Things are really moving in Columbia!
The Statehouse was bustling last week as legislation continued to move in both chambers of the General Assembly. That’s both a good and bad thing for our conservation movement.
In the House, a diluted but still dangerous bill we’ve been fighting for years finally passed. We’re not happy about that. But we are happy to see bills promoting renewables and energy efficiency move through committee.
In the Senate, the Conservation Bank is still on the right track, inching closer and closer to reauthorization before the June deadline.
Expect to see an increase in legislative activity over the coming weeks, which means…
… There will be plenty to talk about during our Lobby Day and Oyster Roast on March 20th.
Oh, if you haven’t registered for the Coalition Lobby Day and Oyster Roast, YOU BETTER HURRY! Space is limited.
As always, thank you! And please keep up the amazing support, especially on these issues…
HIGHLIGHTS FROM LAST WEEK
• Protecting the Automatic Stay – After years of heated debate, S.105 passed the House this week by a vote of 86-30. As passed, the Auto Stay will be substantially limited, making it harder for citizens to challenge permits, while allowing construction to begin before a permit is finalized. We’re disappointed with the outcome, but we’re grateful for the many legislators who worked to improve the bill. Many thanks to Representatives Mandy Powers Norrell, James Smith, Gary Clary, Beth Bernstein, Weston Newton, and John King, who helped us achieve a better outcome than we might have gotten otherwise.
• Reauthorization of the Conservation Bank – H.4727 was discussed in a Senate Finance subcommittee Thursday where Senators Setzler, Williams, and Campbell reviewed the House bill line by line. We expect them to continue their discussion soon about how to reauthorize the Conservation Bank and continue this innovative, voluntary land protection effort.
• Managing Solid Waste – H.4644 passed out of the House Agriculture committee thanks to the hard work of Rep. Chandra Dillard, and is headed to the floor for a vote this week. This bill would give the State Department of Health and Environmental Control the resources it would need to better respond to hazardous landfill emergencies. You may remember the 2015 fire in Chester County that took more than three months to contain and blanketed the area with a thick layer of toxic smoke. The bill also adds some site requirements to construction and demolition (C&D) debris recycling facilities. Check out this story from The Island Packet for more on why C&D regulations are important and to read about a situation in Jasper County that could happen in your backyard.
THE WEEK AHEAD
• Preserving Our Right to Home Rule – H.3529, otherwise known as the ban on plastic bag bans, is in subcommittee in the Senate Labor, Commerce, and Industry (LCI) Committee this Wednesday. The meeting is at 10 am in Room 307 of the Gressette Building. If passed, this bill would take away your right to decide how you deal with plastic bags and other trash in your community. We need your full support to make sure this bill does not pass the Senate. Please remind your Senator that we are a home rule state and we need to support local solutions for local problems.
• Enforcing Anti-Litter Laws – H.4458 is in a Senate Judiciary subcommittee this Wednesday at 11 am. That meeting is in Room 207 of the Gressette Building. This bill gives greater discretion to Law Enforcement for litter penalties, distinguishing between illegal dumping and smaller infractions. With a broad spectrum of support, this bill should move along quickly.
• Reforming Our Energy System – After passing out of a House Judiciary subcommittee last week, two exciting energy bills will move to full House Judiciary Committee this Tuesday. That meeting will be in Room 516 of the Blatt Building at 2:30pm or (or 90 minutes after adjournment, whichever is later). H.4421 will make a number of improvements to the solar market in SC including eliminating net metering caps on residential solar use. H.4425 will help ratepayers reduce their power bills by investing in cost-effective energy efficiency efforts. Please continue to tell your Representatives that you support solar energy and energy efficiency.
That’s it for now. Thanks for staying engaged!