Caucus Report – End of Session

 CAUCUS AGENDA ITEMS

 H. 3375 – Lawsuit Abuse Reform

Signed by Governor (6/14)

Tort Reform is a top priority to further protect our state’s businesses from the threat of unjustified, debilitating lawsuits while preserving everyone’s access to our legal system.  Versions of this bill have now passed both the House and Senate.  If a compromise can be reached, meaningful Tort Reform stands a good chance of becoming law this year.

 H. 3779 – “Bill Wylie Entrepreneurship Act”

Passed the House (4/14). In Senate Finance Committee.

The House opened new avenues for funding for our state’s small businesses by passing new tax credits for “Angel” investors. The bill was one of the final projects former Greenville Rep. Bill Wylie was working on before his passing last fall, and the bill was renamed in his honor. The bill provides a tax credit for people who provide capital to specific types of small businesses in our state – including manufacturing, warehousing, wholesaling, and technology, among others. It specifically excludes investments in other businesses, such as construction, from claiming the credit. Angel investors can claim up to a $100,000 tax credit over 10 years, and only $5 million can be credited by the state each year to all Angel investors. 

 H. 3713 – “Point of Sale” Revisions

Signed by Governor (6/14)

This legislation amends the property tax relief act by exempting 25% of the fair market value of a 6% property when it sells. Per an advisory letter from the BEA, it is estimated that the 25% exemption of the fair market value of 6% property when it sells would reduce local property taxes by $11.2 million in a typical year. Of the $11.2 million: $6.3 million will come from school districts, $3.2 million comes from counties, and $1.7 million comes from to cities and special purpose districts. The legislation ensures improvements to properties will not activate ATIs and is applicable as of 1 Jan 2011.

 H. 3004 – On The Record Voting

Signed by Governor (4/12)

The legislation, titled the “Spending Accountability Act of 2011” amends state law to require roll call votes in both the House and Senate for each section of the General Appropriations Bill, and any bill when: the question is adoption of a Conference or Free Conference Report, the question is passage of a bill or joint resolution on second reading, either the House or the Senate agrees to the other body’s amendment; or a bill or joint resolution is amended and the question is passage of a bill on third reading. 

 H. 3185 – Higher Education Transparency

Passed by House (2/2). In Senate Education Committee.

The legislation requires all state Colleges and Universities to post a monthly registry of all expenditures and dollar amounts online, and prominently display the registry on their websites for the public to examine. 

 H. 3066 – Agency Restructuring

Passed by House (3/2). Senate Didn’t Approve Third Reading by (6/2)

This legislation creates a Department of Administration under the power of the Governor’s Office and moves many administrative functions from the Budget and Control Board to the new Department. The House version of the legislation moved five divisions of the Budget and Control Board to the new department: general services, employee insurance programs, the State Information Technology Division, procurement services, and the state energy office.  These offices provide administrative services, rather than providing services directly to the people of South Carolina. Legislation creating a Department of Administration was approved by the House in 2004, 2008, and 2009.

 H. 3368 – Spending Caps

Passed by the House (3/10). In Senate Finance Committee.

House Republicans passed spending caps for the eighth time since 1994. The legislation uses February 15, 2010 as the base and restricts future growth to the lesser of 6 percent growth, or population growth plus the Consumer Price Index.  In addition, the bill allows the General Assembly to declare an emergency and suspend the restrictions with a vote of two-thirds of those present. According to the most recent report from the National Conference of State Legislatures, 30 states operate under spending or revenue limits. The bill also creates a “Spending Limits Reserve Fund,” and requires funds in excess of the spending limit to be appropriated for, replenishing the General Reserve Fund, temporary tax reductions, infrastructure, school buildings, school buses, and then expenses for natural disasters.

 H. 4145 – Shortening the Legislative Session

Passed by House (5/5). In Senate Judiciary Committee.

The House approved legislation that will shorten the legislative session by a week – ending the session from the first Thursday in June to the last Thursday in May. The House has approved similar legislation at least five times since 1994.

 H. 3716 – Education Funding Reform

Passed by House (3/9). In Senate Finance Committee.

 This legislation takes important first steps toward reforming our antiquated, 30-year-old funding formula to make education funding more equitable and effective is a priority for our state.

H. 3003 – Voter ID

Signed by Governor (5/18)

For the last two years, the House Republicans have approved Voter ID – one of the top agenda items from the S.C. Republican Party platform.  The legislation requires voters to show government-issued picture identification (a driver’s license, passport, or military ID) to prove their identity when they vote. The fee for a state picture ID card is waived until the state can issue free voter registration cards with a photograph on them.

The goal of the House’s Voter ID bill has been to strip out all of the unrelated provisions that have bogged down the debate in the past. This bill is now about one thing and one thing only: showing a picture ID. This year, the House Republican Caucus stripped the legislation of all unrelated voting provisions – eliminating any language about early voting or absentee voting – that have stalled it in previous years.  Similar Voter ID laws in Georgia and Indiana have been upheld by the Department of Justice and the United States Supreme Court. 

