Legislative Update
March 19, 1996
Vol. 13, No. 10

South Carolina House of Representatives
David H. Wilkins, Speaker of the House

Room 309, Blatt Building, P.O. Box 11867, Columbia, S.C. 29211, (803) 734-3230

========================= L P I T S

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The House sustained Governor David Beasley's veto of S. 654, which the Governor called "special legislation" designed to circumvent a general law. The bill would have authorized a referendum in the Weotuma Neck area of Georgetown County to determine whether Sunday liquor by the drink sales should be allowed, affecting only part of a county. A two-thirds vote of each house was needed to overturn the veto. The Senate earlier voted to overturn the veto.

Two Senate bills received third reading in the House last week and were enrolled for ratification. S. 599 authorizes the board of the South Carolina Protection and Advocacy System for the Handicapped, Inc. to change its corporate name in the same manner as any other nonprofit corporation. The bill also authorizes the transfer of powers and duties to the successor corporation. S. 1203 provides for a monument at the Walterboro Airfield to honor the accomplishments of the Tuskegee Airmen.

Representatives also gave third reading to three House-sponsored bills and sent them to the Senate for consideration. H. 3230 prohibits an election official from participating in any political campaign, either by endorsement or financial contribution. An official is also prohibited from serving as a poll watcher or manager. H. 3326 establishes a tax-free individual medical savings account. Funds may be deposited into a trust for payment of medical, dental, or long-term care expenses. The proposal would reduce state income tax revenue by about $24,000 per year beginning in fiscal year 1997-98. H. 4735 approves regulations of the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulations relating to combative sports.


Senators gave third reading to H. 3535 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The measure provides that jurisdiction may be transferred from the family court when a juvenile at least fourteen years old commits an offense which if committed by an adult would invoke a sentence of ten years or more. Jurisdiction also could be transferred if the juvenile has two prior convictions in circuit court for similar offenses.

Three other House-sponsored measures received third reading in the Senate last week, but were amended and returned to the House for concurrence. H. 3271 increases penalties for intimidating court officials, jurors, or witnesses. Penalties would include a ten thousand dollar ($10,000) fine and up to ten years in prison rather than the current two thousand dollars ($2,000) fine and not more than five years imprisonment. H. 3300 establishes a sex offender registry, and requires public notification of convicted sex offenders residing in a community. H. 3901 originally concerned the sale of real property to collect delinquent taxes. As it emerged from the Senate, the bill addresses local government tax caps and additional property tax relief measures as well. It calls for a voter referendum to determine whether local governments should have a supermajority two-thirds vote to raise taxes and fees beyond the inflation rate. That provision also would apply to the General Assembly. The bill includes another voter referendum to determine whether to raise sales tax by an additional penny in order to eliminate property tax on real estate and vehicles altogether. Income tax paid by senior citizens would be phased out, and that paid by small businesses would be reduced. The measure includes an income tax credit for those earning less than $15,000 per year. Also, the depreciation rate for manufacturers would be lowered to that of other businesses.

Several Senate bills received third reading and were sent to the House for consideration. S. 913 is a technical revision updating the reference date where the state annually adopts Internal Revenue Codes. S. 926 provides that the identity or picture of a juvenile offender may be made public in cases of a violent crime, car theft, drug trafficking, or where a weapon is involved. S. 1016 deletes the requirement that a warning must be given within the preceding six months before a person could be arrested for trespassing. S. 1028 abolishes a municipal election commission in cases where the county election commission has assumed total responsibility for municipal elections. S. 1032 provides that motor oil, new tires, lead-acid batteries, and white goods would be exempt from sales tax, costing the state an estimated $400,000 annually in lost revenue. S. 1072 provides that no property taxes would be paid by nonprofit housing corporations providing rental or cooperative housing for elderly, handicapped, or low to moderate income families. This measure affects fifteen facilities in this state, and shifts about $14,000 of local property taxes to other taxpayers. S. 1081 authorizes withholding of state funds to satisfy delinquencies of an entity which participants in the state health or dental plans. S. 1082 provides an appellate procedure for state health and dental claims. S. 1148 provides that the Budget and Control Board is not liable for uncovered or unfunded risks by an agency or local government which is delinquent on premium payments, and may cancel their liability insurance. S. 1218 is a joint resolution approving Commission on Higher Education regulations determining tuition rates and fees. These regulations will clarify application of the residency statutes which is essential to fee determination, admission regulation, and other relevant policies.

