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Legislative Updates 2024: February 26 - March 1

March 5th, 2024
By Megan Chase-Muller

highlights:

  • Hearings on the Ten-Year Energy Transformation Act draw over 100 advocates
  • Smart Growth Spotlight: A new bill to help counties balance growth by promoting Transferable Development Rights programs (H.4996)
  • Trails Tax Credit Bill (H.3121) passes Senate Finance Committee
  • NPDES Sign Bill (H.4958) gets hearing, needs support from residents and business community

Greetings!

Believe it or not, we are two months into the legislative session and the conservation community is hard at work to ensure our priorities are heard and honored during what can be an intense time of year. Read below for a recap of the Energy Transformation Act hearings and more Statehouse news.

Missed last week’s update where we discussed a new Senate committee on water resources and reviewed the first draft of the State Budget? You can read that update here.


Clockwise from top: Advocates gather on the Statehouse steps in opposition to H.5118, delivering comments to the LCI subcommittee, UF's Megan Chase-Muller, Michael Coleman, and Allie Martinsen in the "overflow" room during Tuesday's hearing.

News from the Statehouse

A week of hearings on the SC Ten-Year Energy Transformation Act reveals work to be done

Last week’s hearings on the Ten-Year Energy Transformation Act (H.5118) by the House LCI Public Utilities Subcommittee demonstrated the essential role of the public voice in decisions that fundamentally change the way we plan for, approve, and pay for major energy projects.

On Tuesday over 100 people gathered at the Statehouse, many taking time off work and traveling long distances, to express their concerns with H.5118 and speak for meaningful changes to protect ratepayers. You can find our deep dive that echoes these concerns and highlights the risks of this bill here

Thank you to everyone who showed up, tuned in, or reached out to their legislators about this bill! We have a long road ahead but know it will be made better with engaged residents and dedicated advocates throughout the process. When the LCI Subcommittee meets again this week, they will not take additional public testimony, but we hope they will continue to digest what they heard from advocates and consider thoughtful, appropriate action in response.

Missed the hearings? You can view the recordings here.


Smart Growth Spotlight

UF’s Land Planning Manager, Allie Martinsen, weighs in on a new bill that promotes Transferable Development Rights programs to help balance growth

Conversations surrounding how we meet rising energy demand from population and industrial growth have also highlighted the need for additional land planning tools local governments can use to accommodate that growth efficiently and economically.

A few weeks back, Representative Mark Smith (Berkeley) filed H.4996, a bill that would authorize and encourage local governments to voluntarily adopt Transferable Development Rights (TDR) programs that could be customized to fit local needs.

A TDR program is a land use planning tool that local governments can employ to achieve the dual purpose of protecting farmland and other environmentally sensitive areas, while guiding development where infrastructure already exists and where density is best absorbed. This process works by enabling development rights to be voluntarily transferred from “sending areas” (i.e. areas designated for conservation) to “receiving areas” (i.e. areas suitable of handling new development).

When implemented correctly, TDR programs pose a “triple win” for landowners in rural areas, developers in urbanizing areas, and the State of South Carolina as a whole. The TDR Bill (H.4996) reduces ambiguity by ensuring TDR programs are expressly permitted by state statute. In doing so, municipalities and counties may be more inclined to consider TDR programs when evaluating land use tools for conversation in the future.

As an organization committed to promoting smart, balanced growth throughout the Upstate, we applaud Representative Smith for introducing this bill and encourage other Upstate lawmakers to consider supporting this bill that can help their community.


Two priority bills on the move

We were thrilled to see the Trails Tax Credit Bill (H.3121) pass the full Senate Finance Committee last Tuesday and are expecting the Senate to take it up this week. Please consider reaching out to your Senator in support of this bill that will help our state keep up with the demand for public access to the outdoors through common-sense financial incentives like income tax credits. You can learn more about this bill here and find your Senator here.

The NPDES Sign Bill (H.4958) was taken up last Tuesday by the Environmental Affairs Subcommittee of the House Agriculture Committee, but the bill was carried over so the Subcommittee could continue discussion on the bill. Lawmakers, and especially those on the Subcommittee, need to hear support from residents and businesses on this bill, so please consider reaching out to them. You can find that list here and reach out to them here


The Week Ahead 

Tuesday (3/5), 1.5 hours after adjournment: The House LCI Public Utilities Subcommittee will meet again to discuss the Ten-Year Energy Transformation Act (H.5118). You can find the agenda here and watch the hearing here.

Wednesday (3/6), 9:00 am: The House 3M Municipal and Public Affairs Subcommittee will take up the above mentioned TDR bill (H.4996). You can find the agenda here and watch the hearing here.


Thank you to everyone who has taken action on these issues!

Be on the lookout for additional opportunities to get involved throughout the Legislative Session and learn more about the issues that affect our daily lives. We’ll continue to keep you informed on their progress and ways to get involved throughout the legislative session! 

Until next week...

Megan Chase-Muller
State Policy Director
mchase@upstateforever.org


Odds and Ends and Actions:

Did you receive this Update as a forward and want to sign up for it yourself? You can do so right here. The Legislative Update will hit your mailbox every week 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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