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Legislative Updates 2019: Week 17

Legislative Updates 2019: Week 17

May 5th, 2019
By Shelley Robbins

Three Days Remain

The highlights:

  • The Energy Freedom Act gets surprise second reading
  • Solar on Superfund hits the House floor
  • Offshore drilling resolutions advance
  • This week: budget + solar final votes

The details:

We had a good week. It went down to the wire, but we are poised to have a successful final week. THANK YOU. You have made the difference by communicating with your legislators. I will hold the champagne until 5pm on Thursday, that moment called sine die, when the legislature adjourns for the year. But I am cautiously optimistic.

In the Senate, the Santee Cooper question has dominated the last two weeks, holding the rest of the calendar hostage. A compromise on next steps for this very important issue was finally reached and approved on Thursday afternoon. We assumed no action would be taken on the solar bill H. 3659, called the Energy Freedom ActBut then the bill's Senate champion Senator Tom Davis rose and requested unanimous consent to give the bill second reading, holding any amendments as well as the roll call vote until third reading this coming Tuesday. His request was granted without opposition. We are immensely grateful to Senator Davis and to the full Senate for this.

This move saves us a day, and with only three days left, every day is critical. On Tuesday, the bill will be debated on the floor, amendments will be heard and voted upon, and then we will hopefully get the final vote. After that, the bill still needs to go back to the House for a concurrence vote. So you see why time is of the essence. Every moment counts. We would have never gotten this surprise unanimous consent if the entire Senate had not been hearing from you.

The solar bill has attracted national attention, as expected. See this article in Utility Dive and this editorial in the Post and Courier. For more information about the Santee Cooper compromise, see this article from the Post and Courier.

Solar on Superfund

Upstate Senator Danny Verdin's S. 362, Solar on Superfund, passed the full House Ways and Means Committee on Tuesday, April 30. It was placed on the House calendar on Thursday. We now have three days to get both second and third reading in the House chamber and then run back across to the Senate for a concurrence vote. It will be tight. The House will be taking up the Senate changes to the budget. But because this bill is uncontested, it should be near the top of the calendar.

Offshore drilling duelling resolutions

As happened in subcommittee, the full House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee passed both resolutions — one pro-drilling and one anti — and sent them to the floor, but it is not likely that the chamber will take them up this year. That does not mean the House will not debate the issue, however. Do you recall my update on the budget provisos a couple of weeks ago? Read on...

Up this final week:
The Budget (House) and Solar Votes (Senate)

I outlined the State Budget and proviso process in this Legislative Update and discussed the Senate's overwhelming approval of a proviso directed at preventing offshore drilling infrastructure that comes onshore. The House will now need to vote to concur or nonconcur with the Senate provisos. This means that even if the House does not take up the duelling drilling resolutions, they likely will be forced to show their hand by voting on the Senate proviso. I will report the outcome next week. The Santee Cooper compromise must also go to the House for concurrence. Any budget issues or bills that do not get a concurrence vote will go the Conference Committee after sine die. More on that next week.

In the Senate, the Energy Freedom Act will need its third reading, debate, and roll call in the Senate and then will need House concurrence. The Solar on Superfund Act will need second and third reading in the House and then Senate concurrence. And Raleigh West was approved as Executive Director of the Conservation Bank by the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee — congratulations to Raleigh! His confirmation will need to be approved on the floor to become final this year.

All of this needs to happen in three days. Well, here we go!


Would you rather receive these weekly Legislative Updates in your inbox? You can sign up to do so right here. The Legislative Update will hit your mailbox every Sunday evening during session (January through May).

Did your senator or representative do something awesome this week? Tell them! Use this link to find out who represents you, and if you love a bill they are supporting, please let them know. You can also just use the link to tell them what is important to you.

Until next week!

Shelley Robbins
Energy and State Policy Director

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