SC Conservation Enhancement Act and ARPA Funding
Last week was jammed packed for our state leaders in Columbia. From continuing their many discussions on where to allocate funds from the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to the usual business of our state agencies presenting their budget requests, it was a full week. Still, your government relations team was able to have several promising conversations with legislators as we continue to advocate for a cleaner and healthier environment.
Offshore Wind: Exciting news! With an 85/21 vote, H.4831 passed out of the House and was sent to the Senate. As our state continues to embrace and welcome a clean energy economy, this bill supports those efforts. H.4831 now sits in the Senate Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee, chaired by Senator Tom Davis. We will continue to support and monitor this legislation and keep you updated as it progresses through the Senate.
South Carolina Conservation Enhancement Act: Last week, Senator Campsen introduced S.1039 with strong bipartisan support. S.1039 restores the Deed Stamp fee to require twenty-five cents of every dollar to go to the conservation bank trust fund, adds additional members to the conservation bank board, and allocates the sales tax from outdoor and recreation equipment to enhance public lands.
CVSC supports this bill as we believe it is another step in our goal to double protected lands. Having been sent to the Senate Finance Committee, we will keep you abreast of its progress.
Funding: State agencies who have a direct impact on the work we do presented their budget requests in front of our state leaders. With an extraordinary amount of dollars available through ARPA funding and state revenue, agencies have the unique opportunity to make transformational changes that will affect South Carolina for generations to come. Here are some highlights:
- The Rural Infrastructure Authority is being allocated between $800-million and $900-million in ARPA funds between House and Senate Proposals (respectively) for water and sewer projects across the state.
- DHEC is asking for $104-million for a new laboratory that will be responsible, in part, for air and water quality analysis.
- DNR is asking for $153-million for land protection and management, water resource planning, and wildlife habitat enhancement.
We support these requests and will do our best to ensure the money is spent equitably. We will continue to update you as these funding efforts move forward.
Clean Drinking Water (PFAS): We cannot thank you enough for reaching out to your Senator about the importance of clean drinking water. Unfortunately, because of a crowded Senate Medical Affairs agenda last week, Senators ran out of time to consider S.219 as planned. We expect this legislation will be taken up again in two weeks. We’ll need to keep this issue top of mind, so please continue to reach out to your Senator and ask them to support clean drinking water.
What to Expect in the Coming Weeks
If you are looking for a fun opportunity to engage with some of your legislators, fellow voters, and the CVSC team, please join us on Wednesday, February 16th at 5:30 pm as we welcome everyone back to the Statehouse for another Year of fighting to protect the South Carolina we love. This is an in-person event, and we encourage you to only attend if you feel comfortable doing so and to take proper COVID precautions. To attend, please register here.
Thank you for continuing to use your voice. We cannot do this work without you!