Search Results for: funding roads

Funding roads without new taxes (presenting another option)

WBTW-TV: News, Weather, and Sports for Florence, SC

Earlier this year, and again next week during the budget debate, I am offering a solution to our crumbling roads and infrastructure needs.

Simply put one of my bills I pre-filed in December – and the budget proviso I will offer next week – says “once the SC House of Representatives approves our budget; any “extra revenue” must go to roads”. That’s no new taxes; yet more money for what many agree is a critical problem in South Carolina: fixing our roads.

Weeks ago, I joined several House members to again prioritize funding for our roads – without raising taxes. That bill designated revenue from the sales tax on cars to go towards highway funding instead of the General Fund. Again, without raising taxes.

Last week I filed the “Marketplace and Infrastructure Fairness Act” which, like the other proposals I’ve introduced or supported, “fixes our roads” without raising taxes.

I’ve been joined by more than 30 House Members from throughout our state. Republicans and Democrats alike. I’d appreciate your thoughts. If you feel fixing our roads without raising taxes can and should be done before considering raising taxes, I hope you’ll contact your elected officials and let them know to support these efforts.


COLUMBIA, SC — A bill just filed in the South Carolina House would use all the money collected from online sales taxes for roads and bridges in the state. But first, the U.S. Congress would have to pass a law to require all online retailers to collect the sales tax from their customers.

Right now, an online retailer that has a physical presence in South Carolina, like a brick-and-mortar store, has to collect the sales tax. So if you go to to buy something, the website will add the sales tax, since Wal-Mart has store locations in the state.

But if you buy something from an online retailer that doesn’t have a location here, it won’t charge sales tax. You’re supposed to keep track of it and pay it on your state income tax return as a “use tax”.

But the federal government is considering a bill called the “Marketplace Fairness Act”, which would give the states authority to require all online retailers to collect the sales tax at the time of the transaction, regardless of where the online retailer is located.

Rep. Nathan Ballentine, R-Irmo, introduced a bill Thursday in the state House that would send all the money that would be collected from that additional sales tax to roads and bridges in the state.

In a news release, Rep. Ballentine said, “Momentum appears to be building in the US Capitol to pass the Marketplace Fairness Act. Our bill directs any funds sent back to South Carolina as a result of this new federal legislation specifically to our State’s infrastructure needs. South Carolina’s commerce depends on healthy businesses and roads and, if and when this federal bill passes, we will be ready.”

He says a conservative estimate of how much money his bill would bring in, if the federal bill becomes law, is $70 million a year.

The Roads Bill – Conference Report

For more than 3 years, the SC House of Repesentatives has been working towards a solution to fix South Carolina Roads. With limited success, and road bumps in the Senate, it appears that THIS year could be the year our state’s infrastructure needs are finally addressed in a responsible manner.

After a rare feat in the Senate this year, Senators voted to kill a filibuster and passed their version of a bill to help the state. Last week, House and Senate conferees worked to combine the two versions (House/Senate) into a compromise bill that will hopefully pass both chambers – and more importantly – be able to garner enough votes to overturn an inevitable veto by Governor McMaster.

Here are the “main points” of the conference report. If you have questions, please post below or contact me here or by email me at


Governance and Reform

● Provides real accountability and transparency at the Department of Transportation (public records, mandated meetings, ethical requirements for commissioners)

● Gives Governor complete control of the Commission with a clear line of authority and at-will removal

● Requires General Assembly to approve all 9 Highway Commission appointees

● Highway Commission organized to reflect regional representation with 7 Congressional districts and 2 statewide at-large members appointed by the Governor (adds 1 member to current structure)

● Strengthens DOT’s control over project authorization and financial decisions by the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank


● Creates a long-term and sustainable funding stream by increasing the motor fuel user fee by 2 cents/gallon over the next 6 years, not exceeding 12 cents/gallon

● Safeguards taxpayers from future automatic tax increases by not indexing for inflation

● Protects SC taxpayers from continuing to solely foot the bill for infrastructure repair by not using General Fund dollars and captures 30% of the motor fuel user fee revenue from out-of-state motorists

● Creates an Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund to ensure all new revenue collected from the motor fuel user fee is used only for existing infrastructure needs

● Does not increase or change fees for South Carolina driver’s license applications or renewals

● Increases funding for County Transportation Committees targeted to repair rural and secondary roads

● Captures revenue from alternative energy motorists by creating a biennial registration fee for all hybrid and electric vehicles

● Established a road use fee to capture revenue from out of state truckers

● Raises the cap on motor vehicle sales tax to $500 and creates a $250 out of state maintenance fee

● Incentivizes road construction industry to return to SC with responsible infrastructure investment

● Provides $640 million in new annual revenue for infrastructure maintenance needs when fully implemented

Tax Relief

● Includes responsible tax relief to offset the user fee increase for South Carolina motorists

● Offers a refundable income tax credit equal to the motor fuel user fee increase that must be reauthorized prior to 2023

● Enhances already existing College Tuition Tax Credit for every South Carolina tuition-payer to enhance workforce development

● Contains a non-refundable Low Income Tax Credit for working families (not federal model)

● Increases the maximum income tax credit from $210 to $350 for dual income household joint filers

● Reduces SC manufacturers property tax burden by $35 million using a phased-in approach over 6 years

The “Roads Bill” – we vote next week! Your thoughts?

