Two Chamber Priorities Advance in SC Senate

February 26, 2021

After two long weeks of debate, the SC Ports Authority Bond Bill passed the Senate. The bill allows the South Carolina Ports Authority (SCPA) to bond up to $550 million in General Obligation Bonds for the Navy Base Intermodal Facility (NBIF) by the nearly completed Hugh K. Leatherman, Sr. Terminal and barge operation between the Wando Terminal and Leatherman Terminal.

The SCPA will operate a dual served Navy Base Intermodal Facility near the Hugh K. Leatherman, Sr. Terminal. Barge operation will be used from the Wando Terminal, reducing truck moves on our roadways. From the $550 million, $400 million will be for the NBIF and $150 million will be used for barge-related equipment, extending the Wando Wharf and create another berth at the Hugh K. Leatherman, Sr. Terminal. With the Georgia Ports Authority’s completion of the Mason Mega rail project, they now have a significant competitive advantage. The SCPA needs the NBIF to remain competitive in the future and, with the Leatherman Terminal set to open this year, it is needed as soon as possible.

There were some amendments to the bill, but they may change when it goes through the House process:

  • Senator Setzler’s amendment would require the SCPA to provide the Joint Bond Review Committee a progress report on the NBIF and barge project each month once the bonds are issued.
  • Another amendment by Senator Richard Cash of Anderson requires the SCPA, after three years of the bonds being issued, to pay $1 per container up to $150 million to the state’s general fund.

Like I said, this could change once the House takes up the bill.

Yesterday, the Senate also passed S.147 the COVID-19 Liability Safe Harbor Act. After some compromise and minor tweaking, the bill received its final reading. You may recall the push for this legislation began last year. Our Chamber, along with nearly 20 other Chambers around the state, advocated for COVID liability protections for businesses since the pandemic started. This topic was discussed extensively by our GrowSC Agenda and the AccelerateSC Task Force, which ultimately included a recommendation that the General Assembly “take steps to protect businesses that follow safety guidelines” in their final recommendations.

The bill now moves to the House, where it will be taken up by the House Judiciary Committee.

Finally, an impact fee/inclusionary zoning bill was shelved in a House Ways and Means subcommittee on Thursday. H.3460 would have added a 6% impact fee to all residential and commercial construction and would require the funds to go into a state fund. To bypass this fee, the developer would have to provide low income housing for 100 years, making this a mandatory inclusionary zoning bill. Our Chamber opposed this bill because it would make the affordable housing issues in our region worse. We worked with the Homebuilders, State Chamber and Greenville Chamber to defeat the bill.

As always, we will keep you up to date on the latest from Columbia. Have a great weekend.

George Ramsey
Senior Director of Legislative Relations

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