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.
The full Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environmental Affairs Committee met and reported out four bills this week. The Committee gave a favorable report to H.3246, which declares as a BIRD SANCTUARY the grounds of the Presbyterian Home of South Carolina located on Highway 56 in the town of Clinton in Laurens County. H.3275, a bill pertaining to HUNTING, received a favorable report from the Committee. Under this bill, any person who is convicted of or pleads guilty or no contest to a criminal offense resulting from the shooting of any cow or horse shall also have his or her hunting privileges suspended for a period of two years. Before the suspension period may be lifted, the bill requires the offender to successfully complete a hunter education class or course educating the offender on the proper use of weapons, game identification, and safety. H.3372 received a favorable report. This bill INCREASES THE CATCH LIMIT FOR THE SALTWATER FISH RED DRUM from two to five in any one day. The full Committee gave a favorable report to H.3355, which enacts the "SOUTH CAROLINA DAIRY STABILIZATION ACT." This bill creates a 13 member South Carolina Milk Board (the Board), whose duties, among other things, are to ensure that dairy producers receive fair market breakeven prices, to monitor the consumption and distribution of South Carolina produced milk, and to mediate differences between milk producers and buyers. The bill provides for the membership of the Board. The bill provides for the Board to appoint an executive director who shall serve ex-officio as a non-voting Board member. Principal offices of the Board will be within the South Carolina Department of Agriculture building. H.3355 provides that the Board is an instrumentality of the State and is authorized to make, adopt, and enforce regulations and issue and enforce orders necessary to carry out the purposes of the bill.
The bill requires and provides for buyer fees to be collected on all fluid milk produced in this State, and the bill requires that funds from these fees must be deposited into a special fund (the Dairy Producers Settlement Fund) and disbursed, as provided in the bill, to all producers in the State who sold or shipped milk in the month when prices fell below the fair market breakeven amount as determined by the Board. H.3355 prohibits a milk buyer from engaging in the purchase of South Carolina milk until having obtained a license from the Board. The Board is authorized, among other actions, to invoke a monetary penalty for buyers who violate the provisions of the bill. Funds from such penalties would be deposited into the Dairy Producers Settlement Fund.
The bill requires and provides for the Board to develop an accounting system designed to show for each buyer of fluid milk under the Board's supervision, the total purchases of South Carolina milk by the buyer and the sales of milk sold in this State. The bill further requires that buyers under the supervision of the Board use this system of accounting. H.3355 provides that violations of the provisions of the bill are a misdemeanor punishable by fine or imprisonment, and multiple violations may result in license or permit revocation.
The bill requires the Board to prepare an annual budget and requires the Board to collect funds required for operation of the bill's provisions from the State's dairy producers. Expenses of the Board must be met by an assessment of up to one cent per gallon of milk produced in this State. The provisions of H.3355 are repealed on July 1, 2012.
The legislation as passed by the full Committee provides for the South Carolina Contribution Among Tortfeasors Act; this particular section of the bill relates to actions to recover damages relating from personal injury, wrongful death, or damage to property. As passed by the full Committee, the legislation revises joint and several liability in instances where more than one tortfeasor (wrongdoer) is found to be liable. Current law provides liability among joint tortfeasors is both joint and several meaning that any tortfeasor may be responsible for the entire amount of the judgment.
Under the legislation as passed by the full Committee, each defendant against whom recovery is allowed is liable to the claimant only for the defendant's proportionate share of the recoverable damages. The jury or court is required to determine the amount of damages and the percentage of liability for each defendant. When damages from a liable defendant are determined to be uncollectible after good faith efforts by the claimant to collect, a procedure is established for reallocating the uncollectible amount among the other defendants. The bill provides that a right of contribution exists in favor of a tortfeasor who has paid more than his/her proportionate share of the common liability.
As passed by the full Committee, the bill also has provisions for allocating liability among tortfeasors when a release or a covenant not to sue or not to enforce judgment is given in good faith to one of two or more persons liable in tort for the same injury or wrongful death.
The bill as passed by the Committee provides that the South Carolina Tort Claims Act is the sole remedy for any tort committed by an employee of a governmental entity acting within the scope of the government employee's official duty.
