Crossover Shenanigans, Part 2
Both Chambers were back in action last week and that meant a quiet sort of chaos settled over the Statehouse as the House and Senate geared up for Crossover day. This week is going to be a doozy though, so buckle up!
Crossover Shenanigans, Part 2: The Crossover deadline is this week (by April 10th), friends. That looming deadline is going to cast a shadow over any and all business that gets done. Expect few committee hearings and long nights, as any bills that don’t pass completely through one Chamber this week are effectively dead (cue dramatic music). A wise man once told me, though, that anything can be done with a two-thirds vote, so who knows.
A non-conservation, controversial bill has been scheduled for special order in the House. That is going to make for long hours of heated and interesting strategic decisions by members. There are a lot of bills that matter to members behind this one, so this should be interesting to say the least. We have a few bills on the calendar, including E-Waste and Hazardous Waste explained further below.
The Rollercoaster Ride for Land Conservation: The Conservation Enhancement Act (H.4956) was heard last week by the Ways and Means Committee. The subcommittee gleefully amended it to make it work with this Year’s budget allocations (delaying its implementation until 2023), cheerfully said a bunch of really exciting, nice things, and then they happily voted it out favorably. It was a real kumbaya moment. Many thanks go to Subcommittee Chairman Nathan Ballentine and Rep. Phillip Lowe for being such great champions of land conservation.
Unfortunately, with Crossover approaching, the Ways and Means Committee had a lot on its plate. A few members raised some concerns over the bill, and Chairman Murrell Smith had to make the tough decision at the full committee hearing to delay the bill for a Year. He noted that the bill was extremely important to him and the other members of the committee and promised it would be the first legislative priority for next Year’s House. We will be there to make sure it happens.
Waste: There were two bills taken up by the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. First was Electronic Waste (H.4775). This bill reauthorizes legislation over how electronic waste is disposed of. As this legislation was developed, many stakeholders identified ways to improve the process. CVSC was heavily involved to ensure that a landfill ban remains in place.
Second, the Agriculture Committee heard Hazardous Waste bill (H.4999) which amends our state’s Hazardous Waste Management Act to define new terms and clarify site-specific remediation standards for instances where there has been a hazardous waste spill. Though CVSC has not taken a position on this bill, we had some concerns that were raised to the committee. It passed, and they plan to make an amendment to improve it on the floor, and we can expect both bills to be taken up on the House floor. With the impending Crossover deadline, they face a tight schedule.
Green Space Sales Tax: I’m going to switch gears now and talk about the green space sales tax bill (S.152) that authorizes counties to establish a 1% sales tax through a referendum, where the funds generated from the sales tax (if approved by the voters) would benefit land protection efforts in the county. Originally limited to coastal counties, the Senate amended the bill to allow counties from all regions of the state to put a referendum in front of its voters. After passing the Senate in 2021, it has been sitting in the House Ways and Means Committee waiting for its spotlight – now is the time! We hope to see a hearing soon after the House comes back from a furlough next week. Encourage your representative to support this bill!
Conservation Coalition Lobby Day & Oyster Roast: Join Conservation Voters and the SC Conservation Coalition for a fun day of advocating and celebrating conservation on April 26th (Please note the date change because of changes in the legislative schedule!). Be a part of making an impact at the State House with fellow volunteers, staff, and elected officials. Click here to learn more and sign up!