February 11, 2003
Vol. 20, No. 5
South Carolina House of Representatives
David H. Wilkins, Speaker of the House
OFFICE OF RESEARCH
Room 213, Blatt Building, P.O. Box 11867, Columbia, S.C.
29211, (803) 734-3230
NOTE: Bill summaries included in this document are prepared by the staff of the South Carolina House of Representatives and are not the expression of the legislation's sponsor(s) or the House of Representatives. The summaries are strictly for the internal use and benefit of members of the House of Representatives and are not to be construed by a court of law as an expression of legislative intent.
Legislative Update, February 11, 2003
HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW
The House of Representatives approved and sent to the Senate H.3448 pertaining to AT-WILL EMPLOYMENT. H.3448 revises South Carolina's at-will employment doctrine in light of recent court rulings under which employers who use employee handbooks, even with conspicuous disclaimers and employee acknowledgements, may inadvertently create a contract of employment that replaces the intended at-will employment relationship. Under the bill, no handbook, policy, procedure, or other document issued by an employer or its agent may form an express or implied contract of employment, unless: (a) the contract is in writing; (b) the contract is signed by the employee and an authorized agent of the employer; and (c) the contract expressly provides that the parties intend to alter their at-will employment relationship. The legislation applies to both public and private employment. Under an at-will employment relationship, any employment for an indefinite term is terminable by either the employee or the employer for any reason or for no reason without incurring liability for wrongful discharge. Under at-will employment, liability for wrongful discharge is incurred if the employee is discharged in a manner that discriminates against race, age, gender and other categories protected under the state's public policy.
The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.3344, a bill providing that BROADBAND SERVICE IS EXEMPT FROM REGULATION BY THE PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION. The legislation exempts from PSC regulation broadband service which is defined as any service that is used to provide access to the Internet and consists of the offering of: (a) a capability to transmit information at a rate that is generally not less than one hundred ninety kilobits per second in at least one direction; or (b) any service that combines computer processing, information storage, and protocol conversion to enable users to access Internet content and services.
The House approved and sent to the Senate H.3199, a bill that REQUIRES CLERGY TO REPORT CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT. This bill revises the list of persons required to report child abuse and neglect, so as to include a member of the clergy. The bill requires a priest to make such reports except when the communication is protected by the statutorily prescribed priest-penitent privilege.
The House approved and sent to the Senate H.3010, a bill regarding JURISDICTION OVER PREMARITAL AGREEMENTS. This bill establishes that the family court has exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine matters relating to the validity of premarital agreements and the effect of premarital agreements on issues otherwise within the court's jurisdiction.
The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.3300 a bill that provides RABBITS MAY BE HUNTED AT NIGHT WITHOUT WEAPONS at any time except from March 1 to September 1.
The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.3299, a bill revising restrictions on HUNTING RACCOON, OPOSSUM, AND FOX. The bill revises the hunting season for raccoons and opossums in specified game zones. The bill also provides that during a period in which raccoons, opossums, or fox are allowed to be hunted without weapons, it is unlawful to take, or attempt to take, the animals.
The House recommitted to the Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environmental Affairs Committee H.3360, a bill relating to LIMITS ON RED DRUM.
HOUSE COMMITTEE ACTION
AGRICULTURE, NATURAL RESOURCES, AND
The full Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environmental Affairs Committee reported favorable with amendment on H.3041, relating to CLOTHING REQUIREMENTS FOR DEER HUNTING. As reported by the Committee, this bill requires that all persons hunting deer must wear a hat, shirt, coat, or vest of solid visible international orange, unless they are occupying a stand more than six feet above ground.
The Committee reported favorable with amendment on H.3299. As reported by the Committee, this bill REVISES THE HUNTING SEASON FOR RACCOONS AND OPOSSUMS IN SPECIFIED GAME ZONES. The bill also provides that DURING A PERIOD IN WHICH RACCOONS, OPOSSUMS, OR FOX ARE ALLOWED TO BE HUNTED WITHOUT WEAPONS, IT IS UNLAWFUL TO TAKE, OR ATTEMPT TO TAKE, THE ANIMALS.
The Committee reported favorable with amendment on H.3300. As reported by the Committee, this bill provides that RABBITS MAY BE HUNTED AT NIGHT WITHOUT WEAPONS at any time except from March 1 to September 1.
The Committee reported favorable with amendment on H.3303, relating to BAITING DEER ON PRIVATE LAND. As reported by the Committee, this bill provides that it is not unlawful to hunt deer on Sunday on private land in this State during the prescribed season for hunting deer.
