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.
Current law provides liability among joint tortfeasors (wrongdoers) 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 House, in an action for personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death, the liability of each defendant is several only and may not be joint. The burden of alleging and proving fault is upon the person who seeks to establish fault. At any time after such an action is commenced and until 120 days following the service of the summons and complaint, a defendant may join as a co-defendant to the action any person who may be liable to the plaintiff for personal injury, property damage, or wrongful death as alleged in the plaintiff's complaint. During this 120-day period all applicable statute of limitations are tolled. Each defendant is liable only for the amount of damages allocated to that defendant in direct proportion to that defendant's percentage of fault, and a separate judgment must be rendered against the defendant for that amount. The bill further provides that joint liability must be imposed on all who consciously and deliberately pursue a common plan or scheme to commit a tortious act, or actively take part in it or any person or entity vicariously liable for the act of another. A person held jointly liable has a right of contribution from his/her fellow defendants acting in concert.
This bill 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 House lowers the statute of repose to eight years.
The legislation as passed by the House 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 corporations, the legislation establishes criteria for determining a principal place of business; in considering the proper place for venue, the bill provides that owning property and transacting business in a county is insufficient in and of itself to establish the principal place of business for a corporation. With regards to venue, the legislation provides as follows:
As passed by the House, the legislation repeals some current law (specifically: S.C. Code Ann. §15-36-20 through 15-36-50) and establishes new provisions regarding frivolous lawsuits. The legislation as passed by the House provides that a pleading must be signed by at least one attorney of record, or, if the party is not represented by an attorney (a pro se party), the pro se 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 or pro se litigant 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 House approved and sent to the Senate H.3193, a bill which provides that a TECHNICAL EDUCATION INSTITUTION UNDER THE CONTROL OF THE STATE BOARD FOR TECHNICAL AND COMPREHENSIVE EDUCATION MAY CHANGE ITS NAME upon a majority vote of the area commission of the institution. The House approved and sent to the Senate H.3126, a bill that ELIMINATES THE REQUIREMENT FOR A VEHICLE OWNER TO SIGN THE VEHICLE'S REGISTRATION CARD, and deletes the penalty for failure to sign this card. The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.3250, a bill pertaining to CONTACT LENSES. This bill provides that it is illegal to dispense contact lenses without a valid prescription from an optometrist or an ophthalmologist. The bill applies only to contact lenses and not to lenses used in glasses. Dispensing contact lenses without a valid prescription is subject to a civil penalty of up to $5,000 per violation. This provision is to be enforced by the Department of Consumer Affairs. 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 House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.3372. This bill INCREASES THE CATCH LIMIT FOR THE SALTWATER FISH RED DRUM from two to three in any one day.
The full Committee did not meet this week.
The full Committee did not meet this week.
The full Committee did not meet this week.
The full Committee did not meet this week.
The full Committee did not meet this week.
Current law provides that wholesalers handling eggs must be licensed by the Department of Agriculture (the Department). Under this bill, all wholesalers, distributors, commission merchants, brokers and dealers who desire to offer eggs for sale must file for a license with the Commissioner of Agriculture (the Commissioner). The bill further provides that a person may not engage in business as a wholesaler or as a distributor without first obtaining a license.
The bill requires wholesalers, distributors and retailers to maintain records of their invoices of their egg purchases for at least 90 days. The bill authorizes the Commissioner or his designee to enter, during regular business hours, the place of any producer, wholesaler, retailer, retail establishment, institution, institutional user, warehouse, cold storage house, or other storage places, trucks or carriers where eggs are stored and inspected.
The bill requires shell egg producers to refrigerate eggs upon gathering the eggs. Eggs must be graded and packed within a reasonable period of time from gathering. The bill requires that eggs be transported, stored and displayed at ambient temperatures to not exceed 45 degrees Fahrenheit until sold at retail or used. The bill makes it unlawful to offer eggs for sale that are not being properly stored in a refrigerated state at the proper temperature.
The bill requires the Department to establish standards for the grading, classification and marking of shell eggs bought and sold in South Carolina. Standards must conform to the minimum federal standards.
The bill requires labeling to occur at the time of packing and candling of each case of eggs. The bill prohibits the use of abbreviations of any words in the classification or in designating the grade and size of the eggs. The wording must be in English on the labels. The bill requires that all eggs offered for sale at retail in open cases, boxes or other containers from which eggs are sold in bulk must also be properly classified. The bill details requirements for the placard.
