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February 20th, 2018
By Shelley Robbins
H. 4727, the SC Conservation Bank Reauthorization Bill, has passed the House by a vote of 107-3! See the vote count here. Please give your Representative a big thank you if you see them in the Yays column. And while Rep. Mike Pitts did not vote, he has also been instrumental in moving this bill forward. Passage happened much faster than we anticipated at the beginning of the session and we are grateful to Chairman Brian White for moving this bill along so quickly. Now the House bill crosses over to the Senate where it will be assigned to the Senate Finance Committee, chaired by Conservation Bank supporter Nikki Setzler. The Conservation Bank budget, a separate issue, will be taken up in the Senate Finance Natural Resources subcommittee on Thursday, February 22.
The Nuisance Bill was signed by the governor this past week. The Auto-Stay Bill (S. 105) remains on the House floor calendar, and we know that Representative Gary Clary (Pickens) will fight this bill on the floor as will Representative James Smith. The Plastic Bag "Ban Ban" assault on home rule (H. 3529) passed the House 73-41 and heads to the Senate Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee next. See the House vote count here.
The House has been consumed by energy issues over the past few weeks, and deservedly so. Of the package of six energy reform bills drafted by the House Ratepayer Protection Committee, four have passed and crossed over to the Senate. These four bills repeal the Base Load Review Act going forward (and temporarily roll back rate increases attributed to V.C. Summer), reform the Office of Regulatory Staff and create a much-needed consumer advocate, reform the Public Utilities Review Committee, and reform the Public Service Commission by adding professional qualification criteria and forcing the expiration of the terms of the current commissioners in either 2018 or 2019 depending upon Congressional district. The Upstate is largely Congressional District 4 and this seat is currently held by Elizabeth Fleming of Spartanburg.
A related Concurrent Resolution S. 954 was passed this week and it requires that the PSC rule on the Dominion SCANA merger between November 1 and December 21. It is not certain how the PSC reform bill and S. 954 will impact each other.
Additional bills that address the net metering cap and numerous other solar issues (H. 4421) and energy efficiency (H. 4425) as well as bills that promote more competition (S. 890 and H. 4796) will get their first committee hearing on Thursday.
Finally please see the information below about the 2018 Conservation Coalition Lobby Day and Oyster Roast! Thank you for taking action and have a great week.
A periodic tidbit to explain and demystify how the Statehouse works.
Several conservation organizations have lobbyists in Columbia, including Upstate Forever. Some are part of organizational staffs and some are contract lobbyists, but all of the lobbyists representing conservation issues adhere to the highest ethical standards. UF's contract lobbyist Bob Knight is working exclusively on the Conservation Bank reauthorization for us (and for you!). Most of these folks have been working on our common issues for years and are highly respected. Lobbyists track bills, attend committee meetings, monitor activity on the Chamber floor, meet with legislators, share information on our positions, dispel rumors, and let us know when we need to take action. They are our eyes and ears in Columbia, our boots on the ground. Come to Lobby Day on March 20 to meet many of these awesome folks.
Save the date: MARCH 20 Lobby Day and Oyster Roast
MARCH 20 is the date for the state conservation organization lobby day, organized by the South Carolina Conservation Coalition. Upstate Forever will provide transportation from our Greenville office to Columbia in the morning. We will gather for information and training and then head over to the Statehouse to tell our Legislators what our important issues are this year and to thank them for some great work. The day ends with a delicious oyster roast, an event that is also well attended by Legislators and tons of fun. Register here and then shoot me an e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org) letting me know of your interest and if you need transportation.