This bill as passed by the full Committee revises the statute of limitations for filing an action for a construction defect. Current law provides that no actions to recover damages in these situations may be brought more than 13 years after substantial completion of the improvement. The legislation as passed by the Committee lowers the statute of repose to eight years.
The legislation as passed by the full Committee establishes new provisions for venue; the term 'venue' generally refers to the place where a jury is drawn and in which the trial is held. With regards to venue, the legislation as passed by the full Committee provides as follows:
As passed by the full Committee, the legislation establishes new provisions regarding frivolous lawsuits. The legislation as passed by the full Committee provides that a pleading must be signed by at least one attorney of record, or, if the party is not represented by an attorney, the party must sign the pleading. The signature certifies to the court that the person has read the document and believes, in good faith, the pleading is not frivolous. The party may be sanctioned if he/she fails to disclose facts necessary to put his/her attorney on notice that the claim or defense is frivolous. If a document is signed in violation of these provisions, the court may impose an appropriate sanction upon the violator including: an order for the party to pay reasonable costs and attorneys fees; an order for the attorney to pay a reasonable fine to the court; or, a directive of a nonmonetary nature designed to deter future misconduct. The attorney or party must be notified before the imposition of sanctions. After notification, the party or attorney then has 30 days to withdraw the document or argument, respond to the allegations, or mitigate the effects of the violation. The provisions relating to frivolous lawsuits are in addition to all other remedies available at law or in equity.
The bill specifies that a contact lens prescription is valid for 12 months from the date the prescription is authorized or from the date of the last evaluation by an optometrist or ophthalmologist. Under the bill, an optometrist or an ophthalmologist may employ unlicensed assistant personnel under the optometrist's or ophthalmologist's direct supervision as provided for in their respective practice acts. After a patient's contact lenses have been evaluated and fitted to the satisfaction of an optometrist or ophthalmologist, the prescription must be released if requested by the patient and if the patient has paid in full for the examination and fitting.
The bill further provides that except for law enforcement or military personnel, it is unlawful to possess a shotgun loaded with buckshot or larger ammunition or a rifle loaded with ammunition larger than .22 in a water conveyance on the waters of this State. Penalties are provided for violation of this provision.
S.291 STATEWIDE LIFETIME HUNTING AND FISHING LICENSE Sen. Gregory
Current law allows South Carolina residents that have attained the age of 65 to obtain a statewide lifetime hunting and fishing license at no cost. This bill reduces the age requirement to age 64 to obtain such a license as well as implements a nine dollar fee for the license. An exception is provided for those residents that have attained the age of 65 on or before July 1, 2005.
Beginning with the 2005-06 school year, the bill phases in increasing requirements for physical education instruction time for students in kindergarten through fifth grade. Schools that do not meet this requirement will receive professional development assistance.
The bill requires each South Carolina public school to measure its degree of compliance with physical education standards for students in kindergarten through twelfth grade. The bill requires schools to report to the State Department of Education samples of student physical education performance at the second grade, fifth grade, eighth grade, and high school level with results to be reported to state and local school boards, school administrators, and teachers. An overall physical education school effectiveness score must be reported to parents/guardians as a part of the school report card, and an individual student's fitness status must be reported to parents/guardians during a student's fifth grade, eighth grade, and high school physical education courses.
The bill requires and provides for each elementary school to designate a physical education teacher to be the Physical Education Activity Director of that school.
The bill also provides for nutrition standards in elementary schools, requiring that schools provide optimal nutrition and support the development of healthy eating habits for students, as provided in the bill. The bill prohibits elementary schools from providing students foods of minimal nutritional value and limits sale of foods and beverages other than school meals to milk, juice, entrees, bread, fruits, vegetables, and food items that are considered meal components.
The bill requires that elementary schools provide students at least twenty minutes to eat lunch once they have received their food. The bill also requires and provides for the establishment of a Coordinate School Health Advisory Council (CSHAC) comprised of certain community and school representatives and charged to assess, plan, implement, and monitor school health policies and programs within the district, including the development of a local wellness policy as required of school districts participating in the USDA school lunch and after school snack programs beginning in school year 2005-06.
The bill requires the State Department of Education to make available to school districts a coordinated school health model, with certain components delineated in the bill, designed to address health issues of children. The bill requires elementary schools to establish and maintain school-level coordinated health advisory councils and to develop school health improvement plans as provided in the bill.
