Home » Legislative Hotlist: January 31, 2023

Legislative Hotlist: January 31, 2023

What. A. Week. Let’s start with a huge thank you to everyone who attended our Legislative Kickoff Reception at Bourbon last Tuesday. My New York Smash was a revelation, and I enjoyed connecting with legislators and conservationists from around the state! 

We also had great attendance for our annual Conversations with Conservationists Senate Briefing with our partners in the SC Conservation Coalition! Hosted by Senators Campsen and McElveen, fellow Senators got to hear about how to ease energy burdens, support a strong environmental permitting agency, and how the Conservation Bank is protecting lands across the state. Despite (or because of!) these events, the General Assembly was busy. Let’s dive in:

Let’s Talk Turkey: The Ways and Means Committee continued its hard work developing the State’s budget last week. Subcommittees met throughout the week to discuss various agency requests. In its hearing, the Conservation Bank highlighted that over the last year, it protected almost 10,000 acres of land and awarded over $10 million in grants. Of that, $8.1 million went to full public access projects, including expanding five state parks and protecting two Revolutionary War battlefields. To continue that wonderful work, they requested an additional $25 million for grants in the next fiscal year.

DNR also highlighted its work conserving land and requested $63 million for land protection. CVSC is thrilled to support these agencies and this important work.

And finally, DHEC focused its $26 million budget request on resources for attracting and keeping qualified staff, including managing environmental programs. 

More on Land Conservation: Last week, Representative Lowe (along with a host of cosponsors) dropped H.3786, the Conservation Enhancement Act. This bill is the companion to S.280 filed by Senators Campsen and Davis. It allocates a portion of Deed recording fees to the Conservation Bank. This provides a guaranteed funding stream and ties land conservation directly to development. These bills have broad bipartisan support as well as CVSC support.

Electric Vehicle Charging: In his State of the State Address last week, the Governor highlighted the insane growth in electric vehicle and battery manufacturing and recycling in the state. It is important that if we are going to attract these sorts of businesses, we have to also support their product! To that end, Representative Brandon Newton has introduced H.3824 with bipartisan co-sponsors to extend an income tax credit to individuals or businesses that install an electric vehicle charging station. This credit is already extended to those that have natural gas or petroleum stations so it makes sense to bring electric charging into the fold. We would love this bill to zip through the legislative process, so please encourage your legislator to cosponsor the bill now (or thank them if they’ve already signed on)!

Permit Extensions are Back… Last week, I talked about H.3209, which retroactively extended permits issued by DHEC, risking significant environmental damage in cases where environmental conditions materially change. There were significant issues with the bill, but thanks to Representative Spencer Wetmore and other members of the Judiciary Committee, the bill’s scope has been narrowed significantly to DHEC and Ocean of Coastal Resource Management (OCRM) permits already in existence in 2020. It is on the House’s calendar for second reading this week. While we still think this language is unnecessary, we can support the bill with these amendments.

Finally, I hope you’ll also save the date for the SC Conservation Coalition Lobby Day and Oyster Roast on April 5, 2023. That’s a wrap for now!

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!

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