Legislative Updates: February 6-10

February 14th, 2023
By Megan Chase-Muller

Week 5 in the statehouse


  • News from the Statehouse
  • Agency Spotlight: Office of Resilience
  • Two Action Alerts

With last Wednesday’s judicial elections taking center stage, we anticipated a quiet week for conservation but were pleasantly surprised to see a number of new bills introduced that could shape our legislative goals at the statehouse.

Missed last week’s update? Click here for a deep dive on the bill that would establish a Commission to address Heirs' Property issues.

Introduced Bills

The bill that would establish an Heirs’ Property Commission (S.436) gained support with a House companion bill (H.3903) introduced last week by Representatives Roger Kirby and Gil Gatch. Remember that a bill introduced in either chamber generally stands a better chance of success if it has a companion bill picking up support in the opposite chamber. Click here to read more about this legislation and the issues the new commission will address.

A new bill was introduced last week (H.3929) by Representative Jackie Hayes that would create a new State Trails Trust Fund with a portion of admissions tax revenues (from concerts and sporting events). The new fund would be administered by SCPRT to acquire property and develop trail systems throughout the state. This bill could be a good compliment to the Trails Tax Credit Bill (H.3121) re-introduced this year by Spartanburg Representative Max Hyde. Read below for a refresher on that bill and a related action alert.

A familiar piece of legislation was introduced that authorizes local governments to establish a Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy and Resiliency (C-PACE) Program. Already adopted in 37 states, this program would provide access to low-cost, long-term financing for agricultural, commercial, industrial, and multifamily residential properties to pursue measures that improve energy efficiency, water efficiency, resilience, and that help to install solar panels, EV charging infrastructure, and energy storage devices. With stated goals that merge economic development and job creation with clean energy and resilience, this is a bill to watch this year. However, a version of this legislation has come up year after year without substantial progress, so for now, we’re keeping an eye on it.

Photo by The Greenville News

Agency Spotlight: SC Office of Resilience

Last week’s Ways and Means budget subcommittee hearing on the Office of Resilience prompted questions about the Agency’s mission and the challenges facing our state from flooding – both coastal and inland – so let’s talk about the critical work being done at this agency and its significance to the Upstate.

The SC Office of Resilience (SCOR) was created with the passage of the SC Disaster Relief and Resilience Act in 2020. Its mission is to mitigate the impacts of natural disasters while proactively planning to increase the resilience of communities so they can better absorb and recover from severe storms and environmental change. The highly anticipated Statewide Resilience Plan will be released this summer and will provide a roadmap and concrete recommendations for our state to meet our resilience goals.

What’s clear is that this agency is accounting for resilience in every corner of the state, including the Upstate, which has seen dramatic increases in flooding from more intense precipitation events and development design that has not adapted to our changing climate. Click here for a primer from UF’s Clean Water Director, Erika Hollis, on how development will impact future flooding and water quality. 

With our conservation partners, we have spent the last year working with SCOR to incorporate principles in the State Resilience Plan that benefit Upstate communities (e.g., protections for floodplains, water-absorbing forests and wetlands, green infrastructure, and creative stormwater management). The Governor’s Floodwater Commission reported that when combined with smart growth policies at the local level, these nature-based solutions can help to slow floodwater and ensure our water resources are managed wisely. 

Want to learn more about this Agency’s work? Click here to access the agency’s latest resilience work, including new maps that overlay updated flood risks with social vulnerabilities.

Have you experienced flooding in the Upstate? Weigh in using SCOR’s Flooding Survey – this will help them prioritize future floodwater policies and mitigation measures.

two action alerts

As we enter into the sixth week of the legislative session, now is the time to start engaging with your legislators on issues that matter to you! Stretch those advocacy muscles and ask for your legislator's support on these two priority bills.

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

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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