Month: April 2019

Update: 4/27/2019

It’s been a busy year and hard to believe this year’s session is almost over. As we return to session, here’s some of what happened in the State House last week.

The House returned to session this week after taking a week off. With two weeks to go, the House will focus upon the State Budget, as well as legislation passed by the Senate, with the goal of getting as much as possible sent to the Governor’s desk before we adjourn for the rest of the year.

The State Budget

This week, the House will take up the amended budget sent back from the Senate. While it’s possible the House will vote to accept the budget as-is, usually the budget ends up being sent to conference committee composed of House and Senate members who will negotiate a single budget between the two version of the Budget – the House and Senate versions – and the General Assembly will then return later this month or next to adopt a final Budget.

The budget will likely end up close to $9.3 billion when finally passed. Unlike the federal government, the state is required to adopt a balanced budget so we are constrained to spend no more than estimated revenue.

Some of the changes made by the Senate to the House budget include:

  • State Support to Public Schools: The House version of the budget would give $150 million, at no cost to local districts, for teacher pay raises. The Senate added $15 million to the Base Student Cost but requires the local district to match the funds.
  • Taxpayer Rebate: The Senate changed the $50 tax rebate to per return and not per taxpayer with an income tax liability.
  • State Employees Raises: The Senate added a $600 one-time bonus for state employees earning less than $70,000 per year on top of the 2 percent across the board pay increase for state employees the House had in the budget.
  • Farm Aid — Hurricane Devastation: The Senate added $25 million to set-aside for a grant program to assist famers who suffered devastating crop losses as a result of the flooding associated with Hurricanes Michael and Florence in Fall 2018.

House Bills passed by the Senate last week

 “Tucker Hipps Transparency Act” (H.3398): The Senate voted to pass the House bill, sending it to Governor McMaster’s desk for his approval. This legislation will require state colleges and universities to publicly report findings of misconduct by fraternities and sororities. The current law was set to expire after a three-year period but this law will make the provisions of the law permanent.

Karson Whitesell Memorial (H.3572): Many in the Fort Mill area were affected by the tragic murder of Karson Whitesell while working at the Peach Stand. This legislation that would name the intersection of US Highway 21 and SC Highway 160 in Fort Mill after her. While this doesn’t undo this tragedy, it does help honor the memory of this young life lost. I was the primary sponsor of this bill.

Rideshare Safety Update

The Senate has taken recommendations from popular rideshare companies and replaced the House version of the Samantha Josephson Rideshare Safety Act with their own proposal. Instead of light-up signs on Uber and Lyft vehicles, the bill now requires rideshare drivers to display license plate numbers on the front of their cars.

House members will look at the Senate bill and decide if we will accept their version or seek to work on getting the Senate to approve the House version, known as H. 4380, which passed in a bi-partisan 99-1 vote. The need to get on top of ride-sharing safety is urgent so we will work quickly on this issue.

Also Sent To The Senate

In addition to these bills which were sent to the Senate this week, these are some of the more important House bills which are awaiting action in the Senate:

  • H. 3759: The S.C. Education, Career, Opportunity, and Access for All Act
  • H.3728: Expanding the state’s Prescription Monitoring Program to track the usage of opioid antidotes by hospitals and first responders.
  • H.3730: Felony charges for trafficking in fentanyl.
  • H.3807: Teen Skin Cancer Prevention Act (Felder, Davis)
  • H.3936: Expanded lottery college funding
  • H. 3046: Provide for the Offense of Furthering Terrorism

The House will be working hard to wrap up the next two weeks, including some possible late evening sessions, as we work to get as much off our desks and to the Governor for his review and signature. I’ll have further updates coming to keep you posted about what we’re up to.

Questions or Concerns?

As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please don’t hesitate to contact me at RayeFelder@SCHouse.gov. You can look up these  – and other – bills, as well as daily journals of the House and Senate and calendars of pending days of session by going online to www.SCStateHouse.gov.

Update: 4/12/2019

Last week was a busy week in Columbia, as the House passed legislation covering a wide range of subjects. With the “crossover” date behind us, each chamber will spend much of our remaining time focusing on legislation passed by the other with the goal of getting bills sent to Governor McMaster for his review and signature before time runs out in this year’s legislative session.

After sending a number of bills over to the Senate for their consideration, the House will take the week off after spending much of the last few weeks working on the state budget and education reform. Here are some of the bills which were passed by the House and sent over to the Senate prior to the cross-over deadline:

PUBLIC SAFETY AND OPIOID ABUSE:

