Santee Cooper, Plastic Pellets, and DHEC Reform – Oh My!!
We have seven more weeks until the Legislature gavels to a close on the first Year of its two-Year session. Last week, the House passed their version of the state budget for fiscal Year 2021-2022. After three days of debate, H.4100 was sent to the Senate, where it now sits in the Senate Finance Committee.
While it was a cautious and conservative budget, conservation-oriented agencies like the Conservation Bank, DHEC, and DNR were granted their requests. Next up, we’ll be monitoring the budget process in the Senate.
Last week, members of the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee pushed to find a compromise among parties with interests in the fate of Santee Cooper. CVSC and our conservation partners have been pushing for accountability, oversight, clean energy commitments, and a just transition from coal – all of which look to be addressed with consensus language that the Senate Judiciary Subcommittee will consider today at 10 am in preparation for a full Judiciary Committee this afternoon upon adjournment.
We are grateful for the hard work of Senators on the subcommittee, particularly Senator Harpootlian from Columbia, who pushed hard to ensure clean energy, just transitions, and accountability were included in any reform package.
Last Wednesday, a subcommittee of the Senate Medical Affairs Committee took 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.
S.596 passed out of subcommittee and will be taken up in the Medical Affairs Committee this Wednesday if you’d like to tune in.
We will keep you updated as this legislation moves in the Senate. In the meantime, please encourage your Senator to support and cosponsor this legislation.
In December, Senator Peeler introduced S.2 – a bill that would break apart the Department of Health and Environmental Control and move the functions of the agency to other state agencies.
Senator Peeler was quoted in a December article in The State as saying, “A big chunk would go to the Department of Agriculture under a new environmental division. Among those programs going to agriculture would be hazardous waste management, mining, stormwater management, low-level radioactive waste and groundwater.”
CVSC remains opposed to this legislation. We believe that breaking apart environmental permitting and spreading it among different state agencies is a bad idea and could potentially be a public health disaster. Not to mention, any reform of the agency should be thoughtful and include a robust stakeholder process.
Discussions on S.2 will be taken up in a Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee today at 10 am. This subcommittee plans to meet many times this Spring and will be posting more information about how people can testify. We’ll be actively engaging in this legislative discussion and will keep you posted.
Introduced by Representative Hiott, H.4035 is a bill that extends the sunset of electronic waste regulations (Reg. 61-124). The bill extends the sunset of the legislation two Years while stakeholders work to improve the management and disposal of electronic waste moving forward.
H.4035 passed out of the House and now sits in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
Action Packed Weeks Ahead
The House is out this week on their furlough, taking a bit of a break. The Senate will take this Thursday off after two busy days in Columbia.
Everyone will return on Tuesday, April 6th to take up as much legislation as they can before crossover on April 10th. If legislation does not pass out of one chamber or the other before April 10th, it will be difficult to pass until the legislative Year in 2022.
And that’s a wrap. As legislation moves quickly over the next seven weeks, we’ll keep you informed on how you can help us advocate for the South Carolina we all love.