The Committee reported favorable with amendment on H.3360 (note: see summary under House Week in Review in this document), relating to LIMITS ON RED DRUM. As reported by the Committee, this bill provides that it is unlawful to take or have in possession more than three red drum in any one day. Currently, the limit is two red drum in any one day.
EDUCATION AND PUBLIC WORKS
The full Education and Public Works Committee reported favorable with amendment on H.3361, relating to SCHOOL MAKE-UP DAYS. As reported by the Committee, this bill provides that beginning with the 2003-2004 school year, each local school district board has the authority to establish an annual school calendar for students, faculty, and staff to include starting dates, ending dates, holidays, inservice days and professional development days. As reported by the Committee, the bill also provides that all school districts shall annually designate at least three days for students and at least three days for teachers to be used as make-up days in the event of extreme weather or other disruptions. The bill authorizes the local board, under certain circumstances and with State Board of Education approval, to lengthen the hours of school operation by no less than one hour per day for the total number of hours missed. The bill also includes a provision that prior to introducing local legislation to excuse any days missed because of extreme weather or other disruptions, legislative delegations should determine by vote of the local school board whether the board supports excusing days missed for students or teachers, or both. Additionally, the bill provides that legislative delegations should determine whether the district has used the required designated make-up days or attempted to make up days by lengthening the hours of school operation prior to introduction of local legislation to excuse days.
The full Judiciary Committee met on Tuesday, February 4, and reported out two bills.
The committee gave a favorable report on H.3199, a bill that REQUIRES CLERGY TO REPORT CHILD ABUSE AND NEGLECT. This bill revises the list of persons required to report child abuse and neglect, so as to include a member of the clergy. The bill requires a priest to make such reports except when the communication is protected by the statutorily prescribed priest-penitent privilege.
The committee gave a favorable report on H.3010, a bill regarding JURISDICTION OVER PREMARITAL AGREEMENTS. This bill establishes that the family court has exclusive jurisdiction to hear and determine matters relating to the validity of premarital agreements and the effect of premarital agreements on issues otherwise within the court's jurisdiction.
H.3118, a bill ELIMINATING RESTRICTIONS ON AWARDING GRANDPARENT VISITATION, was recommitted to the General Laws Subcommittee.
WAYS AND MEANS
The full Ways and Means Committee gave a report of favorable with amendment to H.3424, a bill which would, among other things, IMPOSE REVISED STATE SPENDING LIMITATIONS.
As reported by the Committee, H.3424 proposes to amend the State Constitution so as to delete the existing limitation on state appropriations and impose a new limit which would be the lesser of 106% of base-year appropriations, or base-year appropriations increased by a percentage formula based on the State's growth in population and any increases in the consumer price index. The limit would be effective beginning with fiscal year 2005 appropriations.
The bill also proposes to amend the Constitution so as to ESTABLISH A SPENDING LIMIT RESERVE FUND, comprised of all general fund revenues accumulated in a fiscal year in excess of the appropriations limit, and available for appropriation by the General Assembly in the year following the close of the applicable fiscal year. The bill delineates purposes for which these funds may be appropriated.
The bill provides that notwithstanding the requirement for passage of constitutional amendments and subsequent ratification to make these provisions effective, the General Assembly shall conform to these provisions beginning with fiscal year 2005 appropriations, to the extent appropriations allowed under the bill do not exceed the then applicable spending limit.
The Committee also reported favorable with amendment on H.3496, a joint resolution PROPOSING TWO AMENDMENTS TO THE STATE CONSTITUTION. As reported by the Committee, H.3496 proposes a voter referendum to amend the Constitution as follows:
The Committee recommitted to subcommittee H.3497, a bill relating to an ADDITIONAL LIMITATION ON SPENDING OF PROPERTY TAX REVENUES FOR THE OPERATION OF POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS AND SCHOOL DISTRICTS.
- DELETE THE EXISTING STATE SPENDING LIMITATION and require the General Assembly to replace it with a law providing a limit for a fiscal year (and an enforcement mechanism therefore) that is the lesser of prior year state appropriations plus six percent or the total of prior year state appropriations adjusted for inflation and population growth.
- ESTABLISH A "SPENDING LIMIT RESERVE FUND" to which must be credited all general fund revenues in a fiscal year in excess of the spending limit, with the General Assembly providing purposes for which revenues in this fund may be used and the timing and method of the General Assembly's appropriation of these revenues. The resolution provides that the implementing law may not be repealed except by a special vote as described in the resolution.
BILLS INTRODUCED IN THE
HOUSE THIS WEEK
EDUCATION AND PUBLIC WORKS
H.3498 SCHOOL TERM FOR PICKENS COUNTY Rep. Trotter
This bill provides that, beginning with school year 2003-2004, the starting and ending date for the Pickens County School District school term must be set by the trustees of the district, provided the term complies with relevant statutory requirements.