H.3540 HARVESTING AND MARKETING OF DIAMOND BACK TERRAPIN Rep. Altman
S.C. Code Ann. §50-5-2300 authorizes the Department of Natural Resources (DOR) to grant permits to harvest and market Diamond Back terrapin; this particular statute also allows DOR to condition the permits to set seasons, size limits, bag limits, areas, fishing times, and equipment restrictions regarding such harvesting. This legislation repeals S.C. Code Ann. §50-5-2300. H.3556 HARVESTING AND MARKETING OF DIAMOND BACK TERRAPIN Rep. Altman
S.C. Code Ann. §50-5-2300 authorizes the Department of Natural Resources (DOR) to grant permits to harvest and market Diamond Back terrapin; this particular statute also allows DOR to condition the permits to set seasons, size limits, bag limits, areas, fishing times, and equipment restrictions regarding such harvesting. This legislation repeals S.C. Code Ann. §50-5-2300. H.3572 FISHING PERMITS FOR STRIPED BASS, HYBRID STRIPED BASS, BROOK TROUT, BROWN TROUT, RAINBOW TROUT AND SMALL MOUTH BASS Rep. Sandifer
This bill provides that it is unlawful for a person to take striped bass, hybrid striped bass, brook trout, brown trout, rainbow trout, or small mouth bass in the waters of this State without first procuring a state fisheries hatchery permit. The bill requires that a person have a valid permit in his/her possession while fishing or transporting these particular types of fish. Violations of this provision are considered misdemeanors. The bill provides that the fee for the license is five dollars and fifty cents; the bill outlines use of proceeds from the permits. H.3577 PESTICIDE REGISTRATION FEES Rep. Witherspoon
This bill increases the basic annual pesticide registration fee from $100 dollars to $175 dollars for each product registered. The bill provides that this fee may not be increased unless the General Assembly by law authorizes the State Crop Pest Commission to increase this fee by regulation and such a regulation is promulgated and adopted. The bill further provides that this fee must be used to support the general regulatory enforcement and education programs of the Division of Regulatory and Public Service. H.3578 AMENDMENTS TO THE SOUTH CAROLINA FERTILIZER LAW OF 1954 Rep. Witherspoon
The bill revises the definition of the term 'soil amendment' as used in the South Carolina Fertilizer Law of 1954. The bill also permits the State Crop Pest Commission to require proof of claims made for any fertilizer.
With regards to an inspection tax and tonnage reports pertaining to commercial fertilizers, the bill increases the inspection tax from 25¢ to 50¢ for each ton of commercial fertilizer sold. Current law requires that a report of tonnage is due and the inspection payable monthly on the 15th day of the following month. The bill provides that the report of tonnage is due and the inspection payable quarterly and that the report is due within 30 days following the end of each quarter. If the tonnage report is not filed and the payment of the inspection fee is not made within 30 days after the due date, then the registration of the commercial fertilizer registered by the delinquent guarantor is automatically cancelled.
H.3579 AMENDMENTS PERTAINING TO THE STATE CROP PEST COMMISSION Rep. Witherspoon
This bill clarifies that any person subject to the jurisdiction of the State Crop Pest Commission may be subject to civil penalties from the Commission. The bill also provides that the Commission has the authority to issue and enforce written stop sale, use or distribution orders to persons selling, distributing or growing plant material in violation of the law.
The bill requires citizens of an area seeking municipal incorporation to file an application with the Secretary of State setting out certain required information. Among other things, this bill establishes a Joint Legislative Committee on Municipal Incorporation. The purpose of this joint committee is to review the filing of an area seeking incorporation and to make recommendations to Secretary of State as to whether or not minimum service standards for municipal incorporation are met. The bill requires the joint committee to render a written opinion and that the Secretary of State must provide the applicants with a copy of the joint committee's written decision.
This bill revises the current definition of the term 'contiguous.' Under this bill, contiguous means adjacent properties that share a continuous border. The bill also provides if a publicly owned property intervenes between two areas proposed to be incorporated that, but for the intervening publicly owned property would be adjacent and share a continuous border, the intervening publicly owned property does not destroy contiguity.
Current law sets out limitations for incorporation when the area to be incorporated is within five miles of the boundary of an active incorporated municipality. Current law provides that the five-mile limit does not apply when the population of the area seeking incorporation exceeds 15,000 persons. This bill lowers the threshold population amount for the five-mile limit not to apply from 15,000 persons to 7,000 persons. Current law provides that another exception to the five-mile limit is when the area seeking incorporation has petitioned the nearest incorporated municipality to be annexed and has been refused annexation for six months. This bill requires that a refusal to annex the area by the municipality includes a statement from the municipality that the area does not meet the statutory requirements for annexation.
H.3537 AMENDMENTS TO THE SOUTH CAROLINA TORT CLAIMS ACT Rep. J.E. Smith
The bill includes members of the South Carolina National Guard and members of the South Carolina State Guard as employees that are covered under the South Carolina Tort Claims Act.
