State House Update
The Senate remains in an intense debate about fixing our roads this week as the House Ways and Means Committee reviews the budget. We look forward to seeing good budget decisions for the Conservation Bank and state agency funding. We’ll let you know if and when action is needed.
Coal Ash Disposal: The Senate unanimously passed out H.4857 last week. The House should confer this week and we may see it signed into law this week!
Why is this a big deal? Coal ash is a dangerous waste product of coal-fired power plants containing toxic arsenic and lead that can cause breathing problems and contaminate groundwater, lakes, and streams— threatening the health of our families and the environment. Right now, an out of state waste company is trying to dump tons of coal ash in a Pickens County landfill intended for construction waste like stumps and old cement.
In a State article, Senator Larry Martin spoke to why the bills must pass: “‘It’s a no-brainer for any county that, if it’s going to be done, it’s done right.’’ Martin, who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee, also said the issue “has unified people on the left, on the right and everywhere in between. We don’t want it.”
Shoreline Management: We probably won’t see a vote to restore the permanent baseline language to S.139 from DHEC’s Blue Ribbon Committee (BRC) on Shoreline Management’s recommendations until after the Senate roads bill debate. We thank Senator Cleary for pushing for a permanent baseline in keeping with the BRC’s recommendations. We need to make sure our Senators vote for conservation. Please email your Senator about S.139 today.
Conservation Bank: We have a super-majority of the House signed on to Rep. Bingham’s Conservation Bank bill (H.4945) which was introduced last week. Please thank your Representative for adding their name to it. The bill mirrors Senator Campsen’s bill in the Senate (S.519). It will eliminate the sunset, improve the death clause, and increase funding by .05 cents (as recommended by the Wetlands Task Force). We also appreciate that the DNR Board supports both the Campsen and Bingham bills.
Dam Safety: We’re closely following DHEC’s dam safety reform bill (H.4565) in the House Ag committee. Our friendly experts testified last week and we hope to see the subcommittee produce a good bill soon.
Lake Conestee: After about two Years of pursuing recognition of Lake Conestee Nature Park as a “Wildlife Sanctuary” in state statutes (like Beidler Forest and numerous other properties around the state) our friends at the Conestee Foundation have H.4743, introduced by Representatives Eric Bedingfield and Chandra Dillard. Thanks to your support and letters to the subcommittee, the bill passed out of subcommittee and is headed to the full House Ag committee for a vote this week. This is long overdue and we’re happy to see the Park get this recognition.
Plastic Bags: Legislators in the House recently introduced legislation (H.4793) to “ban” plastic bag bans. Some municipalities, including Isle of Palms, have already taken steps to reduce plastic waste on our beaches. This bill targets local governments, despite SC being a “home rule” state, attempting to prevent towns and cities from enacting their own local waste-reduction solutions, including banning plastic bag bans. So far, our friends are helping us keep this at bay. Please take action with our partners at the Coastal Conservation League here. Also, check out this Post & Courier editorial.
Please join us on March 8th for our Conservation Lobby Day and Oyster Roast. We’ll have a full day of advocacy at the State House followed by a reception and oyster roast at 701 Whaley St. If you’d like to sponsor the oyster roast, please email me at [email protected]. Please RSVP.