Crossover day is finally upon us this week, and you’ve heard me talk about how important that day is. Things in the Statehouse get pretty busy in the days leading up to crossover as legislators work feverishly to get important legislation across that line.
We see bills that have already made it out of one chamber, like the Energy Freedom Act, slow down while the General Assembly focuses on those other issues like plastics. Here’s a rundown of last week and what we are tracking as we hit crossover.
What happened last week:
- Clean Energy: Last Tuesday was a busy one. BIG thanks to all who came out to the Energy Freedom Rally Tuesday! We had over 100 solar workers and clean energy advocates come together with legislators in support of The Energy Freedom Act (H.3659).
The Senate Judiciary Subcommittee had a heavy agenda, and they chose to focus that meeting on Santee Cooper. But they promised to take up the H.3659 a vote at their next meeting.
- Plastics and Home Rule: The Senate LCI Subcommittee met again on Thursday morning to hear more testimony. Unfortunately, a Senate LCI Subcommittee voted 4-3 to send S.394 to the full LCI committee, which is meeting this Thursday morning. In Subcommittee, Senators Sabb, Davis, and Setzler voted against this bad bill. Senator Senn also attended with concerns about the bill but was not able to vote as she doesn’t serve on the subcommittee.
Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey said this bill would not see a major vote in the 2019 session. He suggested the bill needs major work to address the plastics problem as a state, instead of allowing different communities to regulate businesses. Read more about the bill and what Senator Massey had to say in this article, Plastic bag bans survive — for now — as SC lawmakers take more study time in The Post and Courier.
- Melting Plastics: H.4152 would allow plastic pyrolysis – the melting and gasification of “hard to recycle” plastic waste to turn them into petroleum-based fuel for other industrial purposes. This might be a good alternative for plastics disposal if done properly, but there are too many unanswered questions regarding this new and unproven technology. The bill is now on the contested calendar after Representatives requested debate because of remaining questions about the bill and concerns about out of state waste.
The bill is currently written too broadly and could put South Carolina at risk from bad actors, bad industry, and out of state waste. We’ve fought for years to keep South Carolina from becoming a dumping ground. CVSC and our conservation allies are continuing to work to improve the bill and make sure it’s handling the disposal of plastics in an environmentally safe and responsible way.
The week ahead:
- Clean Energy: This coming Wednesday we will hit the 100th day of the year and the target of our 100 Day Clean Energy Campaign. We hope to get a vote on the Energy Freedom Act (H.3659) in full Judiciary Committee on Tuesday – on Day 99! This bill continues to march forward and we are excited about its future.
You’ve sent emails and made phone calls to your Senator about this bill, and they’ve heard you! With the crossover deadline looming, our actions this week will focus on offshore drilling and other issues. Continue following the Legislative Hotlist and our social media and we will let you know when the time is right for a call to action on The Energy Freedom Act.
- Home Rule (Plastic Bag Bans): This is the bill that strips communities of their right to find local solutions to local plastic pollution. Not only does it further erode Home Rule (the ability of local governments to govern for themselves), but it would allow more plastic pollution all across our state – creating unsightly litter, harming wildlife, and putting public health at risk.
Did you know researchers found microplastics in the drinking water at the Statehouse? Read Traces of plastic found in Columbia’s drinking water and rivers; researchers not surprised in The State.
However, we cannot let this additional time take away from our concerns around this bill. Throughout the year and off-session, we need to make sure Senators continue to hear concerns around eliminating home rule and local ability to deal with plastic pollution.
This bad bill is up for a vote in the full LCI Committee this Thursday morning. Please, take action today and urge your Senator to vote NO on this misguided legislation.
- Melting Plastics: H.4152 (Plastic Pyrolysis) is awaiting a vote on the House floor, which may occur any time this week. Our House allies are aware of our concerns regarding this bill. But, with crossover day coming up, we will be keeping a close eye on developments as we expect to see robust floor debate and possibly a vote to move it on to the Senate.