July 26, 2014

Legislative Update: February 16

While the House is furloughed, the Senate continues to meet. Here’s a look at headlines from the state Capitol Wednesday:
Cub Scouts from Pack 380 in Chapin tour the Statehouse Wednesday

–State Treasurer Curtis Loftis will remain on the panel tasked with overseeing how South Carolina invests its pension funds. Senators voted 34-10 to table an amendment that would have required Loftis to instead appoint someone else in his place.

–The vote was one of many Wednesday as the Senate debated late into the night, hoping to finally pass out a government restructuring bill that has dominated the body’s time since senators returned in January.

–During their meeting Wednesday, the state’s top economic officials kept their budget projections intact. The Board of Economic Advisors voted to keep their nearly $6.3 billion prediction for General Fund revenue, which will be what legislators use in drafting a state budget over the coming weeks.

–A bill portrayed as a battle between a multi-national corporation and small business auto repair shops advanced in a Senate subcommittee. The bill would prevent an insurance claims call center from recommending glass repair businesses it also owns. The bill’s supporters say they are specifically targeting Safelite Solutions, which they claim conducts unfair business practices.

–Senators unanimously sent to the governor a proposal that would rename the Pendleton District Agricultural Museum the “Bart Garrison Agricultural Museum of South Carolina.” The museum is currently undergoing renovations.

–Governor Nikki Haley spoke to local government leaders Wednesday. In a keynote speech to the Municipal Association of South Carolina, Haley reiterated her plan to lower the state’s manufacturing income tax rate from 10.5 percent to 6 percent, saying it would help smaller towns in the state.

–State law enforcement officials released their first joint legislative agenda Wednesday. Attorney General Alan Wilson, SLED Chief Mark Keel, 1st Circuit Solicitor David Pascoe, and South Carolina Association of Sheriffs executive director Jeff Moore said their priorities include adequately funding law enforcement and changing a law about how court testimony can be used.

–The Senate Transportation Committee passed a bill that would classify mopeds as a “motor vehicle” under the state’s DUI laws. Currently, moped drivers are exempt from drunken driving charges. The legislation would not impact other exemptions for moped drivers, such as insurance, license plates, etc.

–Senators in a Labor, Commerce, and Industry subcommittee heard testimony on— but did not advance– a bill that tries to override a federal light bulb regulation. The proposal passed the House last year and would allow incandescent bulbs (scheduled to be phased out by new federal standards) to be manufactured and sold inside state borders.

–Meanwhile, a Senate Agriculture subcommittee advanced a bill that would protect a landowner if a person is injured while riding horses on their property. The bill passed the House a few weeks ago… The same committee also voted on a separate measure that would create a fine for destroying an electronic dog collar. Sponsor Bill Hixon (R-North Augusta) says there are currently no repercussions for a person who destroys the equipment, which can be worth hundreds of dollars.

–Here’s what’s happening at the Statehouse Thursday.