February 9, 2017

House Ways and Means Committee Passes Roads Bill
Includes Long-term Funding and Governance Reform

(Columbia, SC) – House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement after the Ways and Means Committee amended and adopted H. 3516 . The bill will be added to the House legislative calendar next week for debate in the coming weeks.

“South Carolina has the most dangerous roads in the country. Businesses and job creators continue to stress the importance of infrastructure repair as a necessity to further economic investments. For the past several years the General Assembly has allotted a significant portion of the general fund surplus to roads, but pressing needs for education, social services, and retirement deficits will require those monies this year. Our citizens have demanded that those who use our roads must be the ones to pay for repair, not just the South Carolina taxpayer. The House also understands that every dollar raised for infrastructure repair should be used solely for the intended purpose of fixing our roads and bridges, which is why additional funding will be placed in an Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund.

“A gradual increase to the state’s motor fuel user fee is the most responsible option to generate a long-term, sustainable funding stream for road repair. I will not support using general fund revenue for road appropriation again. House Majority Leader Gary Simrill and Ways and Means Chairman Brian White have worked extensively on this infrastructure plan and I commend them for their efforts. As the House roads bill moves to the floor for debate, I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure its passage as fixing our roads is my number one priority.”

Provisions Included in the House Road Funding Bill:

• Creates an Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund
• Increases motor fuel user fee 10 cents/gallon over a 5 year period
• Biennial motor vehicle registration fee increase of $16
• Increases auto sales cap to $500 for South Carolina drives
• Capitalizes on out-of-state registered vehicles
• Creates biennial registration fees for all hybrid and electric vehicles
• Creates a motor carrier road user fee for out-to-state truckers
• Reforms governance of the SCDOT Highway Commission


State of SC Department of Transportation 2017

Tax Foundation: State Gasoline Tax Rates

The State: The House’s roads bill would cost $60 a year for a driver who travels 15,000 miles a year in a vehicle that gets 25 miles per gallon

The State: Gas-tax hike a ‘last resort’ – Governor McMaster

South Carolina Alliance to Fix Our Roads
SC Chamber of Commerce

Americans for Prosperity

The Roads Debate: House plan? Senate plan? ANY plan?


After more than 300 days since the House passed our plan to fix our state’s infrastructure needs (reform and funding), the Senate voted this week on their plan.

Now that there are 2 proposals, the question becomes “Which plan do you think is BEST?” Unless the House concurs with the Senate plan this week (which means we agree to Senate bill with no changes), legislation will head to a conference committee in the weeks ahead to “iron out” differences for a solution that can find enough votes to pass both chambers and gain the support of the Governor.

What are your thoughts? I believe the “comments section” now finally is working again (after receiving more than 8,000 spam comments in the past few months and a virus that took down several posts and every comment going back to when the website started)

As always, feel free to let me know your thoughts here , or email, or comment below.


TIM SMITH The Greenville News
On the same day the Senate gave final approval to its roads bill, House leaders attacked the plan, blasting it as “deceptive” and “irresponsible.”

The Senate’s bill, which actually amends a very different House bill, would dedicate $400 million annually for roads from the General Fund and transfer the power to appoint the state’s highway commissioners from the Legislature to the governor.

The bill now returns to the House, which next week will debate the budget. The original House bill would raise about the same amount of money through a sales tax on gas and by increasing the cap on the sales tax on cars, as well as give the governor the power to appoint highway commissioners, reform the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank and offer a financial carrot to counties willing to take over local roads in the state inventory.

“The Senate’s deceptive plan to fix our crumbling roads system is irresponsible and prioritizes politics over a sound solution,” House Speaker Jay Lucas said in a statement Thursday. “Not only does their plan mislead the people of South Carolina into thinking that a large pot of general fund money will be available every year for roads, it also practices reckless budgeting that jeopardizes the prosperity of our economy. While I acknowledge the Senate’s governance reform efforts, kicking the can further down the road and into a giant pothole defies the test of real leadership.”

House Ways and Means Chairman Brian White of Anderson said the Senate roads bill was not a serious attempt to address the state’s long-term infrastructure needs.

“The Senate’s plan is not a fix for our chronic roads problem,” he said. “It’s a plea for the House to budget them out of their inability to pass a comprehensive roads bill. The House has budgeted hundreds of millions of dollars for roads in the last several years and will continue to do so while we wait on the Senate to get serious about a long-term fix for our roads.”

