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

May 11, 2012

The House of Representatives amended and returned to the Senate S.1031, a bill imposing new requirements relating to DEMOLISHING VEHICLES to reduce the likelihood that stolen property is being turned over to junk dealers, vehicle demolishers, and secondary metal recyclers. The legislation imposes new requirements for turning over a valid title certificate with a vehicle to a demolisher in order for the vehicle to be demolished. The legislation establishes alternate means of satisfying proof of ownership to allow a vehicle to be demolished without producing a title to apply in situations where vehicles have been obtained through sheriffs’ sales, public auctions of abandoned vehicles, and similar lawful transactions. The legislation establishes a procedure allowing someone to turn over older derelict vehicles for demolishing without a title or other proof of ownership. Such vehicles, including wrecks abandoned on one’s property, must be at least twelve model years old and must lack an engine or be otherwise totally inoperable. Before completing a transaction on such older vehicles, the demolisher or secondary metals recycler must verify with the Department of Motor Vehicles whether the vehicle has been reported stolen. If a vehicle has been reported stolen, the transaction must not be completed and the demolisher or secondary metals recycler must notify the appropriate law enforcement agency. The legislation enhances record keeping requirements for businesses and criminal penalty provisions for violations. First offenses remain misdemeanors, and second and subsequent offenses are felonies subject to a fine of up to one thousand dollars and/or imprisonment for up to three years. Falsifying a required application, form or affidavit is a felony offense. In lieu of criminal penalties, the director of the Department of Motor Vehicles may issue an administrative fine of up to one thousand dollars for each unintentional violation. Also, a vehicle used to transport a vehicle or vehicle parts unlawfully may be subject to seizure by law enforcement and forfeiture.

S.1031 also includes revisions to the legislation that the General Assembly approved last year to address the problem of COPPER THEFT by enhancing penalties for unlawfully obtaining copper and other nonferrous metals and imposing new restrictions on the sales of such metals that require recyclers and others who sell, purchase and transport nonferrous metals to obtain permits from the sheriff. Notably, the legislation revises the criminal offense established for unlawfully obtaining metals so that it includes lead-acid batteries and steel propane gas tanks, but excludes aluminum cans. The legislation makes revisions regarding required permits. A statewide permit is authorized for transporting nonferrous metals that is valid for a period of two years, rather than one year. The legislation provides for the revocation of permits for violations. To strengthen the existing prohibition on cash transactions for the sale of copper, catalytic converters and beer kegs that requires recyclers to pay for such purchases by check alone, the legislation prohibits a recycler from cashing checks or making use of an automated teller machine (ATM) or other cash card system instead of a check. The legislation prohibits a recycler from purchasing or otherwise acquiring an iron or steel manhole cover or drainage grate. The restrictions placed on metal purchases are revised to establish several exemptions for governments, businesses and charities that have lawful reasons for dealing with scrap metal.

The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.4944, the “SOUTH CAROLINA TELEMEDICINE INSURANCE REIMBURSEMENT ACT”. The legislation provides that a physician or other health care provider who performs telemedicine services in an approved manner must be reimbursed by an insurer for those services in the same manner as health care services provided through an in person consultation. Under the legislation, telemedicine means the delivery of health care, including diagnosis, treatment, or transfer of medical data, by means of interactive audio, video, or data communications by a licensed physician or other health care provider at a consultant site to a patient at a referring site. Interactive audio and video telecommunications must be used between the consultant site and the referring site. The legislation specifies the responsibilities of the telemedicine provider to promptly and electronically communicate the details of an encounter to the patient’s medical home, or, when a patient has no medical home, to either perform or arrange a face to face encounter between the patient and a physician within one week. The South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners has the authority to authorize other specific programs that use standard telephone, facsimile transmissions, unsecured electronic mail, or a combination of them to render health care services, but services rendered through such means do not constitute telemedicine under the legislation.

The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate H.3258. This bill provides that a UNITED STATES NAVAL ACADEMY SPECIAL LICENSE PLATES MAY BE ISSUED TO A SURVIVING SPOUSE OF A GRADUATE. This bill also allows the Department of Motor Vehicles to issue a UNITED STATES NAVY CHIEF PETTY OFFICER SPECIAL LICENCE PLATE.

The House approved S.1268 and enrolled the legislation for ratification. This joint resolution provides that, in 2013 and 2014, the annual FEE FOR THE AUTOMOBILE MANUFACTURER STANDARD LICENSE PLATE for vehicles in the manufacturer’s employee benefit program and for the testing, distribution, evaluation, and promotion of its vehicles is seven hundred two dollars. The legislation provides that twenty dollars of each fee is credited to the General Fund of the state and the balance to local governments. In the case of employees participating in the benefit program who reside outside of this State, the entire fee must be credited to the General Fund of the state.