The Senate gave second reading to two bills. S. 1195 defines the mission of higher education in the state, and provides the Commission on Higher Education with regulatory authority. It allows the Commission to close institutions which do not meet standards and eliminate programs where duplication is unnecessary. The measure also establishes critical success factors for academic quality, and prescribes performance indicators to measure these success factors. In addition, it revises the way budgets of higher education institutions are determined, based in part on achievement of standards. H. 3897, concerning fishing, repeals laws requiring gigging licenses in game zone 11.

Three bills were recommitted to committees last week. S. 320, which limits local transfer fees on property, was sent back to the Judiciary Committee. A provision banning these fees was included in the senate amendment to H. 3901, which received third reading last week. H. 3651, which imposed spending limits on local governments, was recommitted to the Finance Committee in light of the passage of H. 3901. H. 4138 calls for a voter referendum to determine whether to raise sales tax by a penny in order to eliminate all property taxes. The bill was recommitted to the Finance Committee and recalled the next day.

Senators set S. 1142 for special order. This auto insurance bill reforms recoupment fees by creating an assigned risk plan instead. It establishes an uninsured motorist fund, and directs one dollar of each uninsured motorist premium to the uninsured enforcement fund.



The full Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environmental Affairs committee did not meet last week. However, the Agriculture Subcommittee approved a State Crop Pest Commission regulation which designates the tropical soda apple as a noctious weed which should be eradicated in the state. Also, the Environmental Affairs II Subcommittee approved H. 4608, This measure authorizes a joint agency to contract with another joint agency in order to provide collection, transfer, and/or disposal of solid waste. The bill provides that governing bodies must contract with the joint agencies for these services. Subcommittee members also reported favorably on a Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) regulation which amends criteria for spending money from the State Underground Petroleum Environmental Response Bank (SUPERB) Fund. In addition, the regulation provides for the ranking for cleanup of these underground tanks according to site specifications.


The Primary and Secondary Education Subcommittee made minor revisions to H. 3388, "The South Carolina Charter Schools Act of 1996." Among other things, the subcommittee clarified that in the event that a teacher takes a leave of absence from a position to teach in a charter school created within the district, it is the district's option to reemploy that teacher if he opts to leave the charter school and attempts to return to another position within the district. The subcommittee also specified that a charter school would be considered part of a school district for district reporting requirements, ensuring that a charter school's grades and other data would be included in the district's profile. In addition, the subcommittee considered H. 3910 which would require a student to maintain at least a "C" average in order to participate in interscholastic activities. Testimony was heard on H. 4597, "The South Carolina School Accountability Act of 1996," which requires, among other things: (1) The State Board of Education to repeal all regulations pertaining to issues which might be better decided by local school board policies; (2) the setting of benchmarks for use in rating the success of public schools and determining certain rewards or corrective actions to prompt improvement; (3) a joint committee review of and proposed revision for the Education Finance Act Foundation Program; and (4) distribution of certain Education Improvement Act monies to districts as innovation funds.

The Postsecondary Education Subcommittee continued to hear testimony on H. 4637, the Higher Education Quality and Accountability Act which enhances the ability of the Commission on Higher Education to coordinate and reduce duplication in programs offered by the state's institutions of higher learning. Levels of funding for these institutions would be conditional upon meeting certain critical success factors and performance indicators.

The Intermodal Transportation and Public Works Committee gave favorable reports to two bills. H. 3987 changes the fee structure for farm vehicle licenses so that it is based on gross vehicle weight rather than the vehicle's empty weight, thereby providing a fee structure for farm vehicles which is more in keeping with fees on other trucks. H. 4586 calls for the following revisions in the Department of Transportation: (1) a new emphasis on private-public partnerships and outsourcing of building projects (2) the elimination of state employee grievance rights for certain Department of Transportation employees so that more of the work force might serve at the will of the Director, and (3) the creation of an internal grievance procedure to cover those employees exempted from state grievance rights. The bill also requires a future appointee to the position of Division Deputy for Construction, Engineering, and Planning to be a professional engineer. H. 4586 is similar to the committee bill H. 4474 which failed to win approval on the House floor, but H. 4586 converts a narrower class of Department employees to "at will" status.


The Judiciary Committee reported favorably on three bills last week. H. 3194 provides that any registered voter may use an absentee ballot without having to give a reason why this is necessary. Currently there are fifteen approved reasons for needing to vote by absentee ballot. The measure also provides that members of the Armed Forces or Merchant Marines, and their family members, may use Standard Form 76 or its equivalent in place of an absentee ballot. H. 4387 establishes absolute immunity from civil lawsuit for a former employer providing a work reference, as long as he does not knowingly provide false information. The measure also provides that a former employee receive a copy of any written evaluation. S. 421 provides that a referendum to create a community recreation special tax district may be held either during the general election or a special election as determined by the county council. The measure also addresses appointment of commissioners by the county council. An amendment to the bill requires that at least fifteen per cent of qualified voters petition to join a community recreation special tax district before the area could be included. Also, the area must be contiguous to existing boundaries.


