South Carolina House of Representatives
Robert W. Harrell, Jr., Speaker of the House
OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND CONSTITUENT SERVICES
Room 212, Blatt Building, P.O. Box 11867, Columbia, S.C. 29211, (803) 734-3230
NOTE: THESE SUMMARIES 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. THEY 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.
A nine-member Department of Workforce Review Committee is created to perform oversight duties and to screen and nominate candidates for the positions of department director and members of the Department of Workforce Appellate Panel. The committee is composed of three of three members of the House of Representatives appointed by the Speaker, at least one of whom must be a member of the minority party; three members of the Senate appointed by the President pro Tempore, at least one of whom must be a member of the minority party; and, three members of the general public appointed by the Governor, one of whom must represent businesses with fewer than fifty employees and one of whom must represent businesses with fewer than five hundred employees. The committee is charged with screening candidates for the position of director to ensure that they meet the legislationís criteria for educational attainment and expertise and nominating three qualified candidate from whom the Governor is to select in making his appointment. The committee is also charged with oversight duties which include conducting annual performance reviews of the director and the Department of Workforce.
The legislation creates a Department of Workforce Appellate Panel with the sole purpose of hearing and deciding appeals from decisions of the Department of Workforceís divisions. Initially, the three sitting members of the South Carolina Employment Security Commission are to serve on the panel in an interim capacity. The members of the appellate panel must be elected by the General Assembly, in joint session, for four-year terms with initial elections to be held before May 22, 2010. Before an individual may be elected to the panel, he must be screened by the Department of Workforce Review Committee and found to possess the legislationís qualifications for educational attainment or pertinent expertise. A member General Assembly may not be elected to the panel while serving as a legislator or for two years following legislative service. Compensation for the panelists is to be set by the Agency Head Salary Commission.
The legislation transfers to the Department of Workforce the Workforce Investment Act program that has been assigned to the Department of Commerce through executive order.
H.3442 also provides for certain administrative changes to begin to remedy the insolvency of the Unemployment Insurance Trust Fund. The legislation provides that an insured worker is ineligible for unemployment compensation benefits if he has been discharged from work for gross misconduct. Gross misconduct includes such activities as: assault or battery on a fellow employee or customer; abuse of a patient or child under professional care; willful or reckless damage to employer property in excess of fifty dollars; theft of items valued in excess of fifty dollars; failure to comply with applicable state or federal drug and alcohol testing and use regulations; consumption of alcohol or drunkenness on the job in violation of a written workplace policy; insubordination; and willful neglect of duty. The legislation provides new requirements for an individual who has completed a temporary work assignment to contact his temporary employment agency regarding possible reassignment before he can be eligible to receive unemployment benefits.
The legislation creates the Workforce Initiative/Economic Development Research Committee to review and make recommendations regarding steps that should be taken to improve the economy of this State, the employment of South Carolinians, and to restore a substantially greater sense of financial security to the citizens of this State. The review must include an inventory of workforce training and recruitment programs and their adequacy towards meeting the needs of South Carolinaís businesses. In addition, the review and recommendations must place emphasis on the goal of matching unemployed citizens with jobs. The committee shall submit its report to the General Assembly and Governor before January 1, 2011, at which time it is abolished The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.4282, a bill PROHIBITING TEXT MESSAGING WHILE DRIVING. The legislation provides that a person may not use a text messaging device to read, or to manually write or send, a written communication, including a text message or electronic mail, while operating a motor vehicle in motion or in the travel portion of the roadway. This prohibition does not apply to: a motoristís use of a mobile communications device to report emergencies; the use of a device that is physically or electronically integrated into the vehicleís architecture; an authorized emergency vehicle; or the use of two-way mobile radio transmitters or receivers by licensees of the Federal Communications Commission in the amateur Radio Service when assisting with public safety, emergency, and disaster communications. A violator is guilty of a misdemeanor and is subject to a twenty-five dollar fine. The legislation provides for the division of fines collected with fifty percent distributed evenly among the stateís Level I trauma centers, twenty-five percent to the South Carolina State Trauma Care Fund to be used by the Department of Health and Environmental Control, and twenty-five percent to the Office of Highway Safety in the Department of Public Safety to fund highway safety education programs highlighting the dangers of distracted driving. A vehicle, driver, or occupant in a vehicle may not be searched, nor may consent to search be requested by a law enforcement officer, solely because of a text messaging violation. Neither a law enforcement agency nor the court may confiscate a text messaging device, mobile telephone, or any other wireless telecommunications device that was used in violation of this legislation. A law enforcement agency may not obtain telephone, cellular