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May 5th, 2019
By Shelley Robbins
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 Act. But 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.
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.
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...
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!
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Until next week!
Energy and State Policy Director