Rep. Gary Simrill, a Rock Hill Republican who helped craft the House roads plan last year, said using General Fund money to fix roads does not solve the problem over the long run.

“As additional money was made available, the House eagerly fought to set aside resources to improve the condition of our crumbling infrastructure rather than grow the size of government,” he said. “Over $1 billion in general fund money has been appropriated for road repair over the last three years. These short-term solutions proved to be a step in the right direction, but much like the Senate plan, do not provide for South Carolina’s long-term infrastructure needs.”

Senate Republicans did not take the criticism lightly. [Read more…]

House Roads Plan comes to the floor


Earlier this year, there were two bills filed that had several cosponsors and it appeared one of these would be the legislation used to begin the debate on roads/infrastructure.

One bill (H.3579) was the “House Ad-Hoc Committee” bill which came from months long work of a bi-partisan committee formed by House Speaker Jay Lucas. The House Transportation Infrastructure & Management Ad-Hoc Committee was chaired by Rep. Gary Simrill (R-York) and, considering the parameters given (“fix our roads”), the committee presented a thorough bill.

Another bill (H.3580) had a very important component that was outside the parameters given to the committee above: tax relief – massive tax relief that was outlined earlier this year in Governor Haley’s State of the State address. This bill was filed by Rep. Tommy Stringer (R-Greenville).

While there were several discussions between sponsors of both bills as well as the Governor’s Office and staff to reach a compromise ; a third bill (H.3878) was filed that would provide much smaller tax relief in hopes of moving forward and being added to H.3579 as filed by the House Ad-Hoc Committee.

The last week of of March, the House Ways and Means full committee voted to combine the Ad-Hoc Committee bill related to roads and Rep. White’s bill related to income tax and those bills now move to the whole House as “H.3579” Video of the committee can be viewed here.

Much has been written about the need to improve our state’s infrastructure system and every House member knows the importance of getting something passed sooner; rather than later. As I’ve shared at hundreds of meetings in my public service career, I believe you sent me to Columbia to “do something” rather than “do nothing”. Working with a total of 124 House members, 46 Senators, and 1 Governor means rarely will a bill ever be exactly like you or I would like to see it. With that in mind, I would like to hear your opinions on the House proposal. Please contact me directly through my website; email me at; or comment below. Through the floor debate and amendment process, this bill may experience changes; but I wanted to share information provided by the House Ways & Means Committee so that you know what the bill does:

1. Restructuring: There are two key components to restructuring in H. 3579. The first restructures the Department of Transportation and the second component restructures the State Infrastructure Bank.

A. Department of Transportation (DOT)

The Governor appoints Highway Commissioners (7 districts and 1 statewide) with a Joint Transportation Review Committee screening process approval. These commissioners serve at the pleasure of the Governor. The Highway Commission will then appoint a secretary with the advice and consent of the Senate. Commissioners hold no “terms” and may only serve a combined 12 years on the commission (retroactive).

B. State Transportation Infrastructure Bank (SIB)
The SIB Board expands from 7 to 13 members. It would consist of 7 district highway commissioners, 3 appointments from the Speaker of the House, and 3 appointments from the Senate President Pro Tempore. Of those appointments from legislative bodies, 1 of each must be an ex officio Representative and Senator. SIB members would have no terms and may only serve a combined 12 years (retroactive).

The SIB would lower its current $100 million project minimum to a $25 million project minimum and must follow project prioritization set forth by the South Carolina Department of Transportation in accordance with ACT 114. Only a Joint Resolution can override prioritization criteria requirements. However, only one project may be re-prioritized in a single Joint Resolution.

2. Transfer of Local Roads: Local governments that wish to take ownership of local roads (as identified by SCDOT) in their political subdivision may do so. In doing so, these local governments would be eligible for additional C-Funds. Should local governments opt in to take ownership of additional roads, they would receive transferred roads in three phases:

Phase 1: Local governments select 1/3 of identified roads in 2016.
Phase 2: Local governments select 1/3 of identified roads in 2018.
Phase 3: Local government select final 1/3 of identified roads in 2020.

As part of the phase-in process, the monies allocated to participating local governments would see an increased C-fund allocation of $1 million in year one followed by additional revenue increases in phase 2 and phase 3. Participants who opt in during phase 2 in 2018 would see a $500,000 annual increase in C-funds. Finally, participants who opt-in during the final phase would see a $250,000 annual increase in C-funds. C-funds would no longer come with a mandate requiring a percentage of funds be spent on state roads; this decision would rest with local decision makers.

3. Funding Components: There are two funding components.

A. Gas Tax
1. Per Gallon Tax – Currently it is 16.75 cents per gallon of motor fuel (gasoline and
diesel). This proposal would drop it to 10.75 cents per gallon of motor fuel.
2. Excise Tax – A wholesale indexed excise tax of 6% would be applied to a 6-month
average of the wholesale price of motor fuel.