Last week, the full Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee gave favorable reports to six bills: H. 4396, as amended, which requires insurers of pregnant women to cover a hospital stay of two days following a vaginal delivery or three days following a caesarian section; H. 4585, as amended, requiring health insurers who cover prescription drugs to provide coverage upon for medically promising "off label" uses of FDA-approved drugs in treating types of cancers falling outside of FDA specifications; S. 507, as amended, providing for the licensing of private detective businesses and authorizing a retired commissioned law enforcement officer to carry a concealed pistol if employed as a private investigator or detective; H. 4574 (adopted as committee bill H. 4755) extending the director of the Department of Insurance more control over the assigned risk plan for workers' compensation insurance, requiring his approval before the plan may be utilized and allowing him to set up a competitive bidding process for servicing carriers of the assigned risk pool; H. 4660 which extends the current exemption from taxes on insurance premiums to include workers' compensation insurance premiums provided by companies which insure only churches; and, H. 4542 which adds county, city, and regional housing authorities to the list of claimant agencies which can collect debts through setoff collection. The Committee also recommended approval of R. 1907, proposed by the State Athletic Commission to clean up its regulations pertaining to combative sports. The Committee voted to table H. 4376, a bill which creates and funds vouchers for mandatory driver education.

The Labor and Commerce Subcommittee gave a favorable report to H. 4666, a bill making revisions to the South Carolina Research Authority (a public entity created by the General Assembly in 1983 to enhance the research capabilities of the state's public and private universities and promote the development of high technology industries and research facilities in the state). Complying with requests made by the Research Authority, the bill authorizes the use the trade name "SCRA," and allows the SCRA to form not-for-profit corporations which could bid more successfully for technology grants awarded by the federal government and private corporations. The Subcommittee also heard testimony on H. 4694, a bill which responds to federal restructuring of the telecommunications industry, taking steps to ensure that basic local residential services are provided in all areas at reasonable rates in the deregulated marketplace. Among other things, the bill establishes the universal service fund into which all telecommunications companies will contribute based upon their intrastate gross revenues and out of which funds shall be distributed to carriers where the cost of providing basic local exchange phone services exceeds the maximum price permitted. Under H. 4694, the Public Service Commission would determine which long-distance service markets demonstrate competition, capping prices or otherwise regulating rates in areas judged noncompetitive.

The Banking and Consumer Affairs Subcommittee amended, then gave a favorable report to H. 4675, "The South Carolina Banking and Branching Efficiency Act of 1996." This bill comes in response to Congress' creation of an interstate banking and branching system effective June 1, 1997 and federal instructions for states to enact provisions for compliance. With an eye to eliminating duplicated services and enhancing customer convenience, H. 4675 allows South Carolina state banks to operate branches outside the state or merge or enter into agreements with out-of- state banks. Out-of-state banks would be able to acquire in-state institutions. The State Board of Financial Institutions would oversee all such transactions, disallowing mergers and acquisitions if: the institutions to be merged or acquired are less than five years old; the merger or acquisition would place an out-of-state institution in control of over thirty percent of the deposits held by South Carolina's institutions; or, other specified harms are posed by the transaction. In general, H. 4675 extends to state chartered banks advantages already enjoyed by nationally chartered banks. The Subcommittee also gave a favorable report to H. 4716 which subjects foreign beer brewers and their distributors to the same laws which govern the agreements between their domestic counterparts.


The Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs gave favorable reports to H. 4050 and S. 598. As amended, H. 4050 creates within the Department of Health and Environmental Control an Emergency Medical Services for Children program to establish EMS personnel education programs and guidelines for referral, treatment, interhospital transfer, and rehabilitation for critically ill or injured children. S. 598 allows the Board of Dentistry, in the course of investigating misconduct, to require a licensee, registrant, or applicant to submit to a mental or physical examination if it has been alleged that the person is incompetent to practice by reason of physical or mental illness, alcoholism, or substance abuse. The bill also adds as a ground for disciplinary action, the inappropriate prescription or administration of drugs by a dentist, dental hygienist, or dental technician. The Committee recommended approval for three regulations: R. 1863, promulgated by the Department of Social Services to provide standards for licensing and operating Supervised Independent Living programs for foster children between the ages of sixteen and twenty-one; and two regulations promulgated by the Department of Health and Human Services, R. 1875 clarifying when Medicaid prerecoupment hearings apply, and R. 1881 allowing entities other than DHHS's Division of Long Term Community Care to make eligibility determinations for Medicaid institutional long term care services. In addition, around forty individuals attended the Committee's public hearing on working conditions for corrections officers.

