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April 5th, 2023
By Megan Chase-Muller
The mad dash to get bills past the “crossover” threshold has begun. Remember, April 10 is the deadline by which a bill needs to have passed out of its originating chamber before heading to the other, which means this Thursday is the effective deadline. Bills would need a two-thirds vote to waive this rule to be considered beyond this date. Read below for a look at last week’s news and what to expect this week.
Missed last week’s update? Click here for information on the upcoming Conservation Lobby Day and new tools for affordable housing.
Headed to the Senate
The Working Lands Preservation Act (H.3951) is headed to the Senate after receiving a favorable vote in the House! This bill would provide an essential funding tool dedicated to helping landowners preserve working agricultural lands through voluntary conservation easements. The bill establishes the Working Agricultural Lands Preservation Program and Fund, and creates a oversight committee for distribution of the Fund, which will be housed under the SC Conservation Bank as a separate line item in the budget. With last week’s amendment adding the South Carolina Black Farmers Coalition to the Oversight Committee, we are happy this bill continues to gain support.
Headed to the House
The Development of Workforce Housing Act (S.284), a bill we discussed last week, is headed to the House after passing the Senate with amendments. This bill would authorize local municipalities to use revenues from local Accommodations Taxes and Hospitalities Taxes for the development of affordable workforce housing.
A substantial amendment was adopted that adds provisions to promote home ownership within this program, requires local governments to prepare a housing impact analysis before use of the funds, adds definitions and clarifications, and includes a Land Development Study Committee to look at methods to plan for and manage land development in the state. This Committee will be made up of members of the House and Senate, and will seek assistance from a number of advocate groups, including conservation groups and land trusts.
Two bills we have been closely following and advocating for, the Conservation Enhancement Act (H.3786) and the DHEC Restructuring Bill (H.4124), passed favorably out of the House Ways and Means Committee last week and will be up for consideration on the House floor this week.
The Conservation Enhancement Act (H.3786) would restore a portion of the deed stamp fee (25 cents of every $1.30 collected) to fund the SC Conservation Bank, tying development to conservation. This bill remains largely intact after the committee process, with just one amendment to change the effective date from July 1, 2022 to July 1, 2024. Thanks to Greenville Representatives Chandra Dillard and Wendell Jones for signing on as co-sponsors to this bill last week!
Concerning the DHEC Split, we’ve mostly referenced the Senate version of this bill, but another bill has been gaining traction. Speaker of the House Murrell Smith filed a version of the DHEC Restructuring Bill earlier in March (H.4124) that has picked up support among environmental advocates. As amended in committee, this bill allows the State Water Planning process to remain at the Department of Natural Resources, a provision in previous iterations we’ve had concerns with. This bill also preserves the 2018 compromise involving the automatic stay of DHEC permit decisions. We support this bill as amended and are grateful to Chairman Bannister and members of the Ways and Means Committee for their work on this bill.
Both of these bills will likely come up for consideration on the House floor tomorrow (Wednesday, 4/5), so please reach out to your representative to ask them to vote in favor of both of these bills. Click here to find your representative.
The Senate Finance Committee is in its Budget Deliberations Week, so we'll soon see the full scope of this Committee's changes to the House version of the budget. Yesterday (4/3) they discussed recommended changes to the provisos, which can be found here.
The Senate is otherwise in a perfunctory session, and most members will not be at the Statehouse, so we'll be focusing on the House as they consider bills to make the crossover deadline.
Until next week...
State Policy Director
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