The bill further provides that an employee for purposes of the South Carolina Tort Claims Act includes persons acting on behalf or in service of a governmental unit without pay or compensation.
The bill also amends S.C. Code Ann. §15-78-60, which relates to exemptions to the waiver of immunity in the State Tort Claims Act, so as to include certain home security and counter-terrorist activities in the exemption relating to activities of the South Carolina National Guard and the South Carolina State Guard.
H.3538 WARRANTS FOR LITTERING Rep. J.E. Smith
This bill provides that a person who witnesses littering may swear out a warrant in an appropriate court to initiate the prosecution of the offender. H.3539 INDIGENT DEFENSE Rep. Wilkins
Currently there is a Commission and Office of Indigent Defense as well as a separate Commission and Office of Appellate Defense. The bill provides that all of the allied, advisory, affiliated, or related entities as well as the employees, funds, property, and all contractual rights and obligations associated with the Commission and Office of Appellate Defense are transferred to and incorporated in and must be administered as a part of the Commission and Office of Indigent Defense.
Current law provides that the Commission on Indigent Defense is comprised of seven members appointed by the Governor on the recommendation of the South Carolina Public Defender Association. The bill increases membership on the Commission from seven members to 15 members. The bill further provides and makes changes regarding how members are recommended to serve on the Commission.
Among other things, the bill provides that the Commission shall cooperate and consult with state agencies, professional associations, and other groups concerning the causes of criminal conduct, the rehabilitation and correction of persons charged with and convicted of crimes, the administration of criminal justice and the improvement and expansion of defender services.
Current law provides that an executive director must administer the Office of Indigent Defense. The bill outlines specific duties of the executive director, which include maintaining records and coordination of services. The bill requires the Division of Appellate Defense to be administered by a chief attorney and outlines the duties of the Division.
H.3543 "MARY LYNN'S LAW" Rep. G.M. Smith
This bill enacts "Mary Lynn's Law." This bill makes revisions with regards to victim notification as well as revisions pertaining to certain criminal offenses, including stalking and harassment.
This bill provides that a person with a current charge or a prior conviction for a violent offense, a harassment or stalking offense, or a burglary offense or a person subject to a restraining order or valid order of protection may not be considered for a diversion program such as pre-trial intervention, drug court, or mental health court. This bill prohibits those offenders convicted of a violent offense, a harassment or stalking offense, and/or a burglary offense from participating in work release.
With regards to victim notification for certain criminal proceedings, this bill provides that victim notification may not be by electronic or other automated communication or recording.
This bill makes various amendments pertaining to the criminal offense of stalking and harassment. The bill redefines the criminal offense of stalking and harassment as well as revises the penalties for stalking and harassment. The bill requires that when a restraining order is issued as a condition of bond for harassment or stalking, a copy of the restraining order must be sent by the court to the victim. This bill requires that a mental evaluation must be made before bail is set on a stalking or harassment charge. The bill requires that the evaluation be scheduled within 10 days of the order's issuance and that the report be issued within 48 hours of evaluation. The bill requires the solicitor to arrange for a bond hearing upon receipt of the report before a circuit court judge.
This bill provides that a temporary restraining order granted without notice must be entered of record with the magistrate court. The bill provides that the duration of a temporary restraining order is extended from six months to one year.
This bill allows law enforcement or another person to sign a warrant for a person engaged in harassment or stalking in place of the victim. The bill also allows for service of a restraining order to be made by mail return receipt to the defendant's last known address.
With regards to a change of address listed on a driver's license, this bill requires proof of address for the change to be made and provides examples of sufficient proof.
H.3570 AMENDMENTS TO FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT Rep. Simrill
Current law provides that certain records of a public body must be made available for public inspection and coping during the hours of operations of the public body without the individual being required to make a written request to inspect or copy the records when the individual appears in person. This bill amends this particular provision and requires requests for information to be in writing.
This bill also provides that documents and other information containing disciplinary actions taken against an employee of a public body are exempt from disclosure for purposes of the Freedom of Information Act.
H.3588 COMMON LAW MARRIAGE Rep. Whipper
This bill provides that a common law marriage in this State may not be recognized on and after January 1, 2006. Exceptions are provided for common law marriages existing as of December 31, 2005. The bill repeals current law relating to the validity of a marriage contracted without the issuance of a license. H.3590 VOTING MACHINE REQUIREMENTS Rep, Rutherford
This bill requires all electronic voting machines to print out a receipt showing how the voter cast his/her vote, and the voter must deposit the receipt in a receptacle. In the event there is a recount, the receipts will be used to verify the vote tally. H.3593 ESTABLISHMENT OF THE MISDEMEANOR CRIMINAL OFFENSE OF DEATH BY A VEHICLE AND CHEMICAL BLOOD TESTS FOR DRIVERS INVOLVED IN A FATAL VEHICLE ACCIDENT Rep. Walker
This bill establishes the misdemeanor offense of death by a vehicle. The offense would be applicable when death is proximately caused through the use or operation of a vehicle, and the driver of the vehicle was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol. The maximum sentence for the offense is three years imprisonment and a fine of not more than $1,000 dollars.