B. Auto Sales Tax – Currently the auto sales tax is 5% of total vehicle costs capped at $300. This proposal would raise that cap to $500. Currently the auto sales tax is broken down with 20% going to education, 40% to the DOT, and 40% to the General fund. Under this proposal, the 20% capped at $300 for education remains, the 40% of the $300 designated to the General Fund moves to DOT and all funds over the $300 also go to DOT.

4. Control Component: This proposal includes two controls designed to prevent dramatic changes to gas prices from affecting the revenues dedicated to infrastructure.

A. Penny Control
The wholesale excise tax would not fluctuate more than one penny in a 6-month period.
B. Lifetime Control
The combined gas tax (comprised of the per gallon AND excise) cannot exceed 26.75 cents/gallon.

5. Revenue Generated:

A. Estimated New Revenue: Under this proposal revenues generated would be $428 million annually. Approximately $100 million from the auto sales tax cap increase, and shift of remaining General Funds to DOT.The remaining $328 million from the gas tax increase.
B. Gas Tax Revenue Sources
Out-of-State motorists currently comprise 1/3 of the revenues from the gas tax. Under this proposal that would equal $109 million.The Average driver (driving 11,000 miles/year in a car receiving 22 miles per gallon) would pay an additional $50 annually.The remainder is paid by “high usage vehicles” to include citizen commuters and transportation related industry.

6. Income Tax Reduction: Under this proposal an income tax reduction would be phased in over a two-year span beginning with fiscal year 2015-2016. The relief is realized by increasing the amount of exempt income in each existing tax bracket by $140 in the first phase, and another $140 the second, for a combined total of $280.

A. Cost to the General Fund
2015-2016: $1,337,967
2016-2017: $25,510,778
2017-2018: $21,910,558

B. Average Savings: The average South Carolina taxpayer with this income tax reduction would save $48 annually.

SC needs to be ready! Improving roads without a new tax

Above video courtesy of Robert Kittle and

South Carolina Rep. Nathan Ballentine, R-Chapin, wants the state to be ready in case Congress passes the bill into law. He’s sponsoring a state bill for what to do with the new sales tax money the state would start getting, which he says is estimated to be $70 million a year. The new money would go to state roads and bridges.

“This is not something new. People are supposed to be paying this tax already; they’re just not, and this is a way to make sure that it gets collected and it gets to where the people need it, on the roads that they travel every day,” he says.

While opponents of the bill say it’s a tax increase, technically it’s not. If you buy something online and are not charged the state sales tax, you’re supposed to keep a record of that purchase and then pay that sales tax on your state income tax return. Very few people do, Rep. Ballentine says.

For more on this story, click on the WSPA website . Of course, Nathan’s News readers knew about this proposal several weeks ago .

I’ve been joined by more than 30 House Members from throughout our state. Republicans and Democrats alike. I’d appreciate your thoughts. If you feel fixing our roads without raising taxes can and should be done before considering raising taxes, I hope you’ll contact your elected officials and let them know to support these efforts.

Public Input Meeting (ROADS) tomorrow!

Richland County Transportation Study Commission Public Input Meetings

The Richland County Transportation Study Commission will release its preliminary recommendations on April 8, 2008. The public will have an opportunity to provide feedback during a series of four public meetings that have been scheduled in locations throughout the county:

Public Input Meeting Dates Area Date Time Place

Downtown: Saturday, April 12, 2008 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM Richland County Public Library
1431 Assembly Street

Northeast: Monday, April 14, 2008 6:00 – 8:00 PM Ridge View High School
4801 Hard Scrabble Road

Lower Richland: Wednesday, April 16, 2008 6:00 – 8:00 PM Lower Richland High School
2615 Lower Richland Boulevard

Northwest: Thursday, April 17, 2008 6:00 – 8:00 PM Dutch Fork High School
1400 Old Tamah Road

About the Transportation Study Commission:

The Richland County Transportation Study Commission was created by council ordinance in October 2006. The purpose of the Transportation Study Commission is to analyze the county’s current and future transportation needs and to develop a long-term plan designed to improve the county’s multi-modal transportation network. The Commission’s final recommendations will be submitted to County Council in May 2008.

The 39-member Transportation Study Commission is made up of an executive committee and three subcommittees:

Executive Committee – The Executive Committee is responsible for overseeing the work of the commission and each of its three subcommittees. The executive committee is made up of seven members, three of which also serve as subcommittee chairmen. The Executive Committee is chaired by Dr. Caroline Whitson.

Greenways, Bike and Pedestrian Subcommittee – The Greenways, Bike and Pedestrian Subcommittee is responsible for studying alternatives modes of transportation such as greenways, bike paths and sidewalks. The Greenways, Bike and Pedestrian Subcommittee is chaired by Ken Driggers.