The bill requires a weekly minimum of twenty minutes of nutrition education for kindergarten through fifth grade students. The bill requires the Department of Education to assess health education programs and report their findings on the school report card, beginning with a pilot program and with full implementation of this requirement by the 2006-07 school year. The bill requires K-5 teachers to provide professional development in health education to include nutrition education annually.
H.3503 LICENSE PLATES FOR MEMBERS OF FEDERAL COMMISSIONS AND BOARDS Rep. Limehouse
This bill provides that every personalized license plate issued to members of licensed federal commissions and boards expires January thirty-first each year in which a new session of the General Assembly begins. H.3524 COMMERCIAL DRIVER'S LICENSE PROGRAM Rep. Townsend
This bill requires the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles to administer the South Carolina Commercial Driver's License Program in accordance with the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations, and makes numerous revisions of commercial driving provisions to bring these provisions into conformity with these federal regulations. H.3526 DALE EARNHARDT DAY Rep. Sandifer
This bill designates April 29th of each year as "Dale Earnhardt Day" in South Carolina.
Under this bill, a provision affecting a motor carrier transportation contract that indemnifies, defends or holds harmless the contract's promisee from or against liability for loss or damage resulting from the negligence or intentional acts or omissions of the contract's promisee is against the public policy of the State. There is an exception for damages caused by and resulting from negligence of the motor carrier, its agents, employees, servants or independent contractors who are directly responsible to the motor carrier.
H.3483 POST-CONVICTION RELIEF Rep. Jennings
The bill provides that a fee is not required for the initial filing for post-conviction relief by a prisoner. If a prisoner brings a subsequent action for post-conviction relief, the bill requires the prisoner to pay a filing fee. The bill has provisions for determining the amount of the fee. The bill does not prohibit a prisoner from filing a subsequent action if the prisoner cannot pay the fee; the bill allows for a payment schedule. In the application for post-conviction relief, this bill requires the prisoner to state whether he/she has previously filed an application for post-conviction relief or a petition for habeas corpus in state court, relating to the sentence to which the prisoner is currently incarcerated. The bill further requires the applicant to attach a copy of his/her prison trust account balance sheet to the application.
The bill allows for sanctions for prisoners that bring frivolous actions for post-conviction relief. The bill requires the application for post-conviction relief to contain a provision informing the prisoner that a second or subsequent application for post-conviction relief determined to be frivolous may result in the prisoner's loss of work credits, education credits, and good time credits. The bill also provides that a prisoner who brings a frivolous action may be ordered to pay the attorneys fees and court costs of the opposing party under the South Carolina Frivolous Civil Proceedings Sanctions Act.
H.3487 UNIFORM TRUST CODE Rep. Sinclair
This bill pertains to trust administration. The bill enacts the Uniform Trust Code by providing a comprehensive codification or recodification of much of existing trust law and supplementing existing common law, unless the code specifically contradicts it. H.3489 NONPARTISAN COUNTY ELECTIONS Rep. Bales
The bill outlines procedures whereby the governing body of a county may be elected in nonpartisan elections. The bill applies to the following county offices: auditor, treasurer, clerk of court, probate judge, sheriff, coroner and register of mesne conveyance. H.3492 ELECTIONS BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY Rep. Young
This bill prohibits a nonjudicial candidate or a person holding an office elected by the General Assembly from attempting to influence the outcome of an election of another candidate for office elected by the General Assembly. A violation of this provision would be considered a misdemeanor punishable by a $1,000 fine or imprisonment for not more than 90 days. H.3494 THREATENING THE LIFE, PERSON, OR FAMILY OF A PUBLIC OFFICIAL, TEACHER OR PRINCIPAL Rep. J.E. Smith
This bill relates to the prohibition on threatening the life, person, or family of a public official, teacher or principal. Under the bill, it is unlawful to make either direct or indirect threats to these individuals. H.3495 PRESIDENTIAL PREFERENCE PRIMARIES Rep. J.E. Smith
