The first thing I want to do is apologize if you have called or emailed and not received a personal reply back. Rest assured your messages and emails are being read by me and I appreciate your input in the process. I have received well over 1000 correspondences regarding the roads issue. Though the opinions were split on how to handle the roads, there was no disagreement that our roads are in poor shape and need to be fixed.
On Wednesday of this past week, the Republican Caucus came together on a plan that calls for the reform of Department of Transportation (DOT) system and funding of the roads with an additional $400 million dollars annually. This matches the amount of money that the House sent over to us in their bill and does so without raising taxes – we have the money.
The reform changes the way DOT commissioners are appointed from the Legislature to the Governor. It also brings the State Infrastructure Bank (SIB) under the DOT and gives the DOT commission the power to “override” SIB decisions. We believe this will help us create a more consistent statewide perspective for the DOT and reduce the politics in the process. The issue is not with the DOT employees, who did an incredible job responding to the floods last fall, but with the system we have given them in which to operate.
This is not a done deal. After coming together on the plan Wednesday, we agreed to give the Democrats the chance to be heard on their ideas of how to handle the roads issue. I am sure they will sound very good in their arguments, but the problem is they never grasped that a super majority of our Caucus were not willing to pass a tax increase on to working South Carolinians when we already have the money needed.
Part of their argument will be that we are taking money from other core functions such as Education and Public Safety, which is not the case. The fact is, we know we have a projected 1.2 billion in additional revenues for the next budget year that begins July 1, of which over $500 million is in uncommitted recurring dollars. Rumors last week were that the next estimate from the Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) actually shows us doing even better. Again, we have the money to fund the roads without taking funds way from core functions.
Another part of their argument will be that $400 million is not enough money to fix the roads. I don’t necessarily disagree, but our plan will put more money in the system over the next two years than any of the other plans. I believe once reforms take place in the structure of the DOT, there will be a greater level of trust in knowing that the priorities are the priorities and they will be addressed in the proper order. I believe more revenue will follow when that trust is reestablished.
This plan is definitely a compromise for those of us that backed the original Caucus plan and definitely for those that were okay with the Finance Committee bill. But like a great philosopher once said – “You can’t always get what you want, but if you try sometimes, you just might find, you get what you need!” I believe our plan does what we need at this time and I hope we stick together and get the bill passed for the people of South Carolina.
Again, please feel free to contact me by email or phone and know that your message will be heard. Below is a list of other bills that were dealt with on the Senate floor this week.
Remember, you can follow us live in committee meetings and while on the floor by going to www.scstatehouse.gov.
SUMMARY OF THIS WEEK IN REVIEW: February 29-March 4, 2016
The Senate had Third Readings on the following and they were sent to the House of Representatives:
S788 Managed Tidal Impoundment Preservation Act: A bill to exempt from permitting requirements of Title 48 Chapter 39 routine, normal or emergency maintenance repair within tidal impoundment field relying on outgoing tide for drainage.
S626 Solar Property Tax Exemption: A bill to exempt eighty percent of the fair market value of a renewable energy resource for a period of ten years provided the property is operational by December 31, 2020 and to exempt a distributed renewable energy generation property for residential use.
S868 Eminent Domain By Pipeline Companies (inadvertently shown last week as having received third reading): A bill to provide procedures for the exercise of eminent domain by pipeline companies, to provide certain related certification or permitting functions at the public service commission and the DHEC, and to provide property owner rights.
S284 Good Manufacturing Practices Regulations: A bill to give the Commissioner of Agriculture latitude to establish good manufacturing practices and to further provide that very small businesses are not required to comply with any requirement to implement hazard analysis and risk-based preventive controls under the federal practice regulations.
S1035 South Carolina Telemedicine Act: A bill to facilitate the use of telemedicine by establishing certain recordkeeping requirements and to allow prescription of drugs when the physician-patient relationship is established by telemedicine.
The Senate had Third Reading on the following and they were returned to the House of Representatives with amendment:
H3265 Comprehensive Health Education Programs: A bill to provide that each student must receive instruction in cardiopulmonary resuscitation at least once during the entire four years of grades nine through twelve and to provide that school districts must implement the provisions of this act before the beginning of the 2017-2018 school year.
H4639 Higher Education Interstate Reciprocity Agreements: A bill to provide that the Commission on Higher Education may enter in to interstate reciprocity agreements that authorize accredited degree-granting institutions of higher education in this State to offer postsecondary distance education in a certain manner and to provide related powers and duties of the Commission.
The Senate had Second Readings on the following and they were ordered for third reading:
H3534 Higher Education Excellence Enhancement Program: A bill to include an institution that offers at least one nonsectarian program at the baccalaureate level, and to include an institution accredited by an organization that is recognized by the United States Department of Education and also receives Title III funding.
S238 Inmates: A bill to establish a procedure to allow an inmate who is not a security risk to attend the funeral service of certain individuals and visit certain individuals while they are hospitalized.
H3576 Youth Sports Organizations: A bill to provide that certain written agreements between nonprofit youth sports organizations and coaches provide conclusive evidence that the coach is an independent contractor rather than an employee of the organization and that the organization is exempt from certain obligations concerning workers’ compensation coverage, unemployment insurance coverage and income tax withholdings.
S1013 Real Estate Brokers: A bill to specify that certain duties and responsibilities belong to the Real Estate Commission rather than to the Department of LLR, to delete the provision requiring licensure applicants to submit a credit report and to require applicants to undergo a criminal records check; to revise education and related requirements of certain licenses; to provide the circumstances in which the commission may recognize a real estate license from another State and to provide specific requirements for nonresident licensees; to provide that no cause of action arises if an owner of real estate or a licensee does not disclose the location of a registered sex offender; to further specify the relationships and the duties and responsibilities of brokers in charge, brokerage firms and licensees to their clients, customers, agents and other licensed individuals.
S971/H4666 Domestic Violence Fatality Review Committee: A bill to establish the domestic violence fatality review committee in each circuit, to further provide the appropriate protocols which must be followed by the committees, the composition of the committee and the confidentiality of the information.
Favorable Report with amendment: (Staff Contact Paula Benson, firstname.lastname@example.org)
H3325 Uniform Partition of Heirs’ Property Act: A bill to enact the Uniform Partition of Heirs’ Property Act providing for notice by publication in a partition action, to provide procedures for a court to follow in determining the value of the property and factors for a court to consider for different types of partitions. It will further provide for open-market sales, sealed bids or auctions.
H4548 Dealership/Closing Fees (similar to S911) with minority report
The information contained herein is prepared by the staff of the South Carolina Senate and is not the expression of the Senate. It is strictly for the internal use and benefit of members of the Senate and is not to be construed by a court of law as an expression of legislative intent.