Roads Subcommittee – The Roads Subcommittee is responsible for studying the county’s road and highway network for the purpose of improving safety and addressing congestion on county roadways. The Roads Subcommittee is chaired by Pat Noble.

Transit Subcommittee – The Transit Subcommittee is charged with studying the availability and management of mass transit services, including bus and rail service. The Transit Subcommittee chaired by William Leidinger.

The Transportation Study
The transportation study has been divided into seven tasks. Tasks 2 through 8 will culminate with the publication and adoption of a “technical memo.”

Task #1 : Public Participation (Ongoing)

Task #2 : Existing Conditions

Task #3 : Analysis of Existing Transportation Network

Task #4 : Identification of Alternatives

Task #5 : Alternatives Analysis

Task #6 : Preliminary Recommendations

Task #7 : Funding Options

Task #8: Final Recommendations
Scheduled completion date: May 2008

Contact Information
For more information, please contact Joe Cronin, Research Manager, at (803) 576-2066 or

State Bill Could Address Congress Online Sales Tax Decision

Jennifer Bellamy (@JBellamyWLTX)

Columbia, SC (WLTX) — A huge benefit for online shopping could soon be a thing of the past.

Congress is looking at the Marketplace Fairness Act, which would clear the way for states to collect sales taxes for purchases made online, and one South Carolina representative wants the state to be ready if it happens.

“We’re missing out on $70 million right now. That means that there are South Carolinians who are buying merchandise over the internet who are required currently to report that with the department of revenue and they’re not doing that at the present time,” said Richland County Representative Nathan Ballentine.

He says that money can serve the state best by fixing roads and bridges.

“That’s what we need the most of, certainly we’ve got several core functions of government, but one that we’re behind in severely, severely and whether you’re a democrat or a republican, whether you’re from the upstate, midlands or low country we’d all agree, and we all do that infrastructure’s important . Not just to our citizens, but for our business and our economy,” he said.

Some of the nation’s biggest retailers support the measure, but small-business owners say it will create huge problems when it comes to accounting.

Across the country, states lost an estimated $23 billion last year in online sales taxes, and Ballentine says his bill, that has nearly 40 sponsors from both parties, can help the state.

“We’re not raising taxes, we’re not creating a new tax, we’re not putting our state in debt. We’re trying to find a way, a first step to fix our bridges and roads,” he said.

It is not clear what the U.S. House will do if the bill makes it through the senate, still Ballentine says it is important for the state to be ready if the measure goes into effect.

“I’m just simply saying hey, when and if congress does that let’s be ready South Carolina,” said Ballentine.

Ballentine’s bill is in the House Ways and Means Committee.

For more, read earlier posts on Nathan’s News:

SC needs to be ready! Improving roads without a new tax

Funding Roads without new taxes

The Weekly Rewind: Week of March 15th

I am pleased to report that last week the House of Representatives State Budget passed overwhelmingly with a bipartisan vote of 108 in favor to only 7 against.

A lot of hard work and effort went into creating this budget with hundreds of hours of committee meetings, subcommittee meetings, and conversations with numerous state agencies. The ability of this budget to move through the House with few amendments is evidence of a solid and sound fiscal policy that adequately funds the needs of our state while making South Carolina a better place to live, work, or own a business.

The 2022-2023 State Budget is unique from those of previous years because of the amount of surplus funds in our state, from years of wise budgeting and policy, and an influx of federal ARPA funds and infrastructure money. Taking this into consideration, we built the budget on a foundation of 4 basic pillars, which are present throughout: Reducing Taxes, Roads, Reserves, and Raises for Teachers, Law Enforcement, First Responders, and State Employees. The House’s budget is balanced, with conservative financial management practices, and a low tax debt burden. This budget grows our revenue and reserves.

Below are just a few of the highlights from this year’s House budget, including bettering our education system and infrastructure, and improving the lives of our veterans, state employees, teachers, law enforcement, and taxpayers. The budget now is on its way to the Senate, where changes are possible. For a full breakdown of everything in this year’s budget or to find specific dollar numbers or line items, I encourage you to visit the House Ways and Means webpage on the website.

Education & Teachers:
One of our priorities this year (and every year) is to make sure that our K-12 schools and institutions of higher learning are fully prepared to provide the best possible education and resources possible for our students and teachers. Here’s what this year’s budget does:

Provides K-12 schools over $12,000,000,000 in funding next year
Raises the SC starting salary to $40,000, a $10K raise from 2018
Raises the SC average teacher salary to $52,604, a $7K+ raise from 2018
Raises average dollars spent per pupil to $4,834
Raises bus driver salary by 5%
Dedicates $150M to capital improvements to disadvantaged schools
Provides $100M for classroom materials and expands VirtualSC by $5.4M
Freezes tuition for in-state, 4-year, public universities and fully funds state scholarships through the lottery for the 7th year in a row
Provides $20.8 million for workforce training equipment for Technical Colleges
Helps college students through $60M in Needs Based Grants and $20M in Tuition Grants
Provides $4.1M in scholarships to disabled students in programs that promote the advancement of academics, socialization, independent living, and career development
Roads & Infrastructure:
This budget has a profound dedication to improving, expanding, widening, and expediting infrastructure in SC once and for all. With the passage of this bill, our highways and interstates, bridges, water and sewer, and broadband infrastructure will be years ahead of neighboring states. The House Budget:

