Y’all, last week was bananas. I’m talking about shenanigans, tornados, thousands of amendments, and just a little chaos. For CVSC purposes, it was a reasonably successful week, but it didn’t always look that way. Let’s jump in.
Crossover Shenanigans, Part 3: The second year of a two-year session is always wild. Add in that it is an election year AND crossover week and you’ve got a high-stress situation.
We at CVSC had a few bills to watch with differing goals, but on Tuesday it looked like everything was on hold because the House Republicans were set on passing some socially conservative legislative priorities. I’m highlighting this because it was a masterclass in how to utilize The Nuclear Option in the House.
The House made the rare move of putting one of these bills on special order, which meant that this bill had to be debated until a final vote was cast. The fate of every bill subject to the crossover deadline was suddenly under threat because there were ONE THOUSAND AMENDMENTS placed on the desk before the body could invoke cloture (i.e. shorten the debate and stop more amendments from being added). We were in for about 100 hours of debate.
The House went off like a herd of turtles. Motions were made and rulings were challenged at every opportunity to further delay the vote. Then things got even crazier as a tornado warning forced the Sergeant at Arms to evacuate the House down to the basement.
It looked like we were going to be watching this play out for days, but an agreement was struck and a vote was cast. House rules do not allow for a filibuster, but this was an interesting work-around that I think you are going to see more and more often. Now back to our regularly scheduled programming!
Waste: CVSC was watching two bills on the calendar. First was Electronic Waste (H.4775). This bill reauthorizes legislation that addresses how electronic waste (mainly computers and tvs) is recycled. CVSC supports this bill and we are glad to report that it made the crossover deadline and is now in the Senate.
Second was the Hazardous Waste bill (H.4999) which amends our state’s Hazardous Waste Management Act to define new terms and clarify site-specific remediation standards for instances where there has been a hazardous waste spill. Though CVSC has not taken a position on this bill, we had some concerns that we raised to the committee. This bill was also passed, though an amendment was adopted to give DHEC more oversight authority over the process. It also now moves over to the Senate.
An Interesting Debate on Securitization: CVSC has been following a bill, S.1077, which would allow utilities to securitize costs related to storm damage. If that is Greek to you, you aren’t alone – this is an extremely complex topic. At its most basic level, securitization is a refinancing mechanism that should result in lower costs for ratepayers. What was interesting was that Senator Harpootlian introduced two amendments on the Senate floor that would allow utilities to securitize the cost for coal ash clean-up and the early retirement of uneconomic coal plants. Senators seemed generally in favor of those ideas, but the amendments were withdrawn.
On the House side, Representative Wetmore has introduced a bill, H.5162, that includes storm securitization as well as coal plant retirement, which is a good thing. We’ll continue to watch this as it moves through the process, although it did not make the crossover deadline.
The Week Ahead: This week is likely to be much calmer as the House takes its second furlough. The Senate remains in session, however, and the Finance committee will begin its full-committee budget deliberations. We’ll be watching to ensure our favorite House appropriations remain in place.
Also, expect the Offshore Wind Industries, H.4831, bill to come up for second reading on the Senate floor. The bill directs the Department of Commerce to create a roadmap for attracting offshore wind energy supply chain industries to the state. CVSC supports this legislation as it facilitates the growth of South Carolina’s clean energy economy and may open the door for more wind energy opportunities beyond the supply chain. We support this bill and encourage you to reach out to your Senator to request their support!
Conservation Coalition Lobby Day & Oyster Roast: Join Conservation Voters and the SC Conservation Coalition for a fun day of advocating and celebrating conservation on April 26th. Click here to learn more and sign up!
Thank you for all you do!