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March 1st, 2021
By Shelley Robbins
Time is flying and we are in the seventh week of session. COVID-19 continues to reduce public access to the Statehouse. Ordinarily, the Statehouse lobby would be bustling with both registered lobbyists and ordinary citizens. And there would be sponsored legislative breakfasts, lunches, and receptions offering even more face to face interaction between citizens and their senators and representatives. But not this year. The lobby is quiet.
On the upside, the vast majority of committee meetings are now streamed live and accessible for the public to watch, adding transparency to the process. To see what is happening in the Statehouse, check out the Statehouse website here. There's also an app if you really want to nerd out!
For the second year in a row, COVID-19 prevents an in-person Conservation Lobby Day. But on the bright side, the Conservation Coalition will host a Virtual Lobby Week, which means more people can participate! Lobby Week will be March 15-18 and will start on that Monday at noon with a Zoom training and briefing session. Each day, you'll receive a morning e-mail with an issue for the day and a digital action. There will be two deep dive webinars in the middle of the week and it will close on Thursday at 5:30 with a Virtual Happy Hour and a short film screening.
Even if you can't do it all but are still interested, go ahead and register here (where there are more details) and you will be kept in the loop. This year, our legislators are pretty isolated in Columbia, but they still need to hear from you. There are so many exciting conservation issues to talk about! And technically, you can do this in your pajamas, if you wish. So please register and then join us for some or all. And hopefully next year we will be back in person meeting in the lobby and then slurping down oysters, together.
We frequently hear from residents frustrated with their Homeowners Associations for prohibiting rooftop solar panels, and bills addressing this have been filed in the past. But this year's bill, H. 3979, filed this week by Representative Adam Morgan from Taylors, has a boatload of co-sponsors (71 at our last count). This is a strong indicator that this bill supporting the individual homeowner's rights will move forward.
Another great bill filed this week establishes a study committee to address heirs property issues. H. 3926 was filed by Representative JA Moore and Greenville Representative Chandra Dillard. It has a Senate companion S. 560.
For more information about heirs property, check out this great article by UF's Megan Burton about Black land loss in South Carolina. She noted that the heirs property issue is considered the greatest contributor to involuntary African American land loss.
The Pyrolysis Bill, S. 525, that was debated in the full Senate Medical Affairs Committee and passed out without being amended to provide taxpayer protections is now on the Senate calendar but it has been "contested" by a senator and will not be debated on the floor for the time being.
Until next week...
Energy and State Policy Director
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