Improves our infrastructure by allocating $1,000,000,000 towards South Carolina’s roads
Accelerates rural interstate funding to accelerate interstate projects
Accelerates local projects by giving $250 million to the County Transportation Funds, with a focus on secondary and low volume primary roads
Funds Navy Base Intermodal Facility and barge infrastructure project, ensuring our ports remain an economic engine and create high-paying jobs for our citizens
Funds the assessment and improvement of infrastructure needed to bring new water and sewer opportunities to areas facing challenges in providing safe water
Income Tax Relief & Reserves:
Since Republicans took over the House, SC has seen over $54 billion in tax cuts. This fiscal year alone, in a $10.8 billion budget, over $3 billion have been returned to taxpayers. That represents a return of 1/3 of general fund revenues to South Carolina citizens through individual income tax cuts, small business tax cuts, corporate income tax cuts, food tax elimination, and property tax relief. This year’s budget:

Funds income tax relief, which provides significant relief to almost all taxpayers and simplifies our tax system
Funds year 1 of the House’s new income tax plan, which cuts income taxes by $1,000,000,000 in South Carolina, saving the average SC family an average of 25%.
Fully funds constitutional reserves and brings our total state reserve funds to 10% of our revenue, which has SC sitting at $1,047,000,000 in reserves.
Law Enforcement:
Since the pandemic, we have seen an overwhelming number of law enforcement officers retiring, leaving the profession, or not applying at all. We included a number of provisions in this year’s budget to combat that:

Raises salaries for law enforcement & correctional officers, with an extra $10M for training
Dedicates $20M for body cameras and armor for all law enforcement officers
Provides man down electronic system at Level II and III correctional facilities and security cameras and vests for emergency responses teams and correctional officer
Supplies $6M of Critical Supplies and Equipment to Dept. of Corrections
It is important that we provide for and give back to our veterans, who risked it all for our country and our freedom. We have incorporated funds into this year’s budget to help fund veteran’s services, as well as eliminate taxes on military retirement through our income tax relief bill. Here’s what else the budget does for our veterans:

Expands ability to deliver critical services to the Veteran population including their public outreach initiatives
Funds the development, building, and implementation of new veteran facilities that will serve veterans-in-need as a residential, rehabilitation, training, and administrative hub
Protects our military bases from base-reduction initiatives with $10M to Military Enhancement Funds
State Employees
Our state employees proved their immense value to our state and saved the day in recent years, keeping our state afloat, moving, and open for business during pandemic conditions. To thank then, the budget:

Raises pay for state employees by 3% – the largest pay raise in six years
Gives a $1,500 bonus for all state employees
Increases benefits by allotting $101 million to fully cover the state employee health and dental insurance, and well visits without an additional monthly premium cost
Other Important Budget Items:
The budget funds a number of state improvements in a wide array of areas. Here are some of the other important priorities that were funded in the 2022-2023 State Budget:

$2.8M to fund the Election Integrity and Compliance Auditor Program and $1.2M for Election Security Funding
$98M for the conservation of South Carolina’s land and natural resources
$31M to upgrade and modernize parks and camping amenities
$20.7M for advertising and promotion of tourism in South Carolina
$66.5M to begin to address mental and behavioral health deficits
$104.4M to fully fund a new statewide public health laboratory, addressing issues discovered during the pandemic
$10M to the Children’s Hospital Infrastructure Fund
$8M for the Hollings Cancer Center to become designated as a Comprehensive Cancer Center
$137M to statewide Disaster Trust Fund account to be used to offset FEMA matches and $87 million for resiliency efforts and disaster mitigation

The Weekly Rewind: Week of March 8th

House Floor Review
March 10, 2022

The House set H. 5150, the General Appropriation Bill, and H. 5151, the joint resolution making appropriations from the Capital Reserve Fund, for special order on Monday, March 14, to begin its consideration of the Fiscal Year 2022-2023 State Government Budget on the House Floor.

Approved by the House, and sent to the Senate, was H. 4601, County Minimum Ambulance Service Standards. County councils would need to have at least one licensed ambulance service operating within its county under this proposal. They will not have to fund them if the private sector provides the service. Cities could set up, or contract for, these services as well. Mutual agreements are permitted to ensure these minimum service levels are met.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H. 4837, a bill establishing requirements and authorization that allows a not-for-profit program to operate optometry mobile units to visit Title I public schools and provide services onsite to their students.

