Legislative Hotlist: May 11, 2023
It’s Sine die… sort of! Before I jump into the details, let me start by thanking you for your help. Every time one of you contacts your representative or senator, you move the needle a notch in our favor. So, thank you from the bottom of my heart; when you show your support, it makes my job easier! Now, let’s dive in:
What is Sine die, anyway? Sine die is the day that the legislature officially ends the legislative session. Because this is the first year of a two-year session, we are really seeing more of a pause. However, we’re currently in a unique situation because the General Assembly has not adopted a Sine die resolution.
Usually, the Sine die resolution specifically outlines what the General Assembly can come back into session for during the summer and fall. This limit on their scope of work brings me comfort because I know what to expect. Imagine my horror at learning that without a Sine die resolution, the Governor can call the General Assembly back to Columbia with no limit on what they can take up.
So, while we celebrate Sine die today, they’ll return next week to continue their work.
Reasons to Celebrate: As usual, the General Assembly eats its Wheaties during the last few weeks of session, so we managed to pass several bills through one of the Chambers this week!
- The Alternative Fuels Tax Credit (H.3824) would help incentivize taxpayers to install electric vehicle charging infrastructure by extending an income tax credit for a portion of the installation cost. The bill has successfully passed through the House with a vote of 92-16. What’s next? The bill heads to the Senate Finance Committee!
- The Trails Tax Credit bill (H.3121) would provide an income tax credit to a property owner who adds a voluntary, perpetual trail easement to their property and provides the qualifying criteria. This incentive will expand access to our State’s beautiful trail system so more people can enjoy the beauty of the outdoors! The bill passed the House unanimously by a vote of 113-0! What’s next? Senate Finance!
- The Solar Property Tax Exemption (H.3948) would provide a property tax exemption for solar panels and the required equipment. The bill passed the House by a vote of 97-11! It will also head to the Senate Finance Committee.
- The Workforce Housing bill (S.284) would allow portions of hospitality and accommodations taxes to be used to develop workforce housing. The bill includes a study CVSC will assist in addressing issues with land development. The bill passed the House with amendments by a vote of 80-29. The Senate concurred in the House amendments and the bill now heads to the Governor’s desk!
Budget V.2: The House took a second swing at the budget this week, and we had a little more money to spend. The appropriations for agencies look the same, but I am really excited to talk about two additional appropriations we have been looking for!
- Remember the Offshore Wind Industries bill from last session? It needed a proviso to help the Department of Commerce to create a roadmap for attracting offshore wind energy supply chain industries to the state. Representative Jason Elliot worked hard to get $250,000 appropriated for that purpose!
- Representative Gilda Cobb-Hunter won the day with an appropriation to the WeGOJA Foundation for $300,000 to study the creation of a Rosenwald School State Park System. This money can be used to go throughout the state to assess the condition of Rosenwald Schools across the state to see which ones would be appropriate for this network of parks.
What happens next? We have to ensure that these provisos survive the conference committee!
DHEC Reform Rushed to the Governor’s Desk: The General Assembly is ready to put the issue of DHEC Reform to bed. After S.399 passed out of the Senate last week, the House had to get the bill through committee toot sweet. On Tuesday, the full Ways and Means committee met and adopted a strike-and-insert amendment that replaced the Senate’s version of the bill with the House language (H.4124).
Both chambers insisted on their versions of the bill, so S.399 went to a conference committee where the conferees quickly decided to adopt the Senate’s version of the bill. I am pleased to say that the automatic stay compromise that I have been talking about for months, no years, has made it into the final version of the bill. I have to thank our partners and conservation champs in both chambers for the work they’ve done to defend what would have been a significant hit to the Department’s ability to protect the environment.
S.399 now heads to the Governor’s desk for a signature.
A Last Minute Intro: Y’all, Senator Talley dropped a doozy last week—S.779, the Energy Independence and Risk Reduction Act (EIRRA), and it is an excellent bill that would promote clean energy while lowering costs and risks for SC utility customers. The EIRRA builds on the legacy of the bipartisan 2019 SC Energy Freedom Act by advancing a free-market approach to state energy policy focusing on increasing competition within SC’s monopoly utility system, customer choice, reliability, and clean energy access. Applying this philosophy to the major transitions ahead for SC’s energy sector, this legislation proactively manages the transition away from coal generation while protecting workers and local communities, reducing ratepayer costs, and ensuring new replacement generation lowers cost and enhances reliability for all South Carolinians. There’s a lot more that’s baked into this package, and we are excited to share more with you on this bill soon, and I know I can’t wait to work on it.
That’s all 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!