telephone, e-mail, text communication, or other electronic communications records, messages, or any data associated with a violation of this legislation as evidence to obtain a conviction. A violation may be introduced as evidence of comparative negligence in a civil action. The Department of Motor Vehicles may not report a violation to a driverís motor vehicle insurance carrier. The legislation establishes separate provisions PROHIBITING TEXT MESSAGING AND MOBILE TELEPHONE USE BY SCHOOL BUS DRIVERS. Under the legislation, a person may not use a text messaging device to manually write or send a text message; or a mobile telephone, radio or other communication device whether hands-free or otherwise; while operating a school bus in motion or in the travel portion of a roadway or while monitoring the loading and unloading of students. For a first offense resulting in no great bodily injury or death, a violator is guilty of a misdemeanor, must be fined two hundred and fifty dollars, have two points assessed against his driving record, and lose his school bus driverís certification for one year. For a second or subsequent offense or any offense resulting in great bodily injury or death, a violator is guilty of a misdemeanor and must be fined five hundred dollars. The violatorís school bus driverís certification must be revoked and the person becomes permanently ineligible to apply for certification. The violator shall have triple the points assessed against his driving record as are otherwise assessed. A violation may be introduced as evidence of comparative negligence in a civil action. The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3305, a PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT GUARANTEEING THE RIGHT TO USE SECRET BALLOTS IN LABOR ORGANIZATION VOTING, and enrolled the joint resolution for ratification. This joint resolution proposes to amend the South Carolina Constitution to provide that the fundamental right of an individual to vote by secret ballot is guaranteed for a designation, a selection, or an authorization for employee representation by a labor organization. The House appointed conference committees to address differences with the Senate on H.3396, a PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO INCREASE THE HOLDINGS REQUIREMENT OF THE GENERAL RESERVE FUND and H.3395, a bill to provide for the ENHANCEMENT OF THE GENERAL RESERVE FUND. The House approved and sent to the Senate H.3489, the "SOUTH CAROLINA FAIRNESS IN CIVIL JUSTICE ACT OF 2010" which contains numerous tort reform provisions. The legislation caps the award of punitive damages at three times "compensatory damages" or $350,000, whichever is higher. The limitation on punitive damages do not apply in situations involving: (1) intentional conduct; (2) conviction of a felony criminal charge in the course of conduct that gives rise to the damages; and 3) intoxication. The bill also establishes bifurcated trial on punitive before the same finder of fact; a "Clear and convincing" evidence standard for award of punitive; with eleven factors to be considered by the finder of fact in awarding punitive damages. Private Attorney Retention: the bill establishes the parameters under which the Attorney General or a Circuit Solicitor may retain outside counsel. The bill also sets up a sliding scale for contingent fee cases limiting the compensation to be received by the outside counsel based the amount of the award. All other proceeds are to be used for the State of South Carolina based on the Attorney General or Solicitorís judgment. The bill provides that outside counsel must provide the Attorney General or solicitor a detailed account of all work performed each month. In the case of contingent fee cases, outside counselís compensation, not including punitive or exemplary damages, there will be no more than certain enumerated percentages corresponding to the amount of judgment. The bill establishes in relation to punitive or exemplary damages, enumerated percentages. With regard to expenses and costs, outside counsel shall only be reimbursed for reasonable costs and expenses when expressly authorized by the Attorney General or solicitor. The bill adds a process by which a solicitor or the Attorney General may depart from the guidelines set forth in the section by publicly disclosing the reasons for the departure and that he determined departure was in the best interest of the state. The written result of this process is a matter of public record. The bill contains a Statute of Repose to assure that building code violations do not constitute per se fraud, gross negligence or recklessness but, such violations may be introduced as evidence of fraud, gross negligence, or recklessness. The bill contains provisions for an Appeal Bond. This section would limit the amount of an appeal bond that a court can order posted to the amount of the judgment or $25 million dollars for a larger business or $ 1 million for a small business or individual, whichever is less. (Small and large business are defined based on gross receipts and number of employees). The statutory prohibition on admissibility of failure to use a seat belt is repealed. This would subject this information to the normal rules of evidence during a trial. The House concurred in Senate amendments to S.424, a CONCURRENT RESOLUTION AFFIRMING THE RIGHTS OF SOUTH CAROLINA UNDER PROVISIONS OF THE UNITED STATES CONSTITUTION, and approved the resolution. The resolution provides that the General Assembly claims for the State of South Carolina sovereignty under the Tenth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States over all powers not otherwise enumerated and granted to the federal government by the United States Constitution. The resolution provides that it is the policy of the state that: no law shall interfere with the right of a person to be treated by or receive services from a health care provider of that personís choice; no law shall restrict a personís freedom of choice of private health care systems or private health care plans of any type; no law shall interfere with a personís or an entityís right to pay directly for lawful medical services; and no law shall impose a tax, penalty, or fine, of any type, for