H. 4187 Felony ‘Smash and Grab’ or other Organized Retail Theft

The House has sent the Senate H. 4187. It is a legislative attempt to revise the criminal offense of retail theft of more than $2,000 worth of merchandise, property, money, gift cards, or other forms of credit to deprive a merchant of the full value of these items. It would do so by creating the offenses of felony organized retail crime and felony organized retail crime of an aggravated nature by two or more people acting in concert. These crimes would have to be shown to have been committed with an intent by these thieves to sell, barter, exchange, or re-enter the stolen items into the stream of commerce for their own personal monetary, or other, gain.

It also proposes graduated penalties for these new crimes, based on the total value of any items taken within a 90-day period. One indictment can cover all of these thefts during this time, even if they were stolen from different locations. When an innocent party experiences bodily injury during these ‘smash and grab’ crimes, or more than $2,000 worth of property damage is incurred by any merchant, an aggravated charge could be made. Maximum fines of $50,000, and up to 15 years in jail—or both—could be imposed to punish these violators. Sellers of stolen items, even if no one is convicted of organized retail theft, also would face repercussions for doing so if they believe, or have reasonable grounds to have believed, that the items they received were stolen.

H. 4248 Conditional Discharge Orders for Serving Underage Drinkers Alcohol Offenders

The Senate is also receiving H. 4248. It would permit servers charged with delivering underage patrons, beer, ale, porter, or wine to enter into conditional discharge orders after paying appropriate fees set out under this bill. Compliance with these orders would dispose of the pending charges. While our State Law Enforcement Division would receive a nonpublic record of these offenses, they could be expunged once violators successfully meet all the conditions of the signed order, pay an appropriate fee, and then no conviction would appear on their records as a result.

H. 4561 Campaign Funds for Dependent Care

The House sent the Senate H. 4561, a bill to allow candidates and public officials to use campaign funds to pay for dependent care expenses incurred during campaign activities. Dependent care includes direct care for minors or family members with disabilities or medical conditions for whom the candidate or official has direct responsibility. This care would have to be provided when public officials participate in events outside of their normal working hours. Candidates and public officials would have to incur expenses that would not have arisen but for the fact they are campaigning. Any dependent care would have to be provided by a provider licensed in South Carolina, unless, as set out in this version of this bill, a non-licensed provider –who is not a family member—is the only person who can do so because no licensed provider is available. Records of these expenses would have to be retained for four years and made available to the State Ethics Commission upon request.

H. 4622 Itemized Medical Billing

The House gave third reading, as amended, and sent to the Senate H. 4622, a bill dealing with itemized medical billing. Beginning January 1, 2025, a health care provider that requests payment from a patient shall submit with the request an itemized bill of the service(s) provided during that visit. “Health care provider” means a hospital or ambulatory surgical facility. A health care provider may issue the itemized bill electronically, including through a patient portal on the provider’s website. The provider must submit the itemized bill no later than 30 days after the provider receives a final payment. The legislation further outlines what must be contained in the itemized bill. The bill outlines that a provider cannot send to collections until an itemized bill is provided to a patient. It is provided that a collection agency is not liable under this provision for billing inaccuracies provided by the health care provider. If any inaccuracies are determined, the collection agency must cease collection activities and return the account back to the health care provider.

H. 4928 Veterans’ Trust Fund

The House concurred with Senate amendments to H. 4928 and enrolled the bill for ratification. This bill deals with the Veterans’ Trust Fund that assist public and private veteran programs throughout the state with only voluntary tax donations. Currently, the fund does not have fundraising as an activity to raise monies to add to the fund. As a result, the bill adds fundraising as an activity.

H. 5144 School Mapping Data Program

H. 5144 was amended by the House and ordered to third reading. H. 5144 establishes a statewide school mapping data initiative within the State Department of Education (with guidance Center for School Safety and Targeted Violence) for the purpose of facilitating efficient emergency responses in public schools (including charter schools and special schools) by public safety agencies. The State Department of Education must pay annual maintenance fees to update school maps to ensure the floor plans and aerial imagery are accurate and up to date.

H. 3992 Delinquent Unemployment Compensation Tax Payments

The House concurred in Senate amendments to H. 3992, legislation addressing delinquent unemployment compensation tax payments, and enrolled the bill for ratification. The legislation provides that an employer who has an installment payment agreement approved by the Department of Employment and Workforce shall be permitted to pay its unemployment compensation tax at the prescribed rate. However, any such employer’s tax rate shall immediately revert to the tax class twenty rate if the employer fails to make any one of the succeeding deferred payments or fails to submit any succeeding wage report and payment in a timely manner as required by the department-approved installment payment agreement.

H. 5230 Attorney General Membership in the Retirement System for Judges and Solicitors

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H. 5230, a bill revising retirement system eligibility. The legislation provides authority for the South Carolina Attorney General to become a member of the South Carolina’s Retirement System for Judges and Solicitors. Eligibility provisions of the Retirement System for Judges and Solicitors are revised to include administrative law judges. The legislation provides for full-time masters-in-equity to participate in the South Carolina Police Officers Retirement System.

H. 5235 Medicaid Program Conformity

The House approved and sent the Senate H. 5235, Medicaid Program conformity legislation. The bill revises provisions relating to insurers providing coverage to persons receiving Medicaid to comport with the federal Consolidated Appropriations Act of 2022.

H. 5236 Medicaid System Procurement

The House approved and sent the Senate H. 5236, a bill addressing Medicaid System procurement. The legislation allows the state to rely upon the prior notification published by the National Association of State Procurement Officials (NASPO) for any multi‑state solicitation it issues by authorizing South Carolina’s Department of Health and Human Services, or a successor agency, to award contracts and procure Medicaid systems and services using competitively solicited NASPO ValuePoint Master Cooperative Purchasing Agreements.

H. 3180 Homeowners Associations’ Authority to Foreclose on Property

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H. 3180, a bill addressing homeowners associations’ authority to foreclose on property. Under the legislation, “any homeowners association with the authority granted in its governing documents to foreclose on the property of a homeowners association member must, in the case of a default by a defendant property owner, make application for a rule to show cause to be issued to the defendant property owner. No foreclosure sale may be noticed prior to the issuance of the rule to show cause.”

H. 4843 Use of Marinas and Commercial Decks Located in Critical Coastal Areas

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H. 4843, a bill addressing the authority for businesses to use their marinas and commercial decks located in coastal critical areas. The legislation provides that, notwithstanding any statutory or regulatory provision of law to the contrary, businesses that contain grandfathered or permitted commercial decks or marinas located in coastal waters, tidelands, beaches, or dune areas may utilize these structure for purposes of providing food and beverage services for consumption by patrons of the business.