The Health and Environmental Affairs Subcommittee amended then gave a favorable report to H. 3182. As amended, the bill provides that: (1) no autopsy or postmortem, except for those ordered by a coroner or medical examiner, may be performed without the informed consent of next-of-kin; (2) following a suspicious death, the family be notified that a coroner or medical examiner has removed and kept body parts to determine cause or manner of death; and, (3) whenever any autopsy is performed, whether in a hospital or under the supervision of a coroner or medical examiner, informed consent must be obtained from the family if any body part is removed for any purpose other than determination of the cause and manner of death (such other purposes include scientific research, organ harvesting, etc.).


Committee members reported favorably on several bills last week. S. 996 revises the definition of "vacant land" as related to tax increment financing for redevelopment projects. H. 3029 repeals provisions relating to distribution of local option sales tax revenues among counties, while establishing transitional changes in the allocation of an estimated $76 million dollars between donor and receiving counties. The bill deletes the definition of "minimum distribution," and provides that local government revenue must be used to provide property tax relief during the first year. Afterward, local governments may use a limited percentage of the revenue for other purposes. H. 4020 increases the amount of bonds which can be issued by Clemson University for student and faculty housing from $40 million dollars to $45 million dollars. The bill also lengthens the capitalized interest period from one to two years in order to more closely reflect the actual time needed to complete projects. H.4313 addresses Citadel revenue bonds issued for student housing and auxiliary facilities. The bill increases the amount which can be outstanding from $25 million dollars to $35 million dollars. H. 4548 authorizes the University of South Carolina (USC) to issue revenue bonds for athletic facilities and equipment without prior approval of the State Budget and Control Board. However, the Budget and control Board, the Joint Bond Review Committee, and the Commission on Higher Education would still have to review and approve individual projects. The bill also authorizes the issuance of term bonds, and specific requirements relating to bond maturities are deleted. The bond reserve fund would be voluntary not mandatory, with other proceeds credited to the debt service fund or the bond reserve fund. Also, the bill deletes the requirement that USC play all of its home games at Carolina Stadium. H. 4549 authorizes USC to issue revenue bonds for student and faculty housing without prior approval of the State Budget and Control Board and the Joint Bond Review Committee. The bill also deletes the $25 million dollar cap on outstanding bonds, while requiring that these bonds have identifiable revenues available for repayment. H. 4550 enacts "The University of South Carolina Revenue Bond Act." The bill authorizes the issuance of revenue bonds to finance improvements and equipment, and establishes terms and conditions under which the bonds may be issued. H. 4553 extends the "grandfather" provision allowed cropland to timberland when receiving the agricultural use classification for property tax valuation. The bill would shift about $1.4 million dollars in local property taxes to other classes of real and personal property. Also, counties may be required to refund any 1995 tax liabilities resulting from this action during this fiscal year.



This measure extends a prohibition against taking striped and white bass hybrids from certain areas of the Savannah River until July 1, 2001. Without this legislation, the prohibition will expire July 1, 1996. The bill also expands the area covered by the moratorium to include up to the Augusta Lock and Dam rather than the New Savannah Bluff Lock Dam.

The bill prohibits the taking of striped bass less than twenty-one inches in the following rivers: Weotuma, Pee Dee, Black, Sampit, Cooper, Ashley, Edisto, Ashepoo, Combahee, Coosawhatchie, New, and Savannah Rivers. Creel limits are set at five fish.

H. 4741 CRAB POTS Rep. McTeer
Under provisions of this bill, using crab pots to catch crab for commercial purposes in Coles Creek would be prohibited.


S. 1217 APPROVAL OF REGULATION 1840 Senate Education
This is a joint resolution to approve R. 1840 authorizing the Commission on Higher Education to implement the African-American Teacher Loan Program which allows Benedict College, South Carolina State University, and Voorhees College to provide loans to male african-american students who agree to teach in the state.

This bill would remove the requirement that the Scenic Highways Committee be terminated effective June 30, 1997, unless reauthorized by joint resolution of the General Assembly.

This bill would allow institutions of higher education to establish legal holidays for their employees different from those provided by law so long as the total number of holidays in any calendar year does not exceed the total number of legal holidays allowed.


S. 913 INCOME TAX PROVISIONS Sen. Passailaigue
This is an annual technical revision updating the reference date for adoption of the Internal Revenue Service codes.

