Six more days. That’s the common refrain in the State House lobby these days.
We have six more legislative days until Sine Die — when they will officially end the legislative session at 5 pm on May 13th. Before they adjourn for the year, they will pass a sine die resolution that outlines the things they can take up between May – January.
The Sine Die Resolution is usually a to-do list of just a few “clean up” items, mainly focused on finishing budget deliberations and tweaks. But, this year, the legislature will include work on an updated budget because of new revenue and Federal stimulus dollars in the Sine Die Resolution — returning off and on from the latter half of May to July to update the budget. They’ll also work this summer and fall on redistricting, which will have huge implications for politics and representation in the Palmetto State.
Your CVSC Lobby Team has worked hard this year, so we’re all looking forward to some calmer days ahead. We’ll continue to keep you informed as things wind down.
What Happened Last Week
Clean Energy - In a major victory for solar, the South Carolina Public Service Commission rejected Dominion’s anti-solar net metering proposal! This ruling not only maintains the viability of rooftop solar in Dominion SC territory, but also demonstrates that the Commission is properly regulating utilities after years of serving as a ‘rubber-stamp’ (Read more in this article in The State).
Electric Vehicles – S.304, the bill that will improve electric vehicle charging station options and form a study committee, passed out of the House this week. Since the House amended the bill, it’ll be sent back to the Senate for them to review the changes and determine the next steps for the bill’s passage.
Pyrolysis – Last week, S.525 passed out of the House Ag and Natural Resources Committee and hit the House floor with no changes from the Senate version. On Thursday, Representatives placed it on the contested calendar, setting it up for floor debate this week.
Waste Tire Facilities - H.3222, the bill addressing the problem of stockpiled tire waste, passed out of the Medical Affairs Committee last week and will be up for debate on the Senate floor this week.
DHEC Reform - The Medical Affairs Select Subcommittee that’s working on DHEC Reform met last week on S.2 (you can read the amendment that replaces the original bill language here) – a bill that will split apart the Department of Health and Environmental Control and create an Environmental Permitting Agency. Last week, the subcommittee heard testimony from agencies impacted, including DHEC and DNR. They ultimately took no action last week.
The Committee has updated their website with letters and testimony information that they’ve received thus far.
The Senate debated the budget on the floor last week. While there was contentious debate on some issues, funding for environmental issues and state agency work remained in the budget.
What to Expect This Week
Solar Property Tax - Tomorrow morning, H.3354 will be taken up in a Senate Finance Subcommittee at 9 am and if passed out will come up in full committee at 3 pm. You may remember, this bill helps keep solar affordable for all South Carolinians by clarifying property tax treatment for owned and leased panels. Note: H.3354 overwhelmingly passed out of the House with a bipartisan vote of 107-4. We will keep you abreast of how this bill progresses through the Senate the remainder of this legislative year.
Green Space Sales Tax - In the same subcommittee and possible full committee tomorrow in Senate Finance, Senators will take up S.152, filed by Senator Davis, to provide coastal counties with another monetary tool for land protection.
DHEC Reform – The Medical Affairs Select Subcommittee that’s working on S.2 will meet again this week. The rescheduled meeting is Wednesday at 9:30 am. They will hear from three more agencies impacted by the legislation, including the Dept. of Agriculture.
We are interested to see how and if this bill moves out of subcommittee and how they’re going to handle further testimony, as it has already been tentatively scheduled to be taken up in full committee on Thursday, May 6th at 9:30 am. We will keep you updated on S.2 as it continues to progress through the Senate. Tune into these meetings and follow the agenda updates here.
Pyrolysis - We expect Representatives will debate S.525 this week on the House floor. We will work with Representatives on amendments to address shortcomings of the bill that, if unaddressed, would increase the financial and environmental risks to South Carolinians from an unproven industry.
The financial assurance requirements in the bill expire after 3 years, giving an incentive to a potential bad-actor to simply “wait it out” and avoid protecting SC taxpayers. We support changing the financial assurance provision to require a facility to be constructed and have 5 annual inspections with a clear compliance history before these provisions sunset. Or, at minimum, these should be expanded to a 5-year sunset.
We also support amending the bill to ensure that the community in which a pyrolysis facility is proposed is provided adequate information about the existing and proposed sources of pollution, the combined impact the facilities have on the environment and public health, and the risks posed by adding another potential source of pollution. Then, as part of a robust public engagement process, the community can provide feedback as to if it wants a new facility to locate there. The lobby team will be working to improve this bill as much as we can on the House floor.
Thank you again for your support as we approach the end of the 2021 legislative year.