choosing a health care provider, to obtain or decline health care coverage or for participation in any particular health care system or plan. The resolution claims freedom from all laws and mandates that violate the rights granted under the Second, Ninth, and Tenth Amendments to the United States Constitution and serves as notice and demand to the federal government, as South Carolinaís agent, to cease and desist immediately all mandates that are beyond the scope of the federal governmentís constitutionally delegated powers. The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.4033, "TRANSPORTATION INFRASTRUCTURE FUNDING FLEXIBILITY ACT". The legislation establishes a mechanism that allows the Department of Transportation to solicit and enter into certain public-private initiatives to construct transportation facilities. An existing transportation facility may not be the subject of a public-private initiative. The House returned S.1096, a bill providing a mechanism for FINANCING RESIDENTIAL ENERGY EFFICIENCY AND CONSERVATION MEASURES, to the Senate with amendments. This bill provides electricity and natural gas providers the authority to finance the purchase price and installation cost of energy conservation measures for residential customers and recover this financing through charges paid for by the customers benefitting from the installation of the energy conservation measures. Before an electricity provider or natural gas provider may enter into a financing contract on a residence, an energy audit must be performed on the residence to demonstrate that energy savings can be expected from energy efficiency measures, such as weatherization and equipment upgrades. Should the residential customer agree to the installation of the of the efficiency measures, a second audit must be performed after the installation to show that energy savings have been realized. In order for electricity providers and natural gas providers to recover the costs, including financing costs, of the energy efficiency and conservation measures a separate meter conservation charge is placed on a customerís bill. The House approved and sent to the Senate H.3736, a bill revising the manner and CONDITIONS UNDER WHICH LABOR ORGANIZATION MEMBERSHIP DUES MAY BE DEDUCTED FROM WAGES. The legislation provides that it is unlawful to deduct from the wages, earnings, or compensation of an employee any union dues, fees, assessments, or other charges to be held for, transferred to, or paid over to a labor organization, unless the employee has first presented, and the employer has received, a signed written or electronic authorization for the deductions. This authorization may be revoked by the employee at any time by giving written or electronic notice of the revocation to the employer. Deductions for political activities or contributions shall not be deducted from the wages, earnings, or compensation of an employee. The House approved and sent to the Senate H.4551, a bill INCORPORATING PREPAID WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND VOICE OVER INTERNET PROTOCOL INTO THE 911 EMERGENCY CALLING SYSTEM provisions. The legislation imposes new fees upon prepaid wireless telecommunications and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) for the support of the 911 emergency calling system that are in keeping with the fees that users of traditional telephone services and mobile telecommunications plans have been paying for the support of the system. The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.4479. This bill includes detention officers within the category of LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICERS ELIGIBLE TO CLAIM THE EIGHT DOLLARS A DAY SUBSISTENCE ALLOWANCE INCOME TAX DEDUCTION. The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.3536, a bill revising QUALIFICATIONS OF CORONERS. The bill establishes the additional requirements of: at least three years of experience as a death investigator with a law enforcement agency, coroner, or medical examiner agency; two year associate degree and have two years of experience as a death investigator with a law enforcement agency, coroner, or medical examiner agency; or four year baccalaureate degree and have one year of experience as a death investigator with a law enforcement agency, coroner, or medical examiner agency. The bill further requires a candidate for coroner to file a sworn affidavit with the county executive committee of the person's political party under specified time frames. The bill provides for the filing of the affidavit by petition candidates, and it delineates the information that the affidavit must contain. The House approved and sent to the Senate H.3975, a bill providing an EXEMPTION FOR MILITARY MEMBERS FROM THE HUNTERíS EDUCATION COURSE REQUIREMENT. This bill exempts Armed Services personnel from taking the hunterís education course prior to receiving a South Carolina hunting license. This exemption is with the understanding that these persons can demonstrate that they received weapons training during their military career. The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.3996, a bill relating to the POINT SYSTEM FOR HUNTING AND FISHING VIOLATIONS. This bill outlines that the Department of Natural Resources shall deduct three accumulated points from a person's record upon a showing that the person successfully completed the departmentís instruction program. The bill also states conditions when a person is not eligible for point reduction. The House approved S.975, relating to the training of BIRD DOGS, and enrolled the bill for ratification. This bill outlines various birds that can be used for training bird dogs. The legislation defines "training birds" as pen raised quail, chukar, pheasant, Hungarian partridge, or any other upland game birds approved by the Department of Natural Resources. In addition, the bill provides for the use of training birds during the closed season. The House approved S.1043, regarding the FLOUNDER POPULATION STUDY PROGRAM, and enrolled the bill for ratification. This bill establishes the Flounder Population Study Program which will be administered by the Department of Natural Resources. The program shall study the effects of flounder