State House Update: Bans, Stays, and Nuisance Bills
We have another busy week at the State House. Thank you for helping us — whether you’re testifying or contacting your legislators.
Visit our Legislative Action Center for opportunities to contact your legislators.
Anti-Home Rule (or Banning Plastic Bag Bans): If passed, H.3529 will prevent our cities and towns from find local solutions for local problems — taking away what is referred to as “Home Rule” and what has been a cornerstone of our governmental structure in South Carolina.
Despite being a “home rule” state, the plastic bag companies are fighting to take away our right to make decisions about plastic use in our communities and the control of recycling waste.
We support coastal municipalities, like Isle of Palms and Folly Beach, that have taken the lead on this issue to reduce plastic waste on our beaches. Their commitment will protect marine life, birds, and the natural beauty we expect to see along our coast.
For more information, please read this media coverage.
- House vote status: After a vote was delayed last week, we expect to see this bill head to the House floor for a vote this week. Please reach out to your Representative and urge them to vote against this Anti-Home Rule Bill. CVSC will score a vote for this bill as anti-conservation.
Saving the Automatic Stay: If passed, S.105 and H.3565 will weaken citizens’ ability to successfully challenge the government when a citizen believes a permit is incorrectly issued (before it’s finalized). These bills neuter what is known as the Automatic Stay – a pause button that prevents harm from occurring while the permit challenge is considered. The “stay” allows the court to assess the facts and law in order to determine whether the permit was properly granted. The “stay” avoids irreparable harm to an affected party or place before that harm occurs.
This tool may be used by a wide range of entities – conservation groups, wastewater utilities, hospitals, restaurants, and any other entity that must obtain, or may be affected by, a DHEC permit for operation.
The stakes are high in permit challenges, for both an applicant and a challenger. Allowing a permitted activity to begin with a faulty permit or requiring citizens to post high bonds would significantly harm citizens’ ability to successfully challenge the government and unnecessarily increase costs of a project.
Read more here.
- Senate Status: S.105 was debated in the Senate Judiciary Committee last week with no action taken. We will let you know when another meeting is scheduled. No more testimony will be heard. Please contact your Senator and ask them to oppose this bill.
- House Status: H.3565 passed out of the House Judiciary Subcommittee last week. Please thank Representatives Bernstein and King for voting in opposition. Also, thank you to those of you that came to testify and show your opposition to the bill. The bill will be debated and voted on by the House Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, February 14, 2017 at 2:30 pm, or 1.5 hours upon adjournment of the House, whichever is later, in Room 516 of the Blatt Building (no testimony will be heard). Please also contact your Representative and ask them to oppose this bill.
Reauthorization of the Conservation Bank: The Conservation Bank was created 14 Years ago to safeguard our drinking water, preserve our history and culture, and protect our precious natural resources. It’s the only statewide source of public funding available for willing landowners and their land trust partners to voluntarily conserve important SC lands, and it will shut down if not reauthorized by June of 2018.
S.219 reauthorizes the Conservation Bank for 10 Years and maintains reduced funding for the Bank even in lean budget Years (previously, the Bank was cut to $0 in lean budget Years).
- Senate Status: S.219 will get a Senate Finance Subcommittee hearing on Tuesday, Feb. 14th at 11:00 in Room 308 of the Gressette Building.
Immunity from Nuisance Suits: S.323 and H.3653 give industry a blanket immunity from legitimate nuisance complaints – noise, odors, etc. If the ability to hold industries accountable for these and other nuisances is taken away, there will be no deterrent for bad actors and bad neighbors. Existing nuisance laws and court precedent have already established a process for addressing disputes that arise between industries and their neighbors. The current system is not broken and is not being abused – this bill is yet another example of a solution seeking a problem.
- Senate Status: S.323 will get a Senate LCI Subcommittee hearing on Wednesday, Feb. 15th at 9:30 am in Room 307 of the Gressette Building.
Please Register for the Conservation Lobby Day and Oyster Roast on March 21, 2017