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April 26th, 2021
By Shelley Robbins
There are three weeks left in this year's session, which translates into only nine working days. Typically, legislators only need to be in Columbia on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday of each week. So in a nutshell, it's crunch time. The Senate Finance Committee completed its work on the State Budget ( H. 4100 and H. 4101), and added funding to the SC Conservation Bank as well as to the State Water Plan. The full Senate will now debate the budget this week before sending it back to the House.
Santee Cooper dominated floor debate this week and ended with a reform package that will require the state-owned utility to be regulated in a way that is similar to the investor-owned utilities (Dominion and Duke Energy). A sale is no longer being considered in this legislation. The Senate amended both its own bill, S. 464, and the House bill, H. 3194, with identical language, making it possible for the issue, which has been a dominant subject since the failure of the V.C. Summer nuclear plant in the summer of 2017, to finally be settled.
Last week, we noted that NextEra had sent a letter of renewed interest in purchasing the utility to Senate President Harvey Peeler and that this letter might have been intended to impact the floor debate. If that was the intent, it backfired and seemed to solidify the Senate's preference for reform over sale.
Upstate Forever supports the new language. It provides for much more scrutiny of Santee Cooper's future generation decisions and strengthens renewables and other non-fossil fuel options (thereby lessening, though not eliminating, the risk of yet another Upstate pipeline project). Here is an article from the Statehouse Report and here is the Post & Courier's coverage of the debate.
The House can concur with the Senate's changes now, or if they fail to do that, the bill will be worked out in a conference committee.
The hearing for S. 2 — the DHEC Breakup Bill — originally scheduled for April 7 and postponed an additional two times - is once again scheduled for a subcommittee hearing, exclusively to hear from the impacted agencies, including DHEC and DNR, on Wednesday, April 28 at 9:30 am. If the hearing is held, you can watch the livestream here. Read more about this bill here.
H. 3120, the Trails Tax Credit Bill filed by Spartanburg Representative Max Hyde will get a Ways and Means subcommittee hearing on Wednesday at 9 am. UF will be there to support the bill and you can watch the livestream here. Read more about the bill here. This will be a two year bill, but we are so glad to see it moving. See the Action Center for this bill below.
S. 304, Electric Vehicle Charging Stations is now on the House floor. If the House votes to pass the bill this week, it will head to the Governor's desk!
H. 4149 the Utility Whistleblower bill, filed by House Labor, Commerce and Industry Chairman Bill Sandifer, makes it unlawful for a public utility to retaliate against an employee whistleblower. This bill didn't make crossover this year but it has passed out of committee and is on the House calendar.
H. 4035 Electronic waste recycling sunset extension crossed over and made it out of a Senate subcommittee hearing unscathed. The bill is not yet scheduled for the full Senate Agriculture Committee.
H. 3524 Liquid petroleum pipelines eminent domain moratorium extension has crossed over and is still awaiting a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing.
H. 4062 Public Service Commission Third Party Experts has also crossed over and awaits a Senate Judiciary subcommittee hearing.
H. 3120 Trails Tax Credit Bill ACTION CENTER.
H. 3979 Solar HOA Bill ACTION CENTER.
H. 3514 PFAS Bill ACTION CENTER. Deep Dive on PFAS here. PFAS Lobby Week webinar featuring Upstate Forever's Clean Water Advocate Megan Chase here.
Until next week...
Energy and State Policy Director
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