. The legislature still has plenty of work to do when they return at noon on June 15, the day after the primaries. There are over a dozen conference committees that will be meeting and about $1.5 billion difference between the House and Senate versions of the budget. All that to say there is plenty of work to do before they return next month.
Legislative Priority Wins
H.3247, the Workforce Enhancement and Military Recognition Act, passed the Senate on Thursday and was sent to the Governor’s desk for his signature. The bill exempts military retiree pay from the state income tax. This has been a Chamber priority for nearly a decade and it finally made it to the finish line. This is a huge win for our service members and retaining their talent in our state.
H.3144, the South Carolina Workforce Industry Needs Scholarship or SC WINS, is a statewide technical college scholarship for SC students designed to address workforce shortages in critical need areas. The scholarship supplements the Lottery Tuition Assistance. The extension of this scholarship will help address workforce needs in our region and state.
H.3948 allows counties who have either a capital projects sales tax or a transportation sales tax to go to voters, where current state law only allows one of the sales taxes to go to voters via referendum, to implement both sales tax programs if voters approve them. This is a huge win for the region and allows counties the ability to ask the voters for more funding for infrastructure, which, as we all know, is a critical need.
Other Legislation of Note
The bill that would split DHEC, known as S.2, died on the House Calendar as did the legislation aiming to ditch the certificate of need in South Carolina, as both failed to receive second reading on Wednesday.
You may recall the election reform bill that many thought was dead once the Senate amended the House version. The amended version included Senate advice and consent of all election commission board members thought to be a poison pill. Well, a compromise was reached this week and South Carolina will now have two weeks of early voting and mail-in ballots. The two weeks of early voting will begin for the primaries and the mail-in ballots will begin for this year’s General Election.
Again, there is much work to be done with the budget and the income tax relief bill as the House and Senate are far apart on their two versions of the bill. We will continue to keep you posted as the negotiations begin. The conferees for the two bills are new Speaker of the House, Murrell Smith, Interim Ways and Means Chairman, Gary Simrill, and Minority Leader Todd Rutherford. In the Senate, the conferees are Senate President, Thomas Alexander, Senate Finance Chairman, Harvey Peeler, and Senator Nikki Setzler. It’s going to be a battle.
Although the legislative session has ended, your Government Relations team is still hard at work. In the next few weeks, we will release our 2022 Legislative Scorecard and thank our Champions of Business at State Delegation Appreciation on June 16.