Legislative Updates 2024: Session Preview

January 10th, 2024
By Megan Chase-Muller

Welcome to the first legislative update of the new year

Today marks the first day of the 2024 Legislative Session. After a six-month pause, our state legislators will return to the Statehouse to complete the two-year legislative session.

Each week, we’ll send an update on legislative actions that affect the Upstate’s natural resources and communities, and provide opportunities to speak with legislators and meet fellow advocates. While we keep you informed about important happenings and ways to get involved, the SC Statehouse website is a great resource for viewing the weekly schedule, accessing the chamber video feeds, and seeing what meetings will be live-streamed.

Read below for a preview of what’s to come and the issues we’re focused on this year. Need a refresher on last year’s outcomes? You can find those here.

A Peek into 2024

Building on momentum from the 2023 Legislative Session and a number of committee meetings held this summer and fall, we can expect a busy first month in the Statehouse. Every legislator will be up for re-election this year which will bring hot-button issues to the forefront and another layer of pressure on legislators.

With our partners at the SC Conservation Coalition, we will continue to advocate for conservation and keep our priorities top of mind for legislators.

We’ll need your help, though! Every year, and especially during an election year, legislators want to hear from their constituents. Stay tuned each week for opportunities and tips for reaching out to your legislator.

Here are some of the issues we'll continue to focus on in 2024:

1) The Trails Tax Credit Bill (H.3121), championed by Spartanburg Representative Max Hyde, provides an income tax credit to property owners who add a trail easement to their land, helping our state keep up with the demand for public access to the outdoors.

Status: this bill passed the House and sits in the Senate Finance Committee.

2) The Working Agricultural Lands Preservation Act (H. 3951) was introduced by Greenville Representative Patrick Haddon, a farmer who wanted to help other farmers preserve their legacy and participate in conservation. The program created by this bill would leverage state dollars to provide modest financial compensation to qualifying landowners in exchange for a conservation easement that protects working farmland forever.

Status: this bill passed the House and sits in Senate Finance. 

3) Energy has remained top of mind for lawmakers in the off-season. With our clean energy partners, we have continued to have conversations with lawmakers about the future of energy generation. We have also followed the progress of the House Economic Development and Utility Modernization Committee, chaired by Belton Representative Jay West, and expect recommendations to manifest into legislation in January.

Lastly, we’ll begin to build a case for protecting property rights in landscape-scale decisions on major energy projects, ensuring landowners are equipped with information to engage with their utility provider and increasing transparency throughout the process. More on that in the weeks to come!  

Why do we do this work? A note on our Legislative Priorities 

To safeguard the vitality of the Upstate’s natural landscapes and communities, our priorities go beyond land protection. Each legislative session, we work with legislators, residents, and advocates to advance legislation that protects our water resources, increases landscape resilience and public access to the outdoors, facilitates access to clean energy for residents and businesses while keeping bills low, and measures that promote smart, balanced growth.

Join us: Conversations with Conservationists Senate Briefing
Wednesday, January 17th at 10:00 am

Upstate Forever is part of the South Carolina Conservation Coalition, an alliance of over 40 organizations working together on legislative issues that are important to our thousands of members across the state.

Each year, the Coalition kicks off the session with a Senate Briefing to present our priorities. This year, we will highlight:

  • Protecting SC’s waterways
  • Investing in Land Conservation
  • Supporting a clean and just energy transition

Invite your Senator!

Please consider joining us in person!

Please email me at mchase@upstateforever.org if you would like to coordinate travel or have any other questions.

As the session gains momentum, stay tuned for opportunities to get involved and learn more about the legislative 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

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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