 H. 3410 – Higher Education Efficiency Act

Passed by House (3/10). Wrapped into S. 172 and in Conference Committee.

 This legislation makes many reforms to how our state’s colleges and universities operate to streamline operations and make them more efficient and accountable.

 H. 3241 – Charter School Reform

Passed by House (2/24). Senate Gave Second Reading (6/1).

The House of Representatives approved new funding for the state’s public charter schools, helping push money to these innovative public schools as they provide choices for our state’s parents. Charter schools are public schools, and the charter schools affected by this bill are part of the state-sponsored charter school district. The district was created in 2005 by Republicans as a way to free charter schools from excessive burdens imposed by some local school districts. Charter schools are funded below the funding level of traditional public schools. The bill approved provides charter school students state funding to fill the funding gap that a lack of local funding leaves – despite the fact that these students move to public charter schools and are not educated by the traditional school districts. The legislation also creates a new ability for school districts to create their own charter schools.

 H. 3403 – “Born Alive” Legislation and Obamacare Abortion Opt-Out

Passed by House (3/30). In Senate Judiciary Committee.

 This legislation ensures that babies born alive after an attempted abortion procedure must be saved and that S.C. Doctors will not be mandated to perform abortions if required to by Obamacare.

 H. 3408 – Freedom of Conscience Act

Passed by House (3/30). In Senate Medical Affairs Committee.

 This legislation prohibits an employer from discriminating, demoting, suspending, disciplining, or discriminating against an employee who advises the employer that he or she refused to participate in certain research or medical procedures that he or she finds morally objectionable.

 H. 3507 – Repeal Amendment

Passed by House (2/16). In Senate Judiciary Committee subcommittee.

The Repeal Amendment would allow two-thirds of the legislatures of the states to repeal a federal law. Two-thirds (34) of U.S. states will have to approve similar resolutions to call for a Constitutional Convention and 38 states will have to ratify the amendment once proposed. Only 17 states are currently considering the resolution. Constitutional Amendments are very rare. Since Bill of Rights was ratified in 1791, only 17 amendments to the Constitution have been ratified in the last 220 years.

 H. 3419 – S.C. Taxpayer Fairness Act

Passed by the House (3/10). In Senate Finance Committee.

 This legislation expands and updates our state’s Taxpayer Bill of Rights to ensure law-abiding taxpayers are treated with respect and that government agencies enforce tax law in a fair manner.

 S. 20 – Strengthening Illegal Immigration

Signed by Governor (6/27)

The bill states that if a South Carolina law enforcement officer has reasonable suspicion that a person stopped, detained, or arrested is an illegal immigrant, the officer or his agency must verify the person’s residency. The bill also makes it illegal for an illegal immigrant to ask for work or attempt to ask for work. The House amended the bill makes it easier for the state to prosecute businesses that violate the 2008 Illegal Immigration reforms.

H. 3152 – Governor/Lt. Governor to Run on Same Ticket

Passed the House (3/3). In Senate Judiciary Committee.

This joint resolution will amend the state constitution to allow the Governor and Lieutenant Governor to run on the same ticket. This item has been approved several times by the House in the last decade.

 H. 3070 – Superintendent of Education Appointed by Governor

Passed the House (3/3). In Senate Judiciary Committee.

This joint resolution will amend the state constitution to allow the Governor to appoint the state Superintendent of Education. This item has also been approved several times by the House in the last decade.

 H. 3226 – Regulatory Reform

Passed the House (4/27). In Senate Judiciary Committee.

 This legislation requires an automatic vote of the House and the Senate to approve new regulations. Currently agency regulations are automatically approved unless the General Assembly takes specific action.­­­

H. 3700 – State Budget

Overrode Governor Vetoes (6/29)

 The General Assembly passed a $6 billion state general fund budget for 2011-2012. Highlights of the budget include:

  • The budget grew by a 2.18 percent – well below the House-proposed cap of CPI + Inflation.
  • According to the spending limits legislation (approved by the House earlier this year, but not considered by the Senate) the cap should be 4.83 percent.
  • $146 million was directed to unemployment debt repayment
  • Up to $261 million was set aside to fund increases to the General Reserve Fund five years early
  • $104.8 million was dedicated to an additional back-up reserve account
  • $198.6 million fully funded general obligation bond payments.
  • After that, the budget increased the public schools’ “Base Student Cost” by 16 percent, or $163 per student.
  • Prohibited spending general fund dollars for lobbying
  • Increased the number of state troopers
  • Directed money to the Commerce Department to bring new businesses to our state.
  • The total budget totals approximately $22 billion.
    • Approximately $8.4 billion is Federal money flowing straight to Medicaid, schools, and local governments.
    • Another $8 billion is “other money” – primarily money parents pay in college tuition directly to universities and gasoline tax money that is sent directly to the Department of Transportation for road maintenance and construction.

 – END –

Comment are closed.