H.3501 COUNTYWIDE SCHOOL DISTRICTS Rep. Viers
This bill requires and provides for counties of the State to be constituted as a school district, prohibiting multiple school districts within a county's boundaries.
H.3509 EXPIRATION OF DRIVER'S LICENSE Rep. Herbkersman
This bill provides that a driver's license is valid for seven years after issuance, rather than five years, as is currently provided.
H.3515 SCHOOL TERM FOR UNION COUNTY Rep. Anthony
This bill requires that, effective for school year 2003-2004, the beginning and ending date for the school term of School District of Union County must be set by the trustees of the district, provide that the term must comply with relevant statutory requirements.
H.3521 "VIETNAM VETERAN" SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES Rep. Cotty
This bill authorizes and provides for the issuance of special "Vietnam Veteran" license plates.
H.3522 DRIVER'S LICENSE EXPIRATION DATE Rep. Young
This bill provides that a driver's license expires on the licensee's birthday on the tenth calendar year after issuance. Currently, a license expires on the licensee's birthday on the fifth calendar year after issuance.
H.3523 SCHOOL TERM IN OCONEE COUNTY DISTRICT Rep. Whitmire
This bill requires that, beginning with school year 2003-2004, the start and end dates for the School District of Oconee County must be set by the district board, provided the term complies with relevant statutes.
H.3538 "DEPARTMENT OF MOTOR VEHICLES REFORM ACT OF 2003" Rep. Townsend
This bill establishes and provides for the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as an administrative agency of state government. The bill transfers and devolves to the DMV all functions, powers, duties, responsibilities, and authority of the Motor Vehicle Division of the Department of Public Safety, deleting all statutory references to the Motor Vehicle Division. The bill provides that the DMV Director shall be appointed by the Governor and confirmed by the Senate, and shall serve at the pleasure of the Governor.
The bill also requires and provides for a U.S. male citizen or immigrant who is less than twenty-six years of age to be registered for the U.S. Selective Service when applying to the DMV for the issuance, renewal, or a duplicate copy of a driver's license, commercial driver's license, or identification card.
The bill also provides that driver's licenses issued after July 1, 2003, expire on the licensee's birthdate on the tenth calendar year after the year of issue (current expiration date is on the fifth calendar year after issuance), unless the licensee is age sixty-five or older. The fee for a ten year license under this bill would be twenty-five dollars.
The bill also includes provisions for the issuance of validation decals, including authorization for county treasurers to charge a one dollar fee for issuing both a validation decal and registration card.
H.3507 AUTHORITY TO INSPECT LEASED REAL ESTATE, FIXTURES, AND EQUIPMENT Rep. McGee
This bill provides that when real estate, fixtures, or equipment are the subject of a commercial lease agreement, the lessor has the right to enter the premises to ensure that the leased real estate, fixtures, and equipment are being used in a reasonable and safe manner and are not being negligently or deliberately destroyed, defaced, damaged, impaired, abused, or removed. The lessor may not abuse the right to enter the premises and may not use this right of access to harass the lessee. Except in the case of a demonstrable emergency, the lessor shall give the lessee at least twenty-four hours' notice of his intent to enter and the entry must be scheduled at a reasonable time. A lessee may not unreasonably withhold consent to the lessor to enter the subject premises for the purposes described in
H.3508 PREMARITAL AGREEMENT TO WAIVE ALIMONY OR ATTORNEY'S FEES Rep. G. M. Smith
This bill provides that a provision in a premarital agreement that waives alimony or attorney's fees is enforceable unless: (1) the agreement was obtained through fraud, duress, or mistake, or through misrepresentation or nondisclosure of material facts; (2) the agreement is unconscionable; and (3) the facts and circumstances of the parties have changed since the agreement was executed, and the enforcement of the agreement is unfair and unreasonable. The bill specifies what may be considered in deciding whether an agreement is unconscionable.
H.3516 UNLAWFUL WITHHOLDING OR FRAUDULENT APPROPRIATION OF RENTAL PROPERTY Rep. Vaughn
This bill revises provisions relating to the unlawful failure to return certain rental property or the fraudulent appropriation of such property, so as to provide that the value of the loss of revenue caused by the unlawful withholding or fraudulent appropriation of rental property may be considered for the purposes of computing the applicable penalty. The bill provides that a circuit court judge or magistrate may order restitution in amount based on the value of the loss of revenue or damage to the rented item. The bill revises a provision relating to a magistrates' authority to order restitution, so as to remove the limitation that such restitution be in an amount not to exceed five thousand dollars.
