Thursday was a slow day in the South Carolina General Assembly as legislators wrapped up their first week of 2012.
The House approved Senate amendments to a bill that bans “transfer fees” in South Carolina. The legislation now heads to Governor Nikki Haley for her signature. The term is used to describe a practice in which the original developer of a property gets a percentage of the purchase price each time the property is sold in ensuing years. Common practice is a one percent fee for 99 years. Developers and real estate agents oppose the fee, calling it a “private tax.”
— The House also passed a resolution pledging to create a special committee to study school district consolidation. Many in the legislature argue that the state has too many school districts and that counties should combine many of those districts (Spartanburg, for example, has seven while Greenville and Charleston counties have one each). However, others say it’s an issue that should be determined on a local level, without legislative interference. The resolution now heads to the Senate.
— Senators moved forward with a bill that tries to stop salvage yards from scrapping stolen cars. A Senate judiciary panel heard testimony on the bill for a second day Thursday. The legislation would require salvage yards to report a Vehicle Identification Number for vehicles they buy to a state database. The database would then check to ensure the car was not stolen. The bill is sponsored by Sen. Joel Lourie (D-Columbia).
— Senators on a Medical Affairs subcommittee passed along a bill by Sen. Harvey Peeler (R-Gaffney) that would give DHEC more power to regulate drugs. Right now, only the Legislature has the ability to ban any substances when it’s in session. The issue cropped up when health officials wanted to ban synthetic marijuana and “bath salts” last fall, but lacked the means to do so. Many fear the General Assembly cannot respond fast enough as new compounds pop up. The bill lists over 100 chemicals that could be regulated.
— The director of the state’s workforce agency explained new unemployment requirements to members of a Senate Labor committee Thursday. Department of Employment and Workforce director Abraham Turner said employees who lose their job for “improper performance” will have to wait 10 weeks longer to receive their benefits.
— Two Lowcountry senators bashed DHEC’s decision to approve the Savannah River dredging in November on a special SC ETV broadcast Thursday. On the weekly online program “This Week in the Senate,” state Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort) and Sen. Larry Grooms (R-Bonneau) said the dredging would “kill” the river environmentally. Both also accused Georgia of acting in bad faith on a joint terminal at Jasper Ocean Terminal.