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Legislative Updates 2022: January 31 - February 4

February 7th, 2022
By Megan Chase

WEEK 4 IN THE STATEHOUSE

HIGHLIGHTS:

  • Bill Spotlight: Conservation Enhancement Act
  • News from the Statehouse
  • Resource for contacting legislators

Remember last week when we discussed the upcoming legislation that could bolster land protection efforts? We have another bill to add to the list that would create substantial revenue streams for land conservation. Read below for more.

Missed last week's update? Click here to get caught up on land protection bills.


Bill Spotlight

S.1039 – The SC Conservation Enhancement Act is a highly anticipated bill that was introduced in the Senate last Wednesday by Senator Chip Campsen, who — alongside Governor McMaster and Floodwater Commissioner Tom Mullikin — announced the concept for this bill last August. This bill would restore dependable revenue streams for land protection and management to the SC Conservation Bank and to other state agencies that own, lease, or manage lands for public use. Specifically, this bill:

  1. Restores the share of the deed recording fee (25 cents out of $1.30 collected by the state every time property changes hands) that was removed from the Conservation Bank budget years ago in favor of annual appropriations by legislators. According to Senator Campsen, the 25 cent share would have generated over $20 million this fiscal year.
  2. Establishes the Natural Resource Enhancement Fund for use by State Agencies on capital improvements of public lands – parks, forests, wildlife management areas, and heritage preserves. Each year, sales tax from sporting goods stores would be directed to this Fund with the ultimate goal of improving or restoring access to public lands and natural resources. 
  3. Adds the Commissioner of Agriculture, Secretary of Commerce, and Secretary of Transportation to the SC Conservation Bank Board.

Notably, this legislation calls for a doubling of protected lands by 2050, a bold but needed goal to build a network of resilient lands and safeguard our natural resources and economy. The financial mechanisms this bill provides are just some of the many tools that will be needed to achieve that goal.


News from the Statehouse

Dr. Edward Simmer, head of the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, made the case for long-overdue investments in DHEC’s staff, infrastructure, and environmental programs that cover everything from hazardous waste cleanup and dam safety to permitting and compliance inspections for the regulated community. He also requested funds to create a team of epidemiologists that could respond to public health crises and $100 million to replace the crumbling environmental and public health laboratory.  

The Wind Energy Bill (H.4831), which would direct the Department of Commerce to conduct an economic development study on offshore wind energy passed out of the House last week with overwhelming support and will now be taken up by the Senate. Did your representative support this bill? You can check here and thank them!


Resource: Contacting your Legislators

Ever hesitate to reach out to an elected official because you don't know where to begin? Upstate Forever's Energy Advocate, Michael Coleman, has created an easy-to-use guide on the most effective ways to engage with legislators. Click here to read it

Until next week...

Megan Chase
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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