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Legislative Updates 2019: Week 1

Legislative Updates 2019: Week 1

January 13th, 2019
By Shelley Robbins

The SC Legislature opened the 2019-2020 Session on January 8, and Upstate Forever and the conservation community hit the ground running. On January 9, the same day as Governor Henry McMaster's inauguration, the SC Conservation Coalition hosted its annual Senate Briefing during which we outlined our Coalition legislative priorities for 2019. You can actually watch the recording of that briefing here. And you can read a summary of the priorities here. Upstate Forever serves on the Coalition Steering Committee.

You will see many of your Upstate legislators attended and a special shout-out to Greenville City Councilman Russell Stall who spoke about why a ban on offshore drilling matters in the Upstate (LSS: it's our coast too and Upstate citizens have invested a great deal in coastal properties and want it to stay beautiful and healthy).

The Big Story is ENERGY

On January 10, a bipartisan group of legislators (see photo above) held a press conference announcing their support and determination to pass significant clean energy legislation within the first 100 days of 2019. Upstate Forever is part of the 100 Day Clean Energy Agenda (cleanenergysc.com). Upstate legislative representation was terrific and included Greenville/Greer Representative Bobby Cox (District 21, shown in photo) speaking in support. Press coverage of the event can be found here.

The flagship bill for this effort is S. 332, the Clean Energy Access Act, filed by Senator Tom Davis. A companion bill will be filed in the House this coming week by Rep. Peter McCoy. We hope to see lots of Upstate co-sponsors added to both bills. In next week's Legislative Update, I will show the degree of SC support for increased access to solar energy as well as the massive impact solar energy has had on the Upstate economy.

Also on the energy front, we are excited to see bills filed by Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (H. 3336) and Upstate Senator Danny Verdin (S. 362) that would provide for tax credits for solar development on Superfund sites. Senator Verdin's bill extends the credits to Voluntary Cleanup Sites as well. This is an excellent way to make these sites economically productive again and we wholeheartedly support these bills and hope to see more Upstate co-sponsors. We will keep you posted on their progress.

Another Early Issue To Follow: Coal Ash

We were delighted to see that Upstate Rep. Davey Hiott filed H. 3483, repealing the sunset clause in the 2016 Act 138. This act significantly strengthened coal ash disposal requirements in South Carolina but will sunset in 2021 unless that sunset date is repealed. Rep. Hiott and Upstate Rep. Gary Clary were sponsors of the original bill (and former Upstate Senator Larry Martin sponsored the Senate bill). Unsafe disposal of coal ash is a potentially devastating issue in the Upstate and we are proud that members of our Upstate delegation have taken the lead on this issue.

There will be more issues to come, but we are off to an excellent start. I will update you on the prior week every Sunday evening. Follow the links below to take action on the 100 Day Clean Energy Agenda or simply to find out who your legislators are. Your legislators truly want to hear from YOU. And through the platform we use, 1) it is super easy, 2) you can customize your message, and 3) we can hold legislators accountable.

Until next week!

Shelley Robbins
Energy and State Policy Director

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