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Legislative Updates: February 13-17

February 21st, 2023

Week 6 in the statehouse

Highlights: 

  • News from the Statehouse
  • Deep Dive: EVs in SC

Believe it or not, we're through a third of the 2022 Legislative Session and it has been packed with positive steps for land conservation and healthy communities. Read below for the rundown of last week’s news from the Statehouse. You can find recaps from the first six weeks here.

Missed last week’s update? Click here for a spotlight on the Office of Resilience.


News from the Statehouse

Finances and social issues continued to take their usual spotlight in Statehouse conversations last week. A House Ways and Means Subcommittee considered budget provisos, one of the last steps before the House version of the State Budget is drafted. You can read more about the budget process here.

Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee has been hearing from state agencies on their budget requests, including the SC Office of Resilience and the Office of Regulatory Staff.

Our lawmakers have been busy filing more legislation as well! Read below for a breakdown of some of the new bills we're following.


Introduced BillS

The Working Lands Preservation Act (H.3951) was introduced last Tuesday by Upstate Representatives Patrick Haddon, Bill Hixon, Chairman Bruce Bannister, Majority Leader Davey Hiott, and House Speaker Murrell Smith.

´╗┐This bill would create a program and selection committee adjacent to the Conservation Bank to oversee the distribution of matching grant funds to permanently protect working farmlands and timber properties.

Upstate Forever’s Land Trust currently protects over 11,000 acres of active farms throughout the Upstate, many with assistance from the SC Conservation Bank, and welcomes the additional tools devoted to the essential cause of protecting our working lands.

The C-PACE (Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy) Bill (H.3937) we mentioned in our last Update received support on Thursday with a Senate companion bill filed by Senator Tom Davis (S.542).

Representative Nathan Ballentine filed two bills that could provide further incentives for the adoption of solar and energy storage devices for South Carolinians. (H.3949) would provide new sales tax exemptions for solar energy equipment, facilities, and associated energy storage devices while (H.3948) would make more solar energy equipment, devices, and facilities eligible for property tax exemptions.


deep dive: electric vehicles in sc

UF's Energy Advocate, Michael Coleman, joined me last week for an EV "Ride and Drive" event for legislators hosted by our friends at the Southern Alliance for Clean Energy and Conservation Voters SC. A big thank you to Upstate Representative Bobby Cox and Senator Scott Talley for supporting the event as well.

The excitement from legislators, staff, and advocates last Wednesday mirrored state-level conversations about the electrification of SC's transportation sector. The Upstate has been at the center of that innovation, with companies like BMW and Proterra making transformational investments in EV and battery manufacturing.

As we prepare for more EVs to hit the market, the National Electric Vehicle Charging Network (NEVI), funded by the Federal Infrastructure Investment and Jobs Act, will help accelerate the rollout of charging stations across the country. South Carolina's NEVI plan has been approved by the USDOT and will prioritize locating charging equipment along interstates to complement the completion of the national network.

Governor McMaster issued an Executive Order last fall directing the Department of Commerce to designate an EV Coordinator and create a centralized resource - SC Powers EV - for consumers and the business community. SC’s EV Coordinator will serve as a resource for the business community, as well as federal, state, and local government entities and members of the public for EV-related information.

State Lawmakers are also considering ways to facilitate the growth of the EV industry in SC. The Alternative Fuel Tax Credit (H.3824) would grant an income tax credit to municipalities, state agencies, individuals, or businesses that install EV charging infrastructure. Our friends at CVSC have created an easy action alert you can use to encourage your representative to cosponsor this legislation - or thank them if they've already done so!


two action alerts

The Trails Tax Credit Bill (H.3121) would expand public access to green spaces by providing an income tax credit (10 cents per square foot) to property owners who agree to add a voluntary, perpetual trail easement. We were thrilled to see new co-sponsors added recently, but we would love to see more Upstate voices support this bill that would empower residents to build access to green spaces.

The Conservation Enhancement Act (S.280/H.3786) would restore a portion of the deed stamp fee (25 cents of every $1.30 collected) to fund the SC Conservation Bank, which is - in our opinion - a sensible approach to protecting land and water resources for future generations.

Not sure who represents you? Click here to find your SC legislators.

Unsure what to say to your legislator? You can find tips on how to have a productive conversation with your legislator here.

Stay tuned for opportunities to get involved and learn more about upcoming legislative issues. 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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