The House recommitted H. 4946, legislation which states beginning July 1, 2022, the Department of Agriculture will establish the South Carolina Agricultural Tax Exemption (SCATE) Card Program as the sole method for obtaining farm and agricultural sales tax exemptions.

The House received message from the Senate that the Conference Report for H. 3308 was adopted and enrolled for ratification. The bill increases the watercraft idle speed wake distance on certain lakes.

The House returned S. 1090 to the Senate with amendments. The bill explicitly reaffirms the Department of Employment and Workforce’s authority to set a weekly maximum amount of unemployment benefits that an individual may receive in a week for the legitimate legislative purpose of ensuring the solvency of the unemployment insurance trust fund and that there are adequate funds to pay unemployment insurance benefits to individuals unemployed through no fault of their own. The maximum weekly benefit amount set each year by DEW within the range established in statute must be published on the Department’s website. The legislation identifies the statutory procedure for reconsideration of benefit determinations as the sole and exclusive procedure and remedy for disputing the Department’s determination of an insured worker’s weekly benefit amount.

After adopting the proposed Committee amendment, the House amended and sent H. 3600 to the Senate. Those House amendments made minimal changes regarding highway crossing and helmet requirements. H. 3600 extensively addresses the subject of utility terrain vehicles (UTV).

This bill would define the term utility terrain vehicle and provide for the registration and operation on highways and streets (to include side-by-side, four-wheel drive, off-road vehicle, transporting individuals and cargo or both, tires, width, steering and seating). The bill also addresses speed and engine power parameters to ensure they are over the size of UTVs designed for young people. UTVs must be registered like a passenger vehicle. They would be exempt from county property tax and subject for registration renewal biennially. They are subject to user fees for electric, hydrogen, and fuels other than motor fuel. Other requirements are: unobscured license plate, registration, proof of ownership, liability insurance and a ten-dollar biennial fee. UTVs may only travel on roads with a fifty-five mph speed limit or less, but UTVs may cross at an intersection where the road has a posted speed limit of more than fifty-five miles an hour. It may be operated on an island road not accessible by a bridge designed for use by automobile. Operator must be at least sixteen years old and hold a valid driver’s license. The operator must have in his possession while operating on a street or highway: license plate and registration certificate, proof of liability insurance and driver’s license. If the operator is sixteen and holds a conditional driver’s license, the vehicle may only be driven during daylight hours. Registered UTVs may not be operated by anyone who holds a beginner’s permit holder, even if accompanied by a licensed driver, a moped operator’s permit, a temporary alcohol license, a route restricted license, a provisional driver’s license; or solely a motorcycle license. No child under eight years old may be a passenger in a registered UTV while operated on a road. Drivers and passengers are required to have helmets and googles. Registered UTVs must be equipped with Type 2 seat belt assembly (pelvic and upper torso restraints), operable headlights, brake lights, taillights and turn signals. Drivers and passengers of a registered UTV, while being operated on a roadway, must wear a fastened safety belt.

SCDMV must not register or renew the registration of a UTV unless a certificate of title has been issued to owner or application delivered by owner to SCDMV. The SCDMV may require a bill of sale, invoice, or other sales document to properly title. Certificates of titles issued under this subsection must be branded “off road use only.” UTVs are exempt from the State Infrastructure Tax, but subject to sales tax.

H. 4534 Legal Scrap Metal Purchasing and Transportation was approved and sent to the Senate after receiving three readings in the House.

This proposal would revise the process and restrictions on nonferrous metal purchases, transportation, and sales. Nonferrous metals include copper. Secondary metal recyclers would not be able to buy iron or steel manhole covers, drainage gates, evaporation coils, or condensing coils unless the material is from a properly documented replacement, or maintenance project.

It also seeks to update various criminal offenses associated with nonferrous metals, including redefining “intent” and clarifying other aspects of these violations. One important aspect is the presumption created by employees who violate the requirements of this act. They will be considered to have acted outside the scope and course of their employment in committing their violations.
It will also require county sheriffs to issue permits to non-fixed site secondary metal recyclers who meet permit application criteria as specified in this bill. Catalytic converter purchases must be accompanied by a long list of related information in order to be considered to be legal buys. Fixed site secondary metal recyclers will be required to post specified warning signs for viewing by sellers visiting their businesses.

The House approved and sent the Senate H. 3271 Name Change Residency Prerequisites. Under this bill, name change petitions could not be filed until a petitioner has resided in South Carolina for at least six months.

The Senate has been sent H. 3509 after the House amended it further and gave it third reading. This proposed legislation could extend foster care past age eighteen. Certain children still in SC Department of Social Services custody on their eighteenth birthday could continue to receive these services and support until they turn twenty-one. They include students still pursuing secondary, post-secondary or vocational education. Also included are alternately-abled children, those in vocational rehabilitation, or those working at least eight hours per month. It also expands the definition of what would be considered a “foster family home.”

