Legislative Hotlist: January 9, 2023
Hey there! January 10th starts off a brand new session and it is full of opportunity and possibilities. Your CVSC team is raring to go and I am especially excited to be back in the lobby, fighting for our land, air, and water!
New Year, New House: Redistricting, retirements, and the recent election brought 27 new members into the 124 member House. That is a huge freshman class – nearly 22% of the entire Chamber. Add to those new faces the fact that nearly all the leadership is new and things look very different – there’s a new Speaker (Rep. Murrell Smith), a new Majority Leader (Rep. Davey Hiott), and seven of the eight standing committees have new Chairs.
What’s back? While the last session was a success, we didn’t get it all done. Luckily, Senators Chip Campsen and Tom Davis are looking out for land and have refiled the Conservation Enhancement Act (S.280). This bill unfortunately timed out last year, but it would restore a reliable funding source for the Conservation Bank by allocating twenty-five cents of every deed recording fee to the agency. This very cleverly ties funding for land conservation to the rate of development in the state and gets us closer to doubling protected lands across the State.
Additionally, the same Senators have filed the South Carolina Public Lands Enhancement Act (S.281). This bill reallocates a portion of the sales tax revenue generated by sporting goods stores to a fund dedicated to capital improvements of public lands such as parks and wildlife management areas.
What are we watching for? A new session means the world is our oyster, so we have been watching the news and working behind the scenes to develop our legislative agenda for the next two years – here are some highlights!
A Clean Energy Transition: The Holiday Season was a cold one and power interruptions across the state further highlight what we’ve been saying: we need to re-evaluate the way we manage the electric grid and diversify our generation mix with more renewables. The General Assembly has had a number of committees meeting in the off season on these topics and all signs point to some big legislation coming out of that work. We’ll be working hard to see that it includes a transition to clean energy and lower bills for ratepayers.
Expanding Electric Vehicle Access: Y’all. A lot has been happening on the Electric Vehicle (EV) front. In October, BMW announced a huge shift to EV manufacturing at its Spartanburg facility. At the same time, SCDOT released its National Electric Vehicle Infrastructure Plan to utilize federal dollars to install chargers along key corridors in South Carolina. Governor Henry McMaster signed an executive order which created a point person for the EV industry in the SC Department of Commerce and required the SC Department of Employment and Workforce to study workforce development needs in the EV space.
These stories are the tip of the iceberg when it comes to EV manufacturing, charging, and supplier companies calling South Carolina home.
But if South Carolina is going to be a prime location for EV and battery manufacturing, we have to make the state more EV and energy storage friendly. Therefore, CVSC is working with numerous stakeholders and partners to develop legislation that puts more EVs on the road and more charging infrastructure to support them. Stay tuned!
Protecting Community Landmarks: We all know the obvious conservation benefits of land protection, but what about the less obvious benefits? Land tells the story of those who have used it, which begs the question: Which stories are being protected and which aren’t? One of the highlights of my off-session has been learning more about Rosenwald Schools and their impact across the South – especially in our state.
Rosenwald Schools were schools built for African American students in the South prior to desegregation. They were funded by challenge grants from Julius Rosenwald, a Jewish philanthropist and President of Sears who was inspired to fund the schools after meeting Booker T. Washington and seeing the success of his Tuskegee Institute. As a result, over 5,000 schools were built across the South with African American communities working to raise matching funds and donating land for school sites. Nearly 500 were built in South Carolina and these schools became integral to the communities they served. While some of these schools in South Carolina have been protected, many more lie in disrepair or have been demolished – the stories they held in danger of being lost forever. Estimates are that only 40 of the nearly 500 South Carolina Rosenwald Schools remain.
In October CVSC partnered with WeGOJA and the Pine Grove Rosenwald School to host the SC Rosenwald School Workshop which brought together elected officials, state agencies, community groups, and conservation groups to ask ourselves how we can work together to better protect these cultural landmarks and the stories they hold. This session we’ll be working at the legislature to funnel resources toward the protection of Rosenwald Schools in South Carolina.
Join Us! Welcome the new session by joining CVSC and our partners at a number of events this month!
Legislative Preview Webinar
Date: January 9, 2023 | Time: 12:30pm
Location: Zoom Webinar
To get ready for the new legislative session, join CVSC for our Legislative Preview Webinar. Our team will give you the rundown on what’s in store and answer your questions. Register.
Charleston Green Drinks: Legislative Preview
Date: January 12, 2023 | Time: 6:00pm
Location: Munkle Brewing Co. (1513 Meeting Street Rd, Charleston)
Hosted by CVSC, this event will feature SC State Representative Spencer Wetmore (District 115) and CVSC Staff discussing the upcoming state legislative session, what environmental legislation is expected, and any upcoming issues that affect SC’s environment. Register.
Legislative Kick-Off Reception
Date: January 24, 2023 | Time: 5:30-8:00pm
Location: Bourbon (1214 Main St, Columbia)
Attend our Legislative Kick-Off Reception as we welcome our team, partners, voters, and legislators back to the State House for another year of protecting the South Carolina we love. Register.
Conservation Coalition Senate Briefing
Date: January 25, 2023 | Time: 10:00 am
Location: Gressette Building, Room 105
Join the SC Conservation Coalition for the 2023 Senate Briefing: Conversations with Conservationists, hosted by Senator Chip Campsen and Senator Thomas McElveen, as they discuss environmental and conservation issues critical to our state this legislative year. Register.
The Legislative Hotlist is a weekly update from our Government Relations Director, Meagan Diedolf. Sign up for emails to get the Hotlist delivered directly to your inbox!