catch limits and the prohibition of artificial illumination produced by motor fuel powered generators on flounder located in the waters of Pawleys Inlet. The bill provides that "gigging" means using a prong, spear or similar device, including a bow and arrow to spear a fish. The bill outlines the operation of the program and states that the program shall run for five years, beginning January 1, 2010 and ending June 30, 2014. The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.3913, legislation dealing with STRIPED BASS. This bill outlines that in the inshore waters and territorial sea, except for certain portions of the Savannah River, from June first through September thirtieth, it is unlawful to possess any striped bass (rockfish). Any striped bass taken must be returned immediately to the waters from where it came. It also outlines that from October first through May thirty-first in the inshore waters and the territorial sea, except for a certain portion of the Savannah River, it is unlawful to take or possess more than three striped bass per day; take any striped bass less than twenty-six inches in length or land any striped bass without the head and tail fin intact. The bill establishes seasonal creel and size limits for striped bass in certain freshwater bodies in the Lower Santee and Cooper Rivers. The Department of Natural Resources shall study the Lower Santee and Cooper River systems and make recommendations on any needed modification to the restrictions before January 1, 2015. The legislation provides that it is unlawful to take or possess more than two striped bass on all waters of Lake Russell from Lake Hartwell Dam and Lake Secession Dam, including all tributaries of Lake Russell. The legislation provides that it is unlawful to take and retain from all waters of Lake Russell from Lake Hartwell Dam and Lake Secession Dam, including its tributaries, more than one striped bass greater than thirty-four inches in length. The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.4015, relating to NONGAME GILL NET PROVISIONS. The legislation provides that along the Little Pee Dee River upstream of Punch Bowl Landing, no net may be set within seventy-five feet of a gill net previously set; drifted within seventy-five feet of another drifting net; or placed or set within seventy-five feet of the confluence of a tributary. The House did not concur in Senate amendments to S.328, regarding INOCULATING PETS AGAINST RABIES.
The Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee met on Wednesday, March 10, 2010. The following bills were addressed: The full committee gave approval to S.1043, regarding the FLOUNDER POPULATION STUDY PROGRAM. This bill establishes the Flounder Population Study Program which will be administered by the Department of Natural Resources. The program shall study the effects of flounder catch limits and the prohibition of artificial illumination produced by motor fuel powered generators on flounder located in the waters of Pawleys Inlet. The bill provides that "gigging" means using a prong, spear or similar device, including a bow and arrow to spear a fish. The bill outlines the operation of the program and states that the program shall run for five years, beginning January 1, 2010 and ending June 30, 2014. S.975, relating to the training of BIRD DOGS, was given a favorable recommendation from the full committee. This bill outlines various birds that can be used for training bird dogs. The legislation defines "training birds" as pen raised quail, chukar, pheasant, Hungarian partridge, or any other upland game birds approved by the Department of Natural Resources. In addition, the bill provides for the use of training birds during the closed season. The full committee gave approval to S.1127, which provides that the standard for DISSOLVED OXYGEN CONCENTRATION DEPRESSION is changed to 0.1 MG/L. This change effects how dissolved oxygen is measured.
The full committee did not meet this week.
The full committee did not meet this week.
The full House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee met on Thursday, March 11, and reported out two bills. The committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on S.1147, a bill INCORPORATING PREPAID WIRELESS TELECOMMUNICATIONS AND VOICE OVER INTERNET PROTOCOL INTO THE 911 EMERGENCY CALLING SYSTEM provisions. The legislation imposes new fees upon prepaid wireless telecommunications and Voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) for the support of the 911 emergency calling system that are in keeping with the fees that users of traditional telephone services and mobile telecommunications plans have been paying for the support of the system. The committee gave a report of favorable with amendments on H.4607, a bill relating to ADVERTISEMENTS FOR THE SALE OR LEASE OF MOTOR VEHICLES. This bill defines necessary terms and provides procedures that must be followed by motor vehicle dealers in advertisements made in the course of soliciting for the sale or lease of motor vehicles. The legislation establishes new requirements for the clear identification of vehicles advertised for sale or lease and for the way in which discounts, savings, and rebates are to be characterized in such advertisements. The bill revises provisions relating to administrative enforcement orders, so as to provide penalties for motor vehicle dealers who violate these advertisement provisions.
The full committee did not meet this week.
The full committee did not meet this week.
If a person affiliated with a public or private secondary school in an official capacity engages in sexual battery with a student enrolled in the school who is eighteen years of age or older and aggravated coercion or aggravated force is not used to accomplish the sexual battery, this bill provides that the person affiliated with the public or private secondary school in an official capacity is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than $500 or imprisoned for 30 days, or both.
These provisions do not apply if the person affiliated with a public or private secondary school in an official capacity is lawfully married to the student at the time of the act.
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