Current law provides that political parties may conduct presidential preference primaries. Under this bill, the State Election Commission would conduct presidential preference primaries. H.3505 PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PERTAINING TO THE COMMISSIONER OF AGRICULTURE Rep. Hagood
The office of Commissioner of Agriculture is a position required by the State Constitution to be held by a duly elected individual. This joint resolution proposes to submit to the electors at the next general election whether or not the Commissioner of Agriculture should remain an elected position or rather be a position appointed by the Governor upon advice and consent of the Senate. H.3506 PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PERTAINING TO THE ADJUTANT GENERAL Rep. Hagood
The office of Adjutant General is a position required by the State Constitution to be held by a duly elected individual. This joint resolution proposes to submit to the electors at the next general election whether or not the Adjutant General should remain an elected position or rather be a position appointed by the Governor upon advice and consent of the Senate. H.3507 PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO PROVIDE FOR THE JOINT ELECTION OF THE GOVERNOR AND LIEUTENANT GOVERNOR Rep. Hagood
This joint resolution proposes to submit to the electors at the next general election whether or not the Lieutenant Governor must be elected jointly with the Governor. H.3509 TRAFFIC STOPS Rep. Ceips
This bill provides that the operator of a motor vehicle equipped with interior lights must activate the vehicle's interior lights and open the vehicle's front window when stopped by a law enforcement officer at night. The bill authorizes a $25 fine for violations. H.3518 PRIVACY FROM UNWANTED COMMERCIAL ELECTRONIC MAIL SOLICITATION Rep. J.E. Smith
The stated intent of this bill is to (1) find a balance between free speech and trade and a citizen's right to privacy, (2) and provide a citizen who does not wish to receive commercial email solicitations at home with a means of preventing those emails, while allowing a commercial solicitor to continue to email a citizen who does wish to receive that email at home. Among other things, the bill provides for a database constituting a "No Email List." The bill provides for specific contents of advertising messages in the subject portion of the messages. The bill authorizes the Attorney General and state's judicial circuit solicitors to investigate complaints. Penalties are established for violations. H.3519 DEPARTMENT OF REVENUE'S WAGE GARNISHMENT POWER Rep. J.E. Smith
This bill relates to the Department of Revenue's (DOR) authority to contract to collect outstanding liability owed to a governmental entity. The bill defines the term 'outstanding tax liability owed to the governmental entity.' The bill provides that DOR's power to garnish the wages of a delinquent taxpayer may only be used to collect an outstanding tax liability owed the governmental entity. H.3525 DUTY OF A MUNICIPALITY TO PROVIDE WATER OR SEWER SERVICES Rep. Chellis
Among other things, the stated intention of this bill is to clarify the General Assembly's intent that all inhabitants of a municipality are entitled to equal access to the governmental function of municipal water and sewer services without discretion. This bill requires a municipality to provide water or sewer services to a property owner upon written request when the property owner agrees to pay the cost of extending these services by the payment of an assessment levied against the property. H.3530 WORKING ON SUNDAYS AND "SUNDAY BLUE LAWS" Rep. E.H. Pitts
This bill relates to the right of an employee of a business to refuse to work on Sunday. The bill provides that an employee has the option of refusing to work on Sunday if the employee is conscientiously opposed to Sunday work.
The bill repeals what is popularly known as "Sunday Blue Laws," which relate to the prohibition against the sale of certain items on Sunday except during specified hours of operation. "Sunday Blue Laws" also prohibit the conduct of certain work or events or the operation of certain businesses or manufacturing establishments on Sunday. The bill does not affect the provisions of law prohibiting or otherwise regulating the sale of alcohol on Sunday.
The Legislative Update is on the Worldwide Web. Visit the South Carolina General Assembly Home Page (http://www.scstatehouse.net) and click on "Publications," then click on "Legislative Update." This will list all of the Legislative Updates by date. Click on the date you need.
NOTE: THE LEGISLATIVE UPDATE IS AVAILABLE TO LEGISLATIVE TRACKING SUBSCRIBERS. YOU MAY REGISTER FOR THIS FREE SERVICE ON THE SOUTH CAROLINA GENERAL ASSEMBLY HOME PAGE BY CLICKING ON "ELECTRONIC TRACKING" (UNDER "LEGISLATIVE RESOURCES"), THEN CLICKING ON "ADD NEW SUBSCRIPTION RECORD" AND COMPLETING THAT FORM.