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

February 28, 2014

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3925, legislation that addresses the APPLICATION OF THE POLLUTION CONTROL ACT which regulates the discharge of industrial waste, sewage, and other pollutants through permitting programs at the Department of Health and Environmental Control. H.3925 follows up on previous legislation, Act 198 of 2012, which the General Assembly passed to counter a South Carolina Supreme Court ruling that found there was a private cause of action under South Carolina’s Pollution Control Act which allowed an individual or a group of concerned citizens to bring a lawsuit under the act. H.3925 specifies that it is the intent of the General Assembly that no private right of action exists under the Pollution Control Act. Beginning with the June 6, 2012, effective date of Act 198 of 2012, no claim or cause of action alleging a violation of the Pollution Control Act may be filed in a court or administrative tribunal by any person other than the Department of Health and Environmental Control or an agency, commission, department, or political subdivision of the State, with the exception that an individual may pursue the administrative procedure established by Act 198 of 2012 that allows someone to petition DHEC for a declaratory ruling on an assertion that the Pollution Control Act is being violated. Under this procedure, someone, other than DHEC or an agency, commission, department, or political subdivision of the State, making an assertion about a violation of the Pollution Control Act must first petition DHEC in writing for a declaratory ruling about whether there is a specific, existing regulatory program that applies to a proposed or existing discharge into the environment. The subject of the petition must be notified and DHEC must issue its declaratory ruling within sixty days. The department is authorized to issue emergency orders if it determines that immediate action is necessary to protect the public health or property from an unpermitted discharge. Anyone contesting a department decision on a petition may request a contested case hearing in the Administrative Law Court. H.3925 specifies that any decision of the department with respect to which review could have been, but was not, obtained under these petition provisions is not subject to judicial review in any civil proceeding. H.3925 also revises language in Act 198 of 2012 specifying that the act’s passage is not to affect pending legal actions by limiting its application to pending civil actions, criminal prosecutions, and appeals and eliminating references to vested rights, duties, penalties, forfeitures, and liabilities.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3796, a bill revising the COLLECTION OF FEES FOR PRIVATE PASSENGER VEHICLE TRUCKS. The legislation establishes provisions allowing someone to submit an affidavit attesting that a truck, within certain weight limits, that he owns or leases is exclusively for personal use so that the truck is subject to fees for private passenger vehicles rather than the fee schedule established for commercial vehicles. If a local governing body imposes a schedule of road or other fees, however described, on motor vehicles registered in its jurisdiction and that schedule imposes fees that vary with respect to classes of vehicles, then the lowest fee in that schedule of fees imposed by the local governing body must apply to all vehicles registered by the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles for the state biennial registration fees provided for certain handicapped individuals and senior citizens.

The House adopted and sent the Senate H.4596, a concurrent resolution declaring the General Assembly’s OPPOSITION TO ANY ADDITIONAL LIVE BOTTOM MARINE PROTECTED AREAS OFF THE COAST OF SOUTH CAROLINA associated with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council’s proposed Regulatory Amendment 17 or any future amendments to the Fishery Management Plan for the Snapper Grouper Fishery of the South Atlantic Region. The South Carolina General Assembly urges SAFMC to cease all work on Snapper Grouper Regulatory Amendment 17 and to focus on ensuring that stock assessments are conducted for speckled hind and warsaw grouper and on implementing a monitoring and evaluation plan for the existing deep water MPAs in the South Atlantic.

The House approved S.953 and enrolled the bill for ratification. This legislation UPDATES REFERENCES TO THE INTERNAL REVENUE CODE IN STATE TAX STATUTES to bring them into conformity with the latest federal provisions.