  • H.4380, the “SAMANTHA L. JOSEPHSON RIDESHARING SAFETY ACT” was passed in a bi-partisan 99-1 vote to revise the state’s Transportation Network Company Act for greater rider safety.  Under the new requirements, a Transportation Network Company vehicle must make use of an illuminated sign displaying the company’s proprietary trademark or logo that allows the vehicle to be recognized in darkness.  The legislation establishes requirements for this sign and other identifying emblems to be returned when a driver ceases to be employed by the company.   
  • H.3728 expands the state’s PRESCRIPTION MONITORING PROGRAM. This requires the Department of Health and Environmental Control to include and maintain information in the prescription monitoring program on the administering of opioid antidotes in a hospital emergency department or by a first responder.
  • H.3730 establishes makes it a felony to TRAFFICK IN FENTANYL in amounts at least four grams of fentanyl, fentanyl‑related substances, or mixtures. Penalties include a term of imprisonment of not more than ten years and a fine of up to fifty thousand dollars for a first offense, and a term of imprisonment of not more than twenty years and a fine of up to one hundred thousand dollars, for a second or subsequent offense.
  • H.3307 makes provisions for a searchable online DATABASE ON PROPERTY SEIZED BY LAW ENFORCEMENT AND FORFEITED
  • H.3174: ELECTRIC-POWERED BICYCLES. This legislation, which I sponsored, would require bicycles with helper motors to be considered the same as regular bicycles under state laws when operated on public roads. These are relatively new on our roadways and this legislation will help close that loophole.

EDUCATION

  • H.3403: COMPENTENCY-BASED SCHOOLS. I am one of the sponsors of this bi-partisan legislation, which creates guidelines and requirements for competency-based schools. Competency-based schools place a stronger emphasis upon teaching mastery of concrete skills and provide an alternative approach to educating students.

HEALTH

  • H.3967: RESTRAINING INMATES WHO ARE PREGNANT OR IN POSTPARTUM RECUPERATION.  This legislation details the safety methods and restrictions that are to be followed in correctional facilities and other settings for using wrist restraints or other types of restraints on inmates who are pregnant or have been determined to be in postpartum recuperation.
  • H.3036 “DYLAN’S LAW” would require the Department of Environmental Control to add tests for certain neonatal genetic disorders and diseases to the existing newborn screening program.  The legislation establishes the Newborn Screening Advisory Committee to review the feasibility and advisability of including additional metabolic, genetic, and congenital disorders in the neonatal testing.

TAX REFORM

  • H.3205 makes revisions to the Catawba Indian Claims Settlement Act to eliminate an obsolete tax provision affecting the York County-based Catawba Indian Tribe.
  • H.3210: HIGH GROWTH SMALL BUSINESS JOB CREATION ACT REAUTHORIZATION.  The legislationreauthorizes the High Growth Small Business Job Creation Act for an additional six years.

VETERANS

  • H.4439 designates the sixteenth day of July of each year as ‘ATOMIC VETERANS DAY’ in South Carolina to recognize those who participated in aboveground nuclear tests between 1945 and 1962, served with the United States military occupation forces in or around Hiroshima and Nagasaki before 1946, or were held as prisoners of war in or near Hiroshima or Nagasaki.

In addition to these bills which were sent to the Senate this week, these are some of the more important House bills awaiting action in the Senate:

  • H. 3759 – The S.C. Education, Career, Opportunity, and Access for All Act
  • H. 4000 and H. 4001 – The General Appropriations Bill and Capital Reserve Fund (the budget)
  • H.3951 – Tighter qualifications for holding the Office of Sheriff
  • H.3936 – Expanded lottery college funding
  • H. 4243 – Professional Sports Team Investment Act
  • H. 3046 – Provide for the Offense of Furthering Terrorism

When we return next week, we hope to see progress in the Senate with these and other bills.

The following bills were received from the Senate and were passed. They will be sent to Governor McMaster for his consideration:

  • S.205 requires the Department of Aging’s ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AND RELATED DISORDERS RESOURCE COORDINATION CENTER to facilitate the coordination and integration of educational initiatives for health care providers on the importance and value of early detection and timely diagnosis of cognitive impairment, validated cognitive assessment tools, and increasing understanding and awareness of early warning signs of Alzheimer’s disease and other types of dementia and how to reduce the risk of cognitive decline.
  • H.3420: PREVENTING YOUTH ACCESS TO VAPING, CIGARETTES, AND OTHER TOBACCO AND NICOTINE PRODUCTS.  The House adopted legislation which was amended by the Senate which updates the “Youth Access to Tobacco Prevention Act of 2006” to include vaping. The legislation would do a number of things, including prohibit minors under the age of eighteen from entering retail establishments that primarily sell tobacco products, alternative nicotine products, or both, unless the minor is actively supervised and accompanied by an adult.  The legislation also revises the restrictions governing Internet commerce and other remote sales that requires the signature of a person at least eighteen years of age before a tobacco product or alternative nicotine product will be released to the purchaser, unless the remote seller employs certain alternative protections to ensure age verification. 
  • H.3929: TEMPORARY ENHANCED AUTHORITY TO FORGIVE MISSED SCHOOLS DAYS. After the flooding experienced by areas of the state in recent months, this legislation provides that a local school district may waive the requirements of making up days missed during the 2018‑2019 School Year because of snow, extreme weather conditions, or other disruptions requiring schools to close.

Questions or Concerns?

As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please don’t hesitate to contact me at RayeFelder@SCHouse.gov.