February 10, 2016

Legislative Update: February 28

The stories making headlines in the Capitol. (Click here for what’s on tap Tuesday)

Students from the Future Farmers of America tour the Statehouse grounds last week

–Governor Nikki Haley vetoed a resolution which would have blocked dredging of the Savannah River. The resolution would have retroactively suspended decisions made by the Department of Health & Environmental Control board dealing with the Savannah River. Haley called the resolution, which unanimously passed in both the House and Senate, a “legislative overreach.” Legislators say Haley is trying to defend a bad decision made by her appointees on the board.

–The budget will be the primary focus of the House next week. Leaders on both sides say they don’t expect a major floor fight, but the top issue will probably be aid to local governments.  Republicans say they don’t have enough money to fully fund a state formula that determines how much local governments receive. Democrats say it’s unfair for the state to require certain services from the counties without fully funding those services.

–A bill passed the House last week that would require the state Department of Transportation to post notices on any road it plans to abandon. State Rep. Robert Brown (D-Hollywood) pushed for the law after two road closures caught his constituents by surprise.

–A Senate panel last week advanced legislation that would require greater use of an in-car breathalyzer for drivers convicted of DUI. Called an “ignition interlock device,” it would be used as an option for a DUI offender who would otherwise face a much-longer suspension of their driver’s license.

–Marion County legislator Jim Battle (D-Nichols) said he will not run for re-election after spending 16 years in the Statehouse. Battle said he wants to make more time for his family. He does plan to serve the remainder of his term.

–The House advanced a bill that targets Horry County’s “flow-control” law. Under the county ordinance, all waste collected in Horry County is required to be dumped at a single landfill. Opponents say private collectors should be able to use a landfill outside the county, if they wish. The bill heads to the House floor after passing an environmental committee last week.

–Employers could see their workers compensation premiums increase next year. State regulators are considering a proposal to increase loss cost rates for the first time since 2008. Since that time, South Carolina employers had seen a 13 percent decrease in their lost cost.

–Greenville News reporter Rudolph Bell tweeted Tuesday that former state representative Rex Rice plans to challenge Sen. Larry Martin, a prominent state senator who has served in the legislature since 1979. Rice served in the House until his unsuccessful run for Congress in 2010. He received Martin’s endorsement at the time.

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