With only six weeks remaining in the first year of the 2021-2022 two-year legislative session, our state leaders still have a lot of legislation to address. With the Senate beginning to take up their version of the 2021-2022 fiscal year budget, along with debating and passing legislation before crossover (April 10th), the House returns this week after a well-deserved week off to a full calendar of legislation to discuss and hopefully send over to the Senate chamber before April 10th.
From tackling Santee Cooper, plastic pellets, and electronic waste to DHEC reform, last week was a full week. And, this week looks to be just as busy.
After many weeks of deliberations, last Tuesday, members of the Senate Judiciary finally met in full committee to discuss the future of our state’s public utility. However, before voting on S.464, the first item of discussion was an amendment to the bill that pushed for accountability oversight, clean energy commitments, and a just transition from coal. As noted in last week’s legislative update, this amendment came from the efforts of CVSC and conservation coalition partners from around the state to strike a compromise.
Thankfully, the amendment passed and further discussion was pursued on the entire bill. After another hour of deliberations, S.464 finally passed out of full committee. We expect to see this bill hotly debated on the Senate floor this week as they work to make it out of the Senate before the crossover deadline. We will continue to work hard to ensure that this utility is on track for a better, brighter future whether it’s reformed or sold.
Last Wednesday, the full Senate Medical Affairs committee was scheduled to take up S.596 – a bill sponsored by Senator Senn that establishes regulations for plastic pellets (or nurdles) to protect our coastal waterways from plastic pollution. Unfortunately, they ran out of time in the committee meeting to take up this legislation. We’re hopeful Senators will continue pushing this legislation moving forward.
As always, we will keep you updated as this legislation progresses. Please encourage your Senator to support and cosponsor this legislation.
S.2 – a bill that would break apart the Department of Health and Environmental Control – continued to be a very hot topic in Columbia last week with a short subcommittee hearing on Tuesday. In that subcommittee, Senators proposed a new amendment that will replace the language in the bill. It proposes to create a new Cabinet-level agency called Dept. of Environmental Services, keeping environmental permitting together. This is an improvement from the original bill (note that the legislation online does not show the amendment language yet). Senators have asked for feedback on the new amendment at a subcommittee meeting this week (currently planned for Wednesday 30 minutes after adjournment). You can tune in here.
CVSC is working with our conservation partners to review the language, provide comments on how to improve the bill further, and provide amendments. If you’d like to review the amendment, please respond to this email.
As quoted in an article in The State Newspaper, I shared that “I wish we had been invited to the table. This kind of intense reform needs to have a dynamic stakeholder process.’’ Thankfully, Senators are asking for feedback and will give us an opportunity to share our thoughts and comments soon.
We expect discussions on S.2 will continue in a Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee throughout this Spring. We will be actively engaging in this legislative discussion and will keep you posted on how you can participate.
A bill that extends the sunset of electronic waste regulations (Reg. 61-124), H.4035 passed out of a Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Subcommittee with our support. And, as we continue to work with stakeholders to improve an attainable path toward the management and disposal of electronic waste in the state, the sunset of the legislation will be extended two years.
Solar Property Tax Clarification
Introduced by Representative Ballentine, H.3354 – a bill that clarifies that solar panels should not be part of property tax assessments – will be taken up in the House this week.
CVSC supports H.3354, as we believe that it expands solar access by making it more affordable to lower-income households and supports our efforts of clean energy usage. The legislation would also protect existing solar customers from future property tax increases.
This list should be enough to keep us busy this week as the countdown to the end of the legislative session begins. Thank you for taking action and supporting your CVSC team at the State House.