LEGISLATIVE UPDATE : March 25-29, 2019
On The Floor:
CRUELTY TO ANIMALS — Cruel treatment of animals should be admonished and prevented. Senate Bill 105 sets clear standards and the education for how South Carolina views the ill treatment of animals. The bill provides that every four years magistrates and municipal court judges must receive at least two hours of instruction on issues concerning animal cruelty. The legal education must be determined by the South Carolina Court Administration at the direction of the Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court. To provide that it is unlawful to tether a dog in a manner in which the dog is unattended for more than sixty minutes without continuous access to sustenance and shelter; by means of choke collar, prong collar, logging chain or tow chain; if the dog is young than six months of age; and in a manner that limits reasonable access to usable space; and provides exceptions for use a tether in certain circumstances. To provide additional changes to the grants relating to spaying and neutering programs, veterinarian technician duties in an emergency or natural disaster, and shelter standards. The bill now heads to the House for further consideration.
BUSINESS SAFETY — Senate Bill 109 defines “electric fence” and sets the allowances for use of electric fences to protect businesses and industry. An “electric fence” means an electrified fence with a height not to exceed ten feet or two feet higher than the perimeter fence equipped with an energizer that does not exceed twelve volts DC. The charge produced must meet and not exceed the International Electrotechnical Commission Standard. No electric fence may be used without a surrounding non-electrical fence or wall not less than five feet high. Electric fences shall be permitted on property not zoned exclusively for residential use and must post ‘Warning — Electric Fence’ signs within intervals not more than sixty feet. Electric fence does not mean an electrified fence erected for agricultural or wildlife habitat management purposes. The bill now heads to the House for further consideration.
EFFICIENCIES IN LICENSING — Senate Bill 573 provides that the Board of Financial Institutions may participate in the Nationwide Multistate Licensing System, requiring check cashing business and deferred presentment lenders to fulfill their licensing paperwork requirements using the NMLS. The process shifts toward a fully electronic process resulting in faster turn-around times for licenses and greater efficiencies at the Board. All fees will be handled directly by the System for processing background and credit checks as well as collecting applications and providing documents to the Board. The bill now heads to the House for further consideration.
INSURANCE RATE INCREASE LIMITS — Senate Bill 579 passed this week clarifies that for automobile insurance, an insurer must wait six months before it can request an additional rate increase. Provisions align the number of increases with the average auto policy length of six months. The bill provides more flexibility to respond to market conditions. Nothing in the bill restricts the Director’s prerogative to review all filings and rates to see if rates are excessive, too low or unfairly discriminatory. The bill now heads to the House for further consideration.
LIFE AND HEALTH GUARANTY — Senate Bill 580 provides updates to the Life and Accident and Health Insurance Guaranty Association. Among the changes: add Health Maintenance Organizations to the association, to establish that assessments related to long-term care contracts will be split 50/50 between health insurers and life insurers, and to add language that spells out how reinsurance is handled during an insolvency or impairment. The bill also clarifies who can receive benefits from the association and the limits on those benefits. The bill now heads to the House for further consideration.
ADVERTISING ON COMMERCIAL BENCHES — A bill, S. 593, deletes the expiration date of permits to a regional transit authority or public transit operator to install and maintain benches upon which commercial advertisements are placed provided that each bench will be located on of the applicant’s bus stops, within the right-of-way of a public road a, and the applicant otherwise meets all relevant federal statutory and regulatory requirements. The bill heads to the House for further consideration.
INDUSTRIAL DEVELOPMENT BONDS — S.621 is a bill to amend the code relating to the issuance and refunding of bonds by the Jobs-Economic Development Authority to conform to recent finalized regulations promulgated by the U.S. Department of the Treasury that modify the requirements for public notice, public hearings, and approval of private activity bonds. These regulations are required as part of the Tax Equity and Fiscal Responsibility Act of 1982. A public hearing is held required to federal law to enable interest on such bonds to be excluded from gross income for federal tax purposes. Notice of a public hearing must be provided to the public and clerk of county council or municipal council. The bill heads to the House for further consideration.
FOOD DONATION CREDITS — Senate Bill 647 adds wild hogs to the eligibility for a nonrefundable tax credit for processing donated for charitable distribution and ensures that no portion of the wild hog may be used by a commercial enterprise. The amount of the credit is seventy-give dollars for each carcass processed and donated. The credit must be claimed in the year earned and may not be carried to any other taxable year. The bill now heads to the House for further consideration.
Senate Judiciary Committee:
S.17 – Certifying Coroner and Sheriff Candidates: A bill relating to the duties of the county boards of voter registration and elections are responsible for certifying that county’s candidates for country coroner and country sheriff.