The bill provides that the identity or picture of a juvenile offender may be made public in cases of violent crime, car theft, drug trafficking, or where a weapon is involved.

S. 1016 TRESPASSING Sen. Martin
The measure deletes the requirement that a warning must be given to a person within the preceding six months before he could be arrested for trespassing.

The proposed legislation abolishes a municipal election commission in cases where the county election commission has assumed total responsibility for municipal elections.

Under provisions of this bill, consumers would no longer have to pay sales tax on motor oil, new tires, lead-acid batteries, and white goods.

The bill amends the "Uniform Interstate Family Support Act" by revising the criteria for an employer to receive an income tax credit for hiring a welfare recipient. Currently the employee must have been on welfare during the twelve months before hiring. The measure shortens that time frame to three months. It also deletes the requirement that the former welfare recipient remain continuously employed by that employer for twelve months before the credit is allowed, and provides for an additional one hundred seventy-five dollar ($175) monthly tax credit per employee which an employer in a least developed county can claim for three years. The bill authorizes unused credits to be carried forward for fifteen years. It provides that a person who is permanently and totally disabled is exempted from time limitations placed on receiving welfare rather than one who is either permanently or totally disabled. The measure authorizes transitional medicaid and child care for two years rather than one. It also provides that a person receiving a notice of financial responsibility to make child support payments may request a court hearing within thirty days rather than the current twenty days, and that a negotiation conference must be scheduled within ninety rather than sixty days after the notice was issued.

This measure provides that the prohibition against gaming or slot machines does not apply to antique slot machines made before January 1, 1965 when kept by the owner at his residence and not used for commercial or gaming purposes.

The bill revises the law to make indecent exposure illegal in any location which is publicly accessible.

H. 4740 VOTE SWAPPING Rep. Haskins
The proposed legislation prohibits legislators from trading votes to work out deals so that their candidates may be chosen for an office elected by the General Assembly. However, the measure does not preclude vote swapping when candidates are running for different positions.

Under this bill, public or private postsecondary educational institutions receiving state financial assistance must provide students the opportunity to register to vote or update their registration when registering or paying for classes.

This measure revises the method by which a candidate for watershed director becomes qualified. The nominating petition is eliminated, and a declaration of candidacy is required instead.

H. 4753 NOTARY FEE Rep. Marchbanks
The bill raises the application and renewal fees for a notary public from twenty-five dollars ($25) to fifty dollars ($50).


This bill requires health insurers to provide payment at the recommendation of the physician for hospitalization of a mother and her newborn until the second postpartum day or the third post-operative day in the case of a caesarian section.

This bill adds Calhoun and Colleton to the list of counties in which the Public Service Authority is authorized to acquire, treat, transmit, distribute and sell water. The measure also allows the Public Service Authority to transfer water from one river basin to another within the counties it serves.

This bill requires a licensed nonresident real estate salesman to be affiliated with a resident broker licensed in this state. It would be the responsibility of the resident broker to verify that the nonresident salesman holds a valid license with the state. Real estate sales or lease agreements would be void if they do not meet with the requirements of the bill.

This bill allows an individual to register a security in beneficiary form, designating someone who will take over ownership at his death.


No bills were assigned to this committee last week.


The bill repeals Chapter 51 of the tax laws which provides an alternate procedure for collecting property taxes. Instead the measure adds Chapter 52 to establish the procedure to be used by local governments to collect delinquent property taxes except for motor vehicle taxes.

The measure prohibits a municipality from charging a higher water and sewer rate to a Lexington County area which it annexes. The bill provides that the area must be charged the same rate that the incorporated area of that municipality pays. It also prohibits the municipality from imposing under certain circumstances a service charge, tax, or business license fee in these areas. The proposed legislation resulted from a dispute over water and sewer rates the City of Columbia has proposed to charge a strip mall in the Harbison area of Lexington County.

H. 4737 ETV Rep. Chamblee
The proposed legislation reauthorizes ETV and revises qualifications for serving on the ETV Commission. The measure also establishes the Information Technology Advisory Council. It requires that the Budget and Control Board approve requested information technology equipment, including that for the school districts which they shall own. In addition, the bill requires that ETV implement a marketing plan, increase revenue generated at each of the regional stations, and open its daycare facilities to the general public, as suggested in sunset review recommendations. ETV also would be required to evaluate the effectiveness of instructional television.


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Also, the Legislative Update can be found on the World Wide Web! Visit the South Carolina General Assembly Home Page (WWW.LPITR.STATE.SC.US) and click on the "Quick-Find Guide." On the next screen, click on "Reports." This will list all of the Legislative Updates by week. Click on the week you need.

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