For the third time this year, the subcommittee I chair will take testimony regarding DHEC’s request to increase the state’s Radioactive Material License Fees.

The meeting is this Wednesday at 9:00 a.m.

This time, they’r bringing in the big guns…the Feds….from DC!

Earlier this year, I wrote about this particular issue as it’s one of many FEE REQUESTS that will be coming through my subcommitee this year.

To give you a very quick, simple background, here’s the situation: SC is one of several agreement states that monitor these sorts of activities instead of having the federal government come monitor the program. DHEC has been using “one time money” to run the program for years and now needs to double the total amount of fees the program brings in to the state in order to successfully continue the program. Their testimony says that without the approval of these fee increases, the state is in jeopardy of losing our “agreement status” and that the federal government could step in and when they do, the fees are double what DHEC is currently proposing.

These fees aren’t for things like the Barnwell Nuclear Site, to see the fee structure and the requested increase, click here.

My rationale for a “no” vote is that I feel either DHEC can find the money elsewhere in their budget and/or they can decide if this is one of the functions they need to perform instead of others for the state. Many of us cringe at the idea of “the feds” having to step-in but how close is that to happening? We hope to find out this week. I suspect (and have read) we’ll hear that a review will happen this year. Convenient timing for the fee request, huh?

The subcommittee (by a 3-2 vote) has already given a favorable recommendation to the full-committee; but we wanted to hear more before sending the issue to the full floor. Seeing regulatory fees debated on the full floor of the House is an unusual procedure; but one I will push for if we indeed decide to pass an increase this year. Many people aren’t aware that Regulations simply “time out” if no action is taken to stop them. To stop it, you have to kill it. Adjourning debate will simply allow the regulation to “time out” and that means it goes into effect. (Unlike laws/legislation where adjourning debate basically is a way of killing those items). Basically, the default on regulations is they almost always go into effect and only a few legislators are ever aware of it happening.

It’s my intention that we should not allow any increases to be determined by only 20 members of the House. If we can’t kill a fee increases OR if we agree there might should be a fee increase this year, it’s my belief the debate should go before the entire House so that all 124 members can vote as they feel their constituents would want them to.

For a list of pending regulations before the General Assembly, click here. Also, for a bill that can make the process of “full House debate” the normal practice, read Representative Bedingfield’s bill here.