S.180 – Drones Over Military Installations: A bill relating to trespasses and the unlawful use of the property of others. This states that it is unlawful to operate an unmanned aerial vehicle within a horizontal distance of five hundred feet or a vertical distance of two hundred fifty feet from the flight path of a federal military installation with restricted public access without written consent. Violation and conviction of not abiding will result in either a less than $500 fine, less than 30 days imprisonment, or both.
S.276 – Threatening with Dangerous Weapon: A bill to provide that it is unlawful for a person to threaten, solicit another to threaten, or conspire to threaten to cause damage, serious bodily injury, or death. This bill also provides it unlawful to cause damage to or destroy a building or other real or personal property by use of a dangerous weapon on any premises or property owned, operated, or controlled by any post-secondary institution, in a church, in any publicly owned building or recreational park areas or in a public gathering place. If this is violated, the person charged must undergo a mental health evaluation and, if necessary, mental health treatment or counselling.
S.342 – Alcohol Server Training: A bill to enact the “Responsible Alcohol Server Training Act” by implementing and enforcing mandatory alcohol server training and education programs to businesses to obtain alcohol server certificates. This requires servers of all alcoholic beverages for on-premises consumption in licensed or permitted businesses to obtain alcohol server certificates, and to require fees from providers of training programs and from applicants for alcohol server certificates. Training programs must only be either online or in the classroom. Topics covered in this bill include, but are not limited to, state laws regulation alcohol purchasing, liquor liability issues, impaired driving or driving under the influence, information on blood alcohol concentration and factors that change this, the effect alcohol has on the human body and human behavior, methods of refusing to serve or sell alcoholic beverage to individuals under twenty-one years of age and intoxicated individuals, methods for properly and effectively checking the identification of an individual, for identifying illegal identification, and life consequences, like losing education scholarships, relating to minors use.
S.480 – Fingerprint Background Checks: A bill relating to South Carolina Law Enforcement Division to provide that an agency authorized to conduct fingerprint background checks in this state may conduct a federal fingerprint review to provide that SLED, upon request, may submit the fingerprints collected by agencies to the Federal Bureau of Enforcement Division. SLED and the FBI may retain collected fingerprints and search any retained fingerprints later pursuant to an appropriate inquiry.
S.534 – Sheriff Qualifications: A bill to provide qualifications that a sheriffs and sheriff candidates must possess to serve as sheriff including, but not limited to, five years’ experience as Class 1 law enforcement officer, and have not been convicted of, pled guilty to, or pardoned for a felony or crime of moral turpitude in the State. Removes section relating to serving as summary court judge for at least ten years.
S.640 – Clerks of Court Reporting: A bill to provide that Magistrates shall report the disposition of each criminal case to the State law Enforcement Division within ten days, weekends and holidays excluded. Magistrates shall also report to SLED within 48 hours the issuance of any restraining orders, court orders of protection from domestic abuse act orders, any orders of state firearms prohibition and any orders that may prohibit a person from legally purchasing or possessing a firearm. Similar provisions are applicable to reporting by municipal judges and clerks of family court.
H.3483 – Coal Residuals: A bill to repeal Section 3 of Act 138 of 2016 relating to the automatic repeal of provisions requiring certain coal combustion residuals to be placed in a Class 3 landfill.
Senate Family and Veterans’ Services Committee:
S.595 – Childcare Facility Registry: A bill to prohibit a childcare facility from employing a caregiver or other staff that is registered or required to register on the National Sex Offender Registry, State Sex Offender Registry, or Central Registry, and State Child Abuse and Neglect Registry.
S.601 – Childcare Facility Background Checks: A bill to provide restrictions on foster care or adoption placements to add background check requirements from each employee of a residential facility where children in foster care may be placed. No child in custody of the Department of Social Services may be placed in a foster home, adoptive home or residential facility if the person has a substantiated history of child abuse or neglect or has pled guilty or nolo contendere or has been convicted to offenses outlined in the section.
Senate Education Committee:
S.15 – Financial Literacy: A bill to provide that beginning with the 2020-2021 School Year, each high school shall offer a one-half credit course in personal finance as an elective that students may use to complete graduation requirements. The curriculum shall incorporate competencies pursuant to Financial Literacy Instruction, and the Department of Education shall develop the curriculum for coursework before July 1, 2020.
H.3929 – Make Up Days: A joint resolution to provide that during the 2018-2019 school year, the State Board of Education may waive requirements for making up days beyond the three days that may be forgiven because of snow, extreme weather conditions or other disruptions requiring schools to close. The waivers may only be considered and granted upon requires of the local school board of trustees through a majority of the vote of that board.
For more questions on the above bills or additional legislation being considered by the Senate, please reach out! WE WANT TO HEAR FROM YOU.