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April 5th, 2020
By Shelley Robbins
To avoid a budgetary crisis, both the House and the Senate will convene at 1pm on Wednesday, April 8. To learn the fate of many issues, this is a must-watch (safely, via livestream). Visitors will not be allowed in the Statehouse and distancing protocols will be followed, and while no one is thrilled at the idea of this gathering, Statehouse rules simply do not allow the chambers to vote on legislation without actually convening.
Watch the House livestream here on Wednesday at 1.
Watch the Senate livestream here on Wednesday at 1.
The Legislature will take up both a Continuing Resolution and a Sine Die Resolution. The Continuing Resolution allows the current agency budget levels to extend for another year in the event the Legislature is not able to come back to establish a new budget before June 30. The Sine Die Resolution (rhymes with tiny fly) allows the Legislature to come after the traditional May 14 sine die date, or ending date, to keep working on selected bills and issues. In an ordinary year, the Chambers would need to complete their work in 18 weeks, and this past week was Week 12. Finishing the State's business in the next 6 weeks is highly unlikely.
At issue in the Sine Die Resolution will be: what bills and issues get carried forward? The budget is a given, but what about Santee Cooper? The Turtle Bill? The RTO Study Joint Resolution? I will be watching on Wednesday to find out.
Another big issue is projected revenues for this year and next year. The SC Board of Economic Advisors will meet on Thursday, April 9 to discuss revised projections that will take into account the massive fiscal impact of COVID 19. You can learn more about that meeting here. I will report out on their findings in the next Legislative Update. Brace yourselves.
April 9 at 4:30pm: How's the Energy Freedom Act Going at the PSC (featuring Senator Tom Davis)
The next webinar in the series will focus on the implementation of the Energy Freedom Act (EFA), landmark legislation passed in 2019 to encourage competition and renewable energy investments in South Carolina. Last year the EFA put South Carolina in the national spotlight because it showed unanimous, bipartisan support for clean energy in our state. The Act, however, left a lot about energy competition in South Carolina to be decided by the Public Service Commission (PSC), a 7-member quasi-judicial body that oversees utilities in the state. In this webinar we will explore the PSC’s implementation of the EFA, which is best described as a roller coaster, with more downs than ups.
April 14 at 11:30am: Protecting the Landscapes We Love (hopefully featuring Senator Vincent Sheheen)
This webinar will focus on current land protection efforts at the state and federal levels. We’ll share information about the new “Thirty by Thirty” conservation goals in South Carolina and in Congress, that aim to protect 30% of our land and water by 2030. We’ll also chat about how we can accomplish this bold goal, through policies and programs like the Land and Water Conservation Fund.
Watch Santee Cooper and Clean Energy here (featuring Representative Nathan Ballentine)
Watch Offshore Drilling here (featuring Congressman Joe Cunningham)
A tentative schedule of upcoming webinars follows. The dates may be tweaked slightly and we may add some based on your input, but for now, here's the plan.
The Black Market Wildlife Trading Bill (H. 4831, aka The Turtle Bill) passed the House, sailed through committee in the Senate and now waits on the Senate floor. Read about the details and background on the bill here. Our Department of Natural Resources needs to have the tools necessary to keep our native amphibians and reptiles from winding up as part of black market overseas trading.
The RTO/Electricity Market Reform Study joint resolution H. 4940 passed the House and is in committee in the Senate. Read more here.
Senator Sheheen's Thirty-By-Thirty Conservation Act (S. 1024) and his Organic Waste Reduction Study joint resolution (S. 1022) were both scheduled for subcommittee meetings last week, but those meetings were cancelled. Read more about both here.
A pair of House and Senate bills (H. 4718 and S. 1111) require SC DHEC to set limits on the family of perfluoroalkyl substances (known as PFAs) in our water. Read more about this issue here. They haven't moved yet. Establishing a state limit without waiting for a sluggish federal response will help impacted communities get access to resources they need, such as clean drinking water, faster. Upstate co-sponsors to date include Senators Shane Martin, Floyd Nicholson, Scott Talley, and Rex Rice, and Representatives Leola Robinson, Jason Elliott, and Gary Clary.
The House offshore drilling bill H. 3087 and the Senate offshore drilling bill S. 870 are both still awaiting floor votes.
H. 4776 which increases the time a PSC commissioner must wait after leaving office to represent a client before the PSC, passed the House and awaits a Senate Judiciary hearing. Upstate co-sponsors include Representatives Eddie Tallon, Rita Allison, Max Hyde, John McCravy, and Gary Clary.
House and Senate HOA Solar Access Bills (H. 5011 and S. 1032) have not yet had subcommittee hearings. I discussed those bills here .
The notorious Plastics "Ban Ban" bill S. 394 (discussed here ) is on the contested calendar on the Senate floor, where we hope it will stay.
Senator Sheheen's S. 1023, a joint resolution directing DHEC to study microplastics pollution, passed out of a Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee but awaits a full committee hearing.
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I will continue to send out weekly updates about Statehouse and Conservation Coalition activity. Until next week!
Energy and State Policy Director