In order to extend their foster home residency, these children would have to make written application to SC DSS. Children disqualified from receiving services past eighteenth would have to be informed of their right to appeal to the agency, unless they already have a case pending in the family court that can hear this issue. Children without private attorneys could request one from the Commission on Indigent Defense. It was amended further to make its effective date contingent upon funding being budgeted.

The House passed, and sent to the Senate, H. 3950–Boat and Motor Owners Transfer On Death Designees. This bill would allow boat and motor purchasers to file transfer on death [TOD] applications to designate who will own them after they die. As appropriate, either the South Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles or the Department of Natural Resources will maintain these records (and receive documents when the owner or owners pass away and the designated beneficiary becomes the owner of these items).

Second reading was given to H. 4321 Third Party Workers’ Compensation Claim Notices. Any notice requirements for filing these actions against third parties would be permissive rather than mandatory if this bill is enacted. It also would repeal the existing one-year statute of limitations for filing third party actions.

The House amended S. 947 and sent it to the Senate. The bill exempts the electric cooperatives of South Carolina from being regulated as a driving school by exempting an association formed by a group of electric cooperatives pursuant to the extent that it trains member cooperative employees. The House amendment allows that all driver training schools licensed as pertaining to this chapter may offer financial assistance to students who attend public South Carolina high schools to cover the fees associated with the business of training or educating persons to drive or operate motor vehicles.

The House non-concurred in Senate amendments to H. 3590. The bill would provide that public school districts may hire noncertified teachers if a certified teacher is not available (if certain circumstances and requirements are met).

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H. 3859, a bill addressing the electronic dissemination of third-party commercial recordings or audiovisual works. The legislation requires someone who owns or operates a website or online service dealing in the electronic dissemination of third-party commercial recordings or audiovisual works, directly or indirectly, and who electronically disseminates the works to consumers in this state to disclose clearly and conspicuously his correct name, physical address, telephone number, and e-mail address on his website or online service. The legislation establishes a private cause of action for violations, and provides that a violation constitutes an unfair trade practice. The legislation is supplemental to state and federal criminal and civil law.

The House amended, approved, and sent the Senate H. 4161, a bill that revises provisions relating to prohibited gaming machines to allow manufacturers to produce gaming machines and equipment designated for out-of-state use. The legislation allows for the development, manufacture, processing, selling, possessing, provision of technical aid, or transporting of any printed materials, gaming equipment, devices, or other materials, software, or hardware used or designated for use in out-of-state jurisdictions by a gaming device manufacturer. In order to make use of this authority, a gaming device manufacturer must be in compliance with state and local business requirements and must be registered with the South Carolina Secretary of State’s Office and the United States Department of Justice Gambling Device Registration Unit.

The House amended, approved and sent to the Senate H. 4866, a joint resolution to provide for a three-year pilot program for public school-based canneries. The resolution outlines that the Department of Education, in conjunction with the Food Systems and Safety Program of the Clemson Extension Service, shall plan, develop, institute, and oversee a pilot program of three public school-based community canning sites where the general public may bring locally grown produce to be canned for their personal use. The purpose of this program is to enable families to safely preserve and store food grown by them for personal consumption through the use of research-based information, procedures and instruction concerning canning food and the use of industrial grade equipment and supplies that allow for faster processing of fruits and vegetables on a larger scale than can be done at home. These public school based community canneries shall provide community training programs for food preservation using canning. Use of the canning facilities and canning supplies must be provided to the community with limits on the amount available per family.

The resolution also outlines that community members using the facilities must sign an agreement not to sell any of the food that is canned at the cannery. The pilot program will run from Year 2023 to 2026. The bill provides for responsibilities of Clemson Extension and the Department of Education. A performance report must be provided before January 1, 2026. The report will address each cannery and make recommendations regarding whether the program should be continued. The provisions of this joint resolution only may be enforced when the General Assembly appropriates the necessary funding.

The House approved H. 3537, adopting the proposed amendment by the Committee, giving the bill third reading and sending it to the Senate. This legislation outlines that provisions of any homeowners’ association (HOA) governing documents may not prohibit the installation of a flagpole for the display of the flag of the United States or South Carolina. However, the governing documents may include reasonable rules and regulations regarding the location and size of the flagpole.

S. 628, a bill that enacts the “Pharmacy Access Act,” was recalled and referred to the Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee.

The House amended and gave second reading to H. 3958, legislation that outlines that a coroner is considered a public safety officer if killed in the line of duty in counties which have both a coroner and a medical examiner. In addition, the bill adds that a coroner or designee may possess and administer an opioid antidote in accordance with the requirements of the “South Carolina Overdose Prevention Act.”

The House also approved S. 973, a bill to incorporate all amendments made to code sections in Volume 21 of our South Carolina Code into one volume. After the House adopted this Senate bill, it was enrolled for ratification.