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Legislative Updates 2021: March 8-12

March 15th, 2021
By Shelley Robbins

WEEK 9 IN THE STATEHOUSE

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Trails Tax Credit ACTION ALERT
  • Deep Dive: HOA's, Solar, and the Homebuilders
  • Bill update: EV bill moves, e-waste and eminent domain update

We are halfway through the Spring 2021 Legislative Session! We are also approaching crossover in four weeks, so the good bills need to get moving! Speaking of that, H. 3120, the Trails Tax Credit bill I wrote about in the first Legislative Update of the 2021 Session, needs more sponsors so that leadership will understand just how important this bill is to community trails programs. Please use this ACTION CENTER to ask YOUR representative to sign on OR customize the message to THANK your Rep if they already have. And thank you to the bill's sponsor, Spartanburg Representative Max Hyde! This week will also be our Conservation Coalition Virtual Lobby Week, and thanks to everyone who has signed up to participate.

Deep Dive: HOA's, Solar, and the Homebuilders

Residential solar panel design has come a long way in recent years. Panels are now sleek and low profile and blend well with the roofline, and they are increasingly efficient, helping homeowners hedge ever-rising electricity costs. Third-party leasing allows even more folks to be able to put money-saving solar on their roofs without upfront costs.

To protect our right to put solar on our roofs, Taylors Representative Adam Morgan filed a wildly popular bill that prohibits homeowners associations from restricting or limiting the installation of a solar energy system. H. 3979, the Solar HOA Bill, immediately gained over 70 sponsors in the House, and for good reason.

Putting solar on your roof is a fundamental property right. But several homebuilders seem to think otherwise and have convinced many legislators, including a bunch from Spartanburg, to actually remove their names from the bill they originally supported.

Think about this. The homebuilder, who is long gone several years after a development is finished, is reaching forward in time to tell the people who live in that development that they are prohibited from saving money on their power bills. One of their arguments is that they want to protect their right to set restrictive covenants. But this argument is ridiculous. Solar panels only increase a home’s value, and they are part of the home’s energy system. Next will homebuilder-controlled HOA’s be dictating your HVAC? Or telling you that you can’t have an emergency generator? An industry that often complains of regulatory overreach is now guilty of overreach itself.

What can you do?

  1. Reach out to Representative Morgan and tell him thank you! 
  2. Take a look at the list of Representatives here who requested that their name be removed from the bill, and if you see yours, click on their name and ask them politely to please reconsider. A few messages from constituents may provide them just what they need. If you don't know who your representative is, you can use this link to find out.
  3. If your representative isn't on either list, ask them to sign on!

Bills On the Move

The Senate EV Charging Infrastructure bill S. 304, explained here, had a subcommittee hearing this past week and was amended to cover "mobile charging wagons." This amendment is similar to what the House subcommittee discussed a few weeks ago and is very forward-thinking. This bill will help speed up private investment in electric vehicle charging stations in South Carolina, and Upstate Forever fully supports it.

The bill we introduced last week (and support) that extends the electronic waste recovery and recycling program passed out of committee with a favorable report Thursday and is on the House floor on the uncontested calendar awaiting second reading. H. 4035 extends the program by another two years to give stakeholders time to work on a successor program. The bill is sponsored by Upstate Representative Davey Hiott, Chair of the House Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environmental Affairs Committee.

The liquid petroleum pipeline eminent domain bill H. 3524, profiled last week here, will get a hearing before a House Labor, Commerce and Industry subcommittee on Tuesday afternoon at 3pm. You can watch hereUpstate Forever supports this bill.

A Senate Judiciary subcommittee did not discuss Santee Cooper this past week as originally planned but has scheduled discussion for Wednesday after adjournment (watch here) and at 10am Thursday (livestream not yet scheduled).

Until next week...

Shelley Robbins
Energy and State Policy Director

ODDS AND ENDS AND ACTIONS:

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.

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