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SC Public Policy Update - March 16, 2015

After a long week of debate, the House adopted its version of the budget last Thursday night and the Senate spent last week working through their Calendar, carrying over the majority of bills on the uncontested calendar...

March 16, 2015

What's New

After a long week of debate, the House adopted its version of the budget last Thursday night. The Budget included $7 billion in spending. However, a proposal to borrow $500 million for building projects was defeated, after Governor Haley and public interest groups publicly opposed the plan.

Representative Jimmy Merrill (R-Charleston) offered an amendment to remove the funding from the Commission on Higher Education (CHE) and move it to the Treasurer’s Office. This amendment was adopted. House members also spent a lot of time discussing the need for establishing a Board of Regents for the State.

Representative Brian White (R-Anderson) and others offered an amendment to create the SC State Interim Governing Authority. The amendment provides that each member of the Budget and Control Board would appoint a member to the governing authority to oversee SC State University.

Representative Josh Putnam (R-Anderson/Greenville) offered an amendment taking $50 million from the Department of Revenue and giving it to the Department of Transportation. The money will be to leverage approximately $500 million for surface infrastructure improvements.

The Senate spent last week working through their Calendar, carrying over the majority of bills on the uncontested calendar. They spent considerable time discussing, S.179, a bill related to the regulation of powered alcohol.

The Senate Finance Transportation met to discuss transportation funding proposals. They will continue meeting in the weeks ahead.

Senator Peeler introduced S.550 on Wednesday. The bill proposes taking Public Health from the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) and places it with the Department of Mental Health and the Department of Alcohol and Drug Abuse Services. This new cabinet-level agency would be called the Department of Behavioral and Public Health. The Environmental portion of the department would be moved into the Department of Agriculture. The bill was referred to the Senate Medical Affairs committee. 

Top News Articles

S.C. House moves to defund Commission on Higher Education
Angered by higher college costs and the implosion of S.C. State University, the S.C. House voted Monday to defund the agency that oversees S.C. colleges.

Palmetto Sunrise: Not-so-boring first day of budget in S.C. House
For awhile there, the South Carolina House was having a bland Day One of its budget week. Then Gov. Nikki Haley took to Facebook to denounce the House for failing to vote on the multitude of sections in the budget by “roll call,” where all 124 members have the chance to vote “yes” or “no.”

Ben Carson coming to SC Freedom Summit in May
Another Republican presidential hopeful, Dr. Ben Carson, is coming to Citizens United's South Carolina Freedom Summit on May 9 in Greenville. Read more.

Video: Mercedes announces new Lowcountry plant
Mercedes-Benz Vans announced plans to create 1,300 jobs and invest about $500 million to build a new van manufacturing plant in North Charleston. The head of Mercedes-Benz Vans and Gov. Nikki Haley were among the officials talking about the plans. Read more.

Amazon to add as many as 500 jobs
Online retailer Amazon is ready to add 500 jobs in coming months at its distribution center near Cayce, some Midlands business and political leaders said Monday. Read more.

SC House approves ousting SC State trustees
The S.C. House voted Tuesday to oust S.C. State University’s trustees. Read more.

BP oil spill film used to fight SC drilling as business leaders counterpunch
Boosters of drilling for gas and oil along the South Carolina coast are punching back at a sustained effort by environmental groups to influence public opinion against a proposal that could allow offshore drilling. Read more.

Obamacare insurance enrollment tops 200,000 in SC
More than 210,000 people in South Carolina selected plans or were reenrolled in the federal health insurance marketplace in the enrollment cycle that ended Feb. 15, according to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Read more.

SC POLITICS: Pleicones unopposed for short term at SC chief justice
S.C. Supreme Court Associate Justice Costa Pleicones appears on his way to a short term as the state’s chief justice. Read more.

SC House votes to study state employee salaries
The South Carolina House has approved studying state employees' salaries, with legislators of both parties saying some are paid far too little.

DHEC split between new health agency, Agriculture Department under proposal
A bill introduced Wednesday would split up South Carolina’s environmental and health agency.

SC House could cut in half proposal to borrow; Democrat rips Haley as ‘selfish, vindictive narcissist’
House members are looking at cutting almost in half a proposal to borrow nearly $500 million for higher education, job training and economic development projects. 

SC colleges would have to help lower textbook costs under new bill
A Senate bill introduced Tuesday would have S.C. public colleges supply advice to students and professors on how to save money on textbooks.

Bill to bar regulation of Uber debated by SC Senate panel
Senators debated a broad bill Wednesday to not regulate Uber and other such taxicab-like companies, but focused on whether the state should require additional insurance coverage. Read more.

SC House kills borrowing package amid chaotic budget week
The South Carolina House approved its $7 billion spending plan for state taxes late Thursday after killing a proposal to borrow $500 million for building projects statewide.

Hillary Clinton’s Enemy No. 1
It’s late Wednesday afternoon, the day after Hillary Clinton’s defiant I’m-telling-you-this-and-nothing-more news conference at the United Nations and Trey Gowdy — who’s now seen as her No. 1 antagonist on Benghazi — is all over the news up in Washington. Read more.

Offshore drilling debate comes to Lowcountry
It was a big day for both sides of the energy debate Wednesday as more than 200 interested citizens took part in the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management (BOEM) open house in Mount Pleasant.

Meetings and Events

Tuesday, March 17
5:30   Reception honoring Senator Larry A. Martin
           Nexsen Pruet, 1230 Main Street

Wednesday, March 18
5:30   Reception honoring Senators Kent M. Williams and Ronnie A. Sabb
           Inn at USC, 1619 Pendleton Street

5:30   Reception honoring Representatives Todd Rutherford and Mia McLeod
           with special guest former U.S. Senator Jim Webb (D-Virginia)
           Pearlz Oyster Bar - Upstairs, 936 Gervais Street

Newly Introduced Legislation

EDUCATION:
S.528 Setzler:SO AS TO PROVIDE A TEXTBOOK POLICY FOR PUBLIC INSTITUTIONS OF HIGHER EDUCATION THAT IS INTENDED TO HELP MINIMIZE COLLEGE TEXTBOOK COSTS

GOVERNMENT:
S.545 Hutto: TO ADD EXCLUSIONS FOR PROCUREMENTS OR CONTRACTS WHICH ARE VALUED AT LESS THAN TEN THOUSAND DOLLARS, ENTERED INTO WITH A LOCAL, STATE, OR FEDERAL GOVERNMENTAL ENTITY OR AGENCY, OR ENTERED INTO BEFORE JANUARY 1, 2015
S.550 Peeler: RELATING TO THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL, SO AS TO RENAME THE CHAPTER THE "DEPARTMENT OF BEHAVIORAL AND PUBLIC HEALTH"

TAX/ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT:
S. 532 Coleman: RELATING TO TAX CREDITS FOR MAKING QUALIFIED REHABILITATION EXPENDITURES FOR CERTIFIED HISTORIC STRUCTURES



The Nexsen Pruet State House Update is published as a service to our attorneys, clients, and friends. It is intended to be a high level overview of the weekly activity at the South Carolina State House and does not constitute legal advice regarding any specific situation.

Firm clients who wish to receive individualized legislative updates, bill monitoring, or lobbying services may discuss options with Bob Coble. He can be reached at 803-253-8211 or bcoble@nexsenpruet.com.

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