H.3517 ALL FELONS SUBJECT TO INMATE DNA SAMPLING Rep. Owens
This bill revises provisions under which certain inmates are required to provide a sample from which DNA may be obtained for inclusion in the State DNA Database, so as to expand the group of inmates who must provide a sample to include all inmates who have been convicted or adjudicated for a felony.
H.3528 CERTIFICATION OF FETAL DEATH Rep. Sheheen
This bill requires that a fetal death certificate be completed for each fetal death occurring after a gestational period of twenty weeks or more. The bill requires a certificate of birth resulting in stillbirth to be completed for each fetal death occurring after a gestational period of twenty weeks or more. The bill makes provisions regarding the completion and filing of these certificates.
H.3529 PEREMPTORY CHALLENGES EQUALIZED IN CRIMINAL CASES Rep. W. D. Smith
This bill revises provisions for peremptory challenges in jury selection, so as to allow the prosecution the same number of peremptory challenges as the defense in criminal cases.
H.3532 DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC SAFETY MATTERS Rep. Cooper
The bill increases certain fines pertaining to driving under the influence offenses and provides in each instance that one hundred dollars of each fine imposed be placed by the Comptroller General into a special account to be used by the Department of Public Safety for Highway Patrol salary increases, to hire additional Highway Patrolmen, and to purchase video cameras to be placed in Highway Patrol vehicles. The bill also makes revisions regarding the filing fee for requesting an administrative hearing to challenge certain driver's license suspensions, so as to provide that this fee applies to any administrative hearing before the Department of Public Safety, and to increase the fee from fifty to one hundred dollars. The bill makes revisions regarding a person's right to compulsory process when charged with the offense of, or an offense related to, driving under the influence of alcohol or another substance, so as to eliminate the provision that allows a person charged with an offense to complete a hearing request form and give it to the arresting officer who shall forward it to the Department of Public Safety. The bill revises provisions relating to the suspension of a person's driver's license who refuses to submit to a test to determine his alcohol concentration or who has a certain alcohol concentration, so as to eliminate the provision that requires a person to enroll in an alcohol and drug safety action program before he may request an administrative hearing.
H.3533 UNLAWFUL TO MAKE PURCHASES ON CREDIT WITH INTENT NOT TO PAY Rep. Kennedy
This bill provides that it is unlawful for a person to obtain goods, wares, merchandise, or other items of personal property on credit from a retail establishment with the intent not to pay for the items when payment becomes due. The bill provides that circumstantial as well as direct evidence is admissible to prove a person's intention not to pay for items obtained on credit. Penalties are provided for violations. The bill revises a provision relating to the suspension of the driver's license of a person convicted of failing to pay for gasoline, so as to provide that this provision applies to a person who fails to pay for certain other goods when payment becomes due.
LABOR, COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY
H.3524 NATIONAL BUILDING CODES Rep. Cato
This bill requires all state agencies charged with enforcing national building codes to adopt the latest edition of pertinent codes. Exceptions are provided. The bill establishes procedures for the adoption of these codes, including notice in the State Register and the opportunity for public comment. The bill requires proposed codes receiving negative comments or codes subject to proposed agency amendments to be promulgated as regulations.
H.3525 AUTHORITY OF LAND SURVEYORS TO ENTER PRIVATE LANDS Rep. Cato
This bill allows registered land surveyors, their employees, and agents to enter onto the lands of others for the purpose of performing customary and necessary acts of surveying land. The bill provides landowners protection from legal liability for land surveyors' injuries or actions while on premises.
H.3526 STATUTE OF LIMITATIONS ON ACTIONS AGAINST REGISTERED LAND SURVEYORS Rep. Cato
This bill creates a four-year statute of limitations on actions against registered surveyors or their employees engaged in the practice of land surveying. The legislation specifies when the statute of limitations may not be used as a defense. The bill revises provisions relating to actions based upon the defective or unsafe condition of an improvement to real property, so as to remove surveying as an improvement to real property.
H.3530 PUBLIC SERVICE COMMISSION REVISIONS Rep. Cato
This bill establishes new provisions regarding qualifications, screening, and terms of membership for the Public Service Commission. The bill prohibits membership on and restricts employment by the Public Service Commission of a person associated with a regulated business. The bill provides for ethics standards and requirements for Public Service Commissioners. The bill establishes an advisory staff and an advocacy staff for the commission and provides for their responsibilities. The bill prohibits ex parte communications with and by a commissioner or advisory staff in connection with a pending proceeding. The bill revises provisions relating to persons ineligible to serve on the Public Service Commission, so as to allow a member of the General Assembly to serve four years after he has not filed for reelection to the General Assembly. The bill eliminates the responsibilities of the Division of Consumer Advocacy of The Department of Consumer Affairs in connection with the Public Service Commission. The bill revises provisions relating to seeking or offering pledges of votes in Public Service Commission elections, so as to prohibit the direct or indirect seeking of a pledge or communication about screening until candidates for the office are determined.
