At the Statehouse – Good news: House budget week is over. Better news: Tomorrow is…
If you’ve ever tried to sit down with your entire family to create a budget for your home, you know it’s not an easy process.
Now imagine what that process looks like when it’s not a few family members making a budget for a home, but 124 Representatives making a budget for an entire state.
That’s what happened this past week in the South Carolina House of Representatives. It was my first time watching the House debate the budget… and it was enlightening.
Here’s what happens:
- The House starts off the budget process, working through a long, complicated committee process that yields a final line-item document. This document is the starting point of the approval process in the House.
- The House floor debate can take all week, but is usually done in three to four days. The last day can run into the wee hours of the night but this Year, they got the entire thing done in two very long days.
- The budget came out about as we expected, with important programs like the Conservation Bank getting the money they asked for. Next up, the Senate will review the House budget and make changes the first week of April.
Why is any of this important? Because the state budget determines the priorities for South Carolina over the next fiscal Year.
And as voters, we’re the ones responsible for setting those priorities… through our elected lawmakers.
One way to take an active role in that process? Join us tomorrow at the Conservation Lobby Day.
If you’ve never lobbied your legislators before, don’t worry! We’ll be offering free training in the morning before we walk over to the Statehouse.
And afterward, you’re invited to join us at 701 Whaley in Columbia for an oyster roast, chili and conversation with fellow conversations.
Here’s what else is going on…
THE WEEK AHEAD
• Solar Energy Showdown – Two residential solar bills are on the House floor this week. H.4421 is the pro-solar bill that would remove net-metering caps, allowing the solar industry to grow in South Carolina. H.5045 is the pro-utility bill, ushered to the floor virtually overnight, that would eliminate the solar energy free market established in 2014 — killing thousands of solar jobs. This is our moment to make sure residential solar customers are treated fairly. Please ask your Representative to vote for solar growth this week.
• Solar Habitat – H.4875 encourages Solar Farms to plant native grasses and other vegetation under their panels that will provide food and shelter for birds and bees. The bill passed out of the House LCI committee and will be on the House floor this week for a vote.
• Conservation Bank Reauthorization – It is gratifying to see how far the bank has come over the past few months. If passed by the Senate this week, H.4727 will permanently reauthorize the Conservation Bank, maintain its independence and competitive grants process, and continue its ability to support cost-effective conservation easements. Please help us ask your Senator to support this bill.
HIGHLIGHTS FROM LAST WEEK
• The Budget – The Conservation Bank’s budget request was fully funded at $8 million in the House. That includes $3.5 million recurring dollars from the General Fund, $1.5 million from the Capital Reserve Fund, and $3 million that will be transferred to DNR; plus some additional money for administrative/staff expenses – about $265,000. Next, it’ll head to the Senate.
• Anti-Home Rule – H.3529 would take away a community’s ability to ban certain types of disposable containers, like plastic bags. Unfortunately, it narrowly passed to the full Senate Labor, Commerce, and Industry (LCI) Committee by a vote of 4-3. The testimony was strong. Folks who worked in their communities up and down the coast on local ordinances spoke about the need to prevent plastics from winding up on our beaches, in the seafood we eat, and killing the wildlife that is so integral to our beautiful state. The bill will be heard before the full Senate LCI committee this Thursday at 9 am. Please ask your Senator to oppose this erosion of Home Rule.
That’s it for now. Thanks for staying engaged!