Legislative Updates 2024: April 22 - 26

May 2nd, 2024
By Megan Chase-Muller

UF’s State Policy Director Megan Chase-Muller and UF Board member and farmer Margaret Harrison attended the celebratory signing of SC’s Working Agricultural Lands Preservation Act at Cottle Strawberry Farms in Hopkins, SC. Photo: SC Conservation Bank.


  • Governor joined by agriculture and conservation communities to celebrate the signing of the Working Agricultural Lands Preservation Act (H.3951)
  • Highlights from the Senate budget debate
  • New EPA emissions rules could change the calculus for the SC Energy Security Act


During the last six days of the legislative session, energy could take center stage, with the SC Energy Security Act (H.5118) and several bills incentivizing clean energy investment hanging in the balance. Read below for a recap of last week’s highlights and what to look for in the week ahead.

News from the Statehouse

Celebrating the signing of the Working Agricultural Lands Preservation Act

Last Tuesday, we witnessed South Carolina’s conservation and agricultural communities come together to celebrate the signing of the Working Agricultural Lands Preservation Act (H.3951). Hosted at Cottle Strawberry Farms in Hopkins, SC (purveyors of otherwordly strawberries), the Governor was joined by our state’s conservation and agricultural leaders to call attention to the critical need to preserve our agricultural heritage and to make land preservation more accessible for our state’s farmers. Thanks again to the bill’s sponsor, Representative Patrick Haddon (Greenville), and everyone who advocated for this bill!

Senate Budget debate:

In case you haven’t had enough of the continuing energy debate, the Senate’s Budget Week provided another avenue for legislators to discuss the underlying drivers for the SC Energy Security Act (H.5118). Several Senators proposed provisos on the Senate floor that would have placed restrictions on data centers, calling attention to their massive energy demands. Other provisos would have prevented the PSC from taking action on applications to construct new electric generating plants over 75 MW for the next year. While none of these provisos were adopted, they solidified concerns over the ongoing consideration of H.5118, leaving the next six days of session uncertain.

Adding to these concerns, the EPA recently released new regulations that require new natural gas plants designed for ‘base load’ generation to either capture 90% of their carbon dioxide emissions or cap their operation to run at 40% capacity. Our friends at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy explain how these rules are expected to affect natural gas expansion throughout the Southeast, raising questions about the financial viability of these plans. What’s clear is that these rules should change the calculus for utility plans and lawmakers deliberating on legislation like the SC Energy Security Act (H.5118).

Regarding other conservation priorities, the Senate Budget remains largely unchanged. One proviso that was adopted was a continuation of the moratorium on private, for-profit pipeline companies, from using eminent domain to construct liquid petroleum pipelines, mimicking language from a bill (S.1088) we discussed earlier this month.

You can find a summary of the Senate budget and how it compares to the House version here. The House now gets another shot at the budget, but the differences between the House and Senate versions will ultimately get worked out in a conference committee.

The Week Ahead

With just six legislative days left, committees will be consumed with legislation that has a chance of passing before Sine Die, the last day of the session.

Tuesday (4/30), one hour after the House adjourns: the House Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee will be taking up the C-PACE bill (S.542) we’ve supported as a means to expand access to financing for measures that improve energy and water efficiency as well as the installation of solar, battery storage, and EV charging infrastructure. With the fate of H.5118, a bill that came out of the House LCI Committee, remaining uncertain in the Senate chamber, however, the C-PACE bill may get caught in the crosshairs.

Until next week . . . 

Megan Chase-Muller
State Policy Director

Odds and Ends and Actions:

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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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