WAYS AND MEANS
S.269 SURPLUS NATIONAL GUARD ARMORY Sen. Pinckney
This joint resolution requires the Budget and Control Board to transfer ownership of a surplus National Guard Armory in Ridgeland, South Carolina, to the County of Jasper.
S.294 SURPLUS NATIONAL GUARD ARMORY Sen. Land
This joint resolution requires the Budget and Control Board to transfer ownership of a surplus National Guard Armory in Bishopville, South Carolina, to Lee County and the City of Bishopville.
H.3496 STATE SPENDING LIMIT/SPENDING LIMIT RESERVE FUND Rep. Harrell
This joint resolution proposes two amendments to the State Constitution, which would be submitted to the voters at the next general election. The proposed amendments are as follows:
H.3497 SPENDING LIMITATION ON PROPERTY TAX REVENUES Rep. Quinn
- Amend the Constitution by deleting the existing state spending limitation and require the General Assembly to replace it by a law providing a limit on state spending for a fiscal year that is the lesser of the total of state appropriations in the prior year plus six percent, or the total of state appropriations in the prior year adjusted for inflation and population growth; and to provide that the General Assembly in enacting the limit shall define the appropriations to which the limit applies, exceptions to the limit, and the method of calculating the limit.
- Amend the Constitution by providing that the General Assembly by law shall establish a new "Spending Limit Reserve Fund" to which must be credited all general fund revenues in a fiscal year in excess of the applicable constitutional spending limit; by providing that the General Assembly in the implementing law shall define surplus revenues, provide purposes for which the revenues credited to the fund must be used, and the timing and method of the General Assembly's appropriation of these revenues; and providing that the implementing law may not be amended or repealed except by a special vote of the General Assembly as specified in the bill.
This bill provides that, effective for property taxes imposed for operations in fiscal years beginning after June 30, 2005, a local governing body or school district may not spend property tax revenues for a fiscal year for operating purposes that exceed the lesser of the total of the entity's property tax revenues for operations in the prior year plus six percent or the total of the entire property tax revenues for operations in the prior year adjusted for inflation and population growth.
H.3513 ELECTRONIC GOVERNMENT SERVICES ACT Rep. Barfield
This bill enacts the Electronic Government Services Act, intended to protect economic opportunities for private industry against unfair competition by government agencies, and to enhance the efficient provision of public goods and services. The bill prohibits a government agency from engaging in electronic commerce service activity except under specified circumstances, using specified procedures. "Electronic commerce services" are services that are the same, similar to or overlapping those information-based services provided by the private sector to the general public, such as the buying of goods and services on the internet. The bill does not prohibit a government agency from providing these services in the absence of the private sector provision of the services.
H.3514 MEDICAID ALLOWANCE Rep. Sheheen
This bill requires the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), phased in ratably over five years, to conform the state Medicaid Monthly Maintenance needs Allowance to the most current maximum amounts authorized by the federal government. The bill authorizes the DHHS to use general funds appropriated to the agency in the general appropriations act to implement this provision.
S.9 JOINT AGENCY ACT Sen. Hayes
This bill authorizes and provides for special purpose districts of the State to create joint agencies to provide for the joint exercise of powers, joint administration of functions, and sharing of costs. The stated intent of the bill is to provide to the Gas Authorities of the State a mechanism to work jointly so as to ensure that the natural gas services are provided as efficiently and inexpensively as possible.
H.3527 PROPERTY TAX EXEMPTION FOR CERTAIN VETERANS Rep. Kennedy
For purposes of property tax exemption eligibility for certain veterans, this bill defines "permanently and totally disabled" to mean "the inability to perform substantial gainful employment by reason of a medically determinable impairment, either physical or mental, that has lasted or is expected to last for a continuous period of twelve months or more or result in death." The bill also deletes the current requirement that the disability be service-connected.
H.3531 USE OF INMATE LABOR Rep. Wilkins
This bill authorizes the Director of the Department of Corrections (the Department) to contract with private sector entities that allow inmate labor to be provided for prison industry service work. The bill further authorizes the Department to negotiate the wage to be paid for such labor, which the bill provides may be less than the prevailing wage for work of a similar nature in the private sector.
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