Welcome back to the State House! The 2016 legislative year marks the second year in a two year session. That means a lot of the issues we worked on last year will still be on the table.
2015 was a more tumultuous year for our state than any of us expected with the Emmanuel Nine tragedy in June and the historic vote to remove the Confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds. October’s devastating flooding will permeate many of the conversations as the legislature re-convenes. Conservation Voters hopes these discussions will explore both immediate fixes, as well as sustainable long-term solutions. If the floods of 2015 are indicative of a “new normal,” South Carolina must be better prepared.
We are working with our partners in the Conservation Coalition to support the following issues:
1. Pass a comprehensive bill to stabilize the funding and security of the Conservation Bank. With the help of Senator Campsen (S.519) and Rep. Bingham (to be introduced as a companion to the Senate bill), we aim to eliminate the sunset, improve the death clause, and increase funding by .05 cents (as recommended by the Wetlands Task Force).
2. Oppose Regulatory Rollbacks that threaten the rights of South Carolinians. We will defend the “automatic stay” that prevents irreparable harm (S.165); support DHEC board review of permits (S.228); and oppose weakening the Pollution Control Act (S.229).
3. Implement the recommendations from DHEC’s Blue Ribbon Committee on Shoreline Management and restore the permanent baseline language to S.139. We’ve been talking about setting a permanent baseline to limit seaward development on our shoreline for several years — it is time to settle this question now.
4. Support DHEC’s desire to improve funding for their Bureau of Water programs. As part of the overhaul of the dam safety program, we support House Speaker Lucas’s bill to improve the dam safety law, H.4565.
5. Fund Pinewood. We will continue to support efforts to properly fund, maintain, and monitor the Pinewood hazardous waste site.
We also pause today to honor the memory of Senator Billy O’Dell, a dedicated public servant.
As more issues arise throughout the session, we will keep you updated. Together, we hope to have a productive, thoughtful, and kind year at the State House. Thank you for your support.