(Published by the Office of Research of the House of Representatives)

March 9, 2012

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.4451, a bill PROHIBITING TEXTING WHILE DRIVING. The legislation provides that a person may not use an electronic communication device, such as a wireless telephone, personal digital assistant, text messaging device, or a portable computer, to compose, send, or read an electronic message, such as a text message, electronic mail, instant message, or a command to access an Internet site, while operating a motor vehicle on a roadway. The use of a global positioning system, navigation system or other device that is physically or electronically integrated into the motor vehicle is not a violation. The prohibition does not apply to a person operating a vehicle while: (1) off the traveled portion of the roadway; (2) using an electronic communication device in hands-free, voice-activated, or voice-operated mode; (3) activating or deactivating an electronic communications device or an internal feature or function of the device not associated with electronic messaging; (4) summoning medical or other emergency assistance; (5) an operator of a commercial motor vehicle reading a message displayed on a permanently installed communications device designed for a commercial motor vehicle with a screen that does not exceed ten inches tall by ten inches wide inside; (6) a law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician, or other public safety official while in the performance of the person’s official duties; or (7) the vehicle is stopped, parked, or not in motion. A person who violates the prohibition is guilty of a misdemeanor that carries a fine of up to one hundred fifty dollars. A conviction for a violation may not be reported to the offender’s motor vehicle insurer nor may it be included in the offender’s motor vehicle records maintained by the Department of Motor Vehicles or in the criminal records maintained by the State Law Enforcement Division. A violation is not negligence per se or contributory negligence, and is not admissible as evidence in a civil action. The legislation provides that a law enforcement officer may stop a driver for a violation only when he has probable cause that a violation has occurred based on his clear and unobstructed view of a driver or an occupant of the motor vehicle who is committing a violation. The legislation precludes law enforcement officers from searching a vehicle, driver, or occupant in a vehicle solely because of a violation of this prohibition and provides that information contained or stored in an electronic communications device is not subject to a search by a law enforcement officer without a search warrant. The legislation preempts local ordinances, regulations, and resolutions adopted by municipalities, counties, and other local government entities regarding persons using hand held and hands free wireless electronic communication devices while operating motor vehicles on the public streets and highways of this state.

The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.4721, the “BUSINESS FREEDOM TO CHOOSE ACT”. The legislation provides that any prior, existing, or future county ordinance that restricts or prohibits disposal of waste at any permitted solid waste management facility, regardless of location, or impedes the development or implementation of a public or private recycling program, regardless of location, is considered inconsistent with the provisions of the South Carolina Solid Waste Policy and Management Act. The legislation provides that a local government must not be held liable for any costs or damages resulting from operation of a privately owned or operated solid waste management facility solely on the basis that solid waste managed at the facility was generated within the jurisdiction of the local government. The legislation also provides that a solid waste management facility owned and operated by a local government or local governmental entity must not be required to accept solid waste generated outside the local government’s jurisdiction unless the governing body of the local government approves the acceptance of this waste by a two thirds vote of its elected members.

The House approved and sent to the Senate H.4710, a joint resolution to suspend the statutory requirement that ALTERATIONS TO STATE AID TO POLITICAL SUBDIVISIONS must be approved in separate legislation. Suspension of the requirement allows the general appropriation bill’s funding proposals for the Local Government Fund to depart from the statutory requirement of distributing 4.5 percent of the previous year’s state general fund amount to the counties and municipalities. The legislation also affords temporary financial flexibility by authorizing counties to transfer among appropriated state revenues as needed to ensure the delivery of services for the 2012 2013 fiscal year.

The House approved S.1196 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation officially designates the month of February of every year as AFRICAN AMERICAN HISTORY MONTH in South Carolina to emphasize the contributions of African Americans to the growth, development, culture, and institutions of the country.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3393 and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation revises provisions specifying PERSONS WHO MAY SERVE AS A DECEDENT’S AGENT TO AUTHORIZE CREMATION, so as to further provide for those persons who, in order of priority, may authorize cremation.

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H.3711, a bill relating to an EXEMPTION FROM MOTOR CLUB SERVICES ACT REQUIREMENTS for in-vehicle security navigational, communications, and remote diagnostics services, and enrolled the bill for ratification. This bill provides that an entity that enters into a service contract with a club licensed under the Motor Club Services Act for the provision of emergency road service and towing service to its customers is not, itself, considered to be a motor club subject to the requirements of the Motor Club Services Act.

The House approved and sent to the Senate H.4517, a bill that provides for the international symbol of access wheelchair logo to be included on the WORLD WAR II SPECIAL LICENSE PLATE for individuals who qualify to be issued this license plate and a handicapped parking placard.

The House approved and sent to the Senate H.4582, a bill authorizing the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue DEALER LICENSE PLATES FOR THE UNITED SERVICE ORGANIZATION SOUTH CAROLINA AND THE AMERICAN RED CROSS.

The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.4801. This bill revises the qualifications of persons who may be appointed to the governing board of the PIONEER RURAL WATER DISTRICT of Oconee and Anderson Counties and the manner of their appointment. The legislation also provides that the district must not contract for or undertake the construction of any new freshwater treatment facilities until January 31, 2016.