This bill provides that a driver of a vehicle involved in a fatal motor vehicle accident must submit to a chemical blood test of the driver's breath to determine the presence of alcohol, if there are reasonable grounds to believe that the driver is under the influence of alcohol to the extent that the driver's faculties to drive are materially and appreciably impaired. There are provisions outlining when the law enforcement officer requesting the test may be the one to administer the test. The administration of one test does not preclude the administration of other tests. A driver has the right to have additional tests conducted at his/her own expense and must be advised of this right and provided affirmative assistance by law enforcement. However, the driver's request or failure to request an additional test is not admissible against the person in a criminal trial. Also, failure by law enforcement to provide affirmative assistance (which as a minimum includes providing transportation for the person to the nearest medical facility which provides blood tests to determine a person's alcohol concentration) bars the admissibility of the breath test result in any judicial or administrative proceeding.
The bill requires written notification of certain rights and information be provided to the driver before any test is administered or samples obtained. The driver must be provided with a written report containing, among other things, the test results. Any person that obtains additional tests must furnish certain information about the tests to the officer before any proceeding in which the person attempts to use the additional tests as evidence.
Failure to submit to a breath test results in a suspension of driving privileges for 30 days; drivers must be advised of their right to an administrative hearing. The bill requires the administrative hearing to be held within 30 days of the request for the hearing. The bill provides that an administrative hearing is a contested proceeding under the Administrative Procedures Act.
H.3594 TERMS OF COUNTY OFFICERS Rep. Hagood
This bill provides that the terms of office of various county officers is four years and begins at noon on the first Tuesday in January following the November general election and ends at noon on the first Tuesday in January following the November general election four years later. These provisions apply to those officers whose terms of office are not otherwise set by another provision of law.
The bill authorizes these corporations to raise funds and provide services, if retained funds are used for unit support or charitable purposes. The bill allows for the use of armory or national guard facilities, if there is no cost to the government. The bill provides that the Adjutant General and the Secretary of State shall coordinate provisions to standardize applications for incorporation. No incorporation may be made without the approval of the Adjutant General and the State Judge Advocate. Accounts and documents of the organizations are subject to review by the Adjutant General
H.3566 EMERGENCY ROOM CARE Rep. Bailey
When a patient is discharged from a hospital emergency room, this bill provides that the hospital in addition to providing a patient with a written prescription for any needed medication, shall also give the patient the option of receiving a 72-hour supply of the medication. H.3582 AMENDMENTS TO THE LEAD POISONING PREVENTION AND CONTROL ACT Rep. McLeod
This bill renames the 'Lead Poisoning Prevention and Control Act' to the 'Childhood Lead Poisoning Prevention Control Act.' This bill makes revisions to clarify that this particular piece of legislation addresses circumstances relating to children and lead poisoning.
The bill further specifies surfaces in a dwelling or facility that may contain a lead-based hazard. The bill updates requirements for education and public awareness programs, investigations and recordkeeping.
The bill revises procedures for the issuance and execution of an administrative warrant to investigate lead-based hazards. Under the bill, probable cause exists for a warrant when the circumstances indicate there is reason to believe a child has been exposed or is at risk of being exposed to a lead-based hazard at the premises specified in the warrant. The bill requires the warrant to be executed and returned within 10 days of the date of issuance.
The bill requires laboratories to report to the Department of Health and Environmental Control results of any blood lead analyses conducted on children under the age of six.
The bill deletes certain obsolete provisions. The bill revises criminal penalties as well as provides for civil fines not to exceed $1,000 dollars per day.
H.3591 REGULATION OF SALE OF PSEUDOEPHEDRINE Rep. Brady
Pseudephedrine is an over-the-counter nasal decongestant that is used in the illegal manufacturing of methamphetamine. Under this bill, any compound containing pseudephedrine would be considered a Schedule V controlled substance. Under this bill, only a licensed pharmacist or licensed pharmacist technician could dispense compounds containing pseudephedrine. The bill requires a picture identification to purchase such compounds as well as limits the amount of the compound that may be purchased in a 30 day time period.
The bill provides that any compounds, mixtures, or preparations which are liquid, liquid capsule or gel capsule form and which pseudephedrine is not the only active ingredient are not Schedule V controlled substances. The bill also authorizes the Director of the Department of Health and Environmental Control to exempt other products from this schedule if the director finds the products are not used in the illegal manufacture of methamphetamine or other controlled dangerous substances.
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