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

January 17, 2014

Lawmakers returned to the State House on January 14, 2014, to commence the second legislative year of the 120th South Carolina General Assembly.

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3365, a bill creating a SCHOOL SAFETY TASK FORCE to: examine the various funding streams for school based mental health services and determine how the streams may be best utilized in order to provide for more accessible and efficient delivery of mental health programs; examine school mental health staffing ratios and provide suggestions regarding delivery of services and effective school-community partnerships; develop standards for district-level policies to promote effective school discipline and mental health intervention; examine intra-and interagency collaboration and suggest ways to improve cooperation; and examine how to best support multi-tiered systems of support. The legislation establishes the membership of the task force, providing for appointments by the Governor, the State Superintendent of Education, the chairmen of the Senate Education Committee and the House Education and Public Works Committee, the Chief of the State Law Enforcement Division, the South Carolina Department of Mental Health, and certain statewide professional associations in the fields of education and therapy. Task force members shall not receive compensation, mileage or per diem. A deadline is established for the task force to make a report of its recommendations to the General Assembly after which time it is dissolved. Any recommendations made by the task force must be revenue neutral.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3147, a bill establishing provisions for AWARDING WORKERS’ COMPENSATION TO A LAW ENFORCEMENT OFFICER WHO SUSTAINS POST-TRAUMATIC STRESS DISORDER FROM THE USE OF DEADLY FORCE IN THE LINE OF DUTY. This legislation addresses a recent South Carolina Supreme Court ruling that a police officer’s post-traumatic stress disorder after a job-related fatal shooting of a suspect did not arise from extraordinary and unusual conditions of employment, as required for an award of workers’ compensation payments for mental injuries. This legislation exempts a law enforcement officer seeking workers’ compensation for personal injury caused by stress, mental injury or mental illness from meeting this extraordinary and unusual conditions standard when the impairment causing the stress, mental injury, or mental illness arises from the law enforcement officer’s direct involvement in, or subjection to, the use of deadly force in the line of duty.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.4259, the “SOUTH CAROLINA MILITARY SERVICE INTEGRITY AND PRESERVATION ACT”. The legislation establishes a criminal penalty for someone who, with the intent of securing a tangible benefit, knowingly and falsely represents himself through a written or oral communication, including a resume, to have served in the Armed Forces of the United States or to have been awarded a decoration, medal, ribbon, or other device authorized by Congress or pursuant to federal law for the Armed Forces of the United States. A violation is a misdemeanor subject to a fine of up to five hundred dollars and/or imprisonment for up to thirty days.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3514, a bill establishing RESTRICTIONS ON THE OPERATION OF PUBLIC UNMANNED AIRCRAFT SYSTEMS (DRONES) AND THE DISCLOSURE OF PERSONAL INFORMATION ACQUIRED THROUGH THEIR USE. With limited exceptions, this legislation provides that drones may be operated and personal information from the operation disclosed in order to collect personal information only pursuant to a police investigation and a criminal warrant issued by a court of competent jurisdiction. The legislation includes provisions for obtaining the warrant as well as provisions for reporting to the General Assembly and others information about these warrants. It is a misdemeanor offense to disclose, without authorization, information about a search warrant or personal information obtained as a result of the search warrant. Personal information and evidence obtained or collected in violation of these provisions is not admissible as evidence in any trial, hearing, or other proceeding. The legislation requires state agencies and local law enforcement to obtain approval before procuring a drone and requires all operations of a drone or disclosure of personal information about a person acquired through the operation of a drone to be conducted in a manner that minimizes the collection and disclosure of personal information not authorized. The legislation allows the operation of drones by public institutions of higher learning for research or academic purposes. The legislation also makes it unlawful to operate a drone, in whole or in part, as a weapon, or to deliver a weapon against a person or property.

The House approved and sent the Senate H.3174. This legislation allows the governing body of a county or municipality to EXEMPT CERTAIN HISTORIC PROPERTIES FROM THE APPLICATION OR ENFORCEMENT OF BUILDING CODES , upon the recommendation of the local historic preservation commission, when the local governing body determines that the application of the building codes would prevent or significantly hinder preservation or restoration efforts.