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March 28th, 2023
By Megan Chase-Muller
With the House on furlough, our focus last week was on the Senate. Read below for a breakdown of last week’s news from Senate committee meetings and actions on the floor.
Missed last week’s update? Click here for a Deep Dive on the DHEC restructuring bill.
Positive signs for the budget
Last week, the Senate Finance Committee heard from Frank Rainwater (SC Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office) for an update on state general fund revenues. With the good news that revenues are $535.7 million above the estimate (i.e., what House Ways and Means had to work with when they began the budget process earlier this year), we hope this will encourage both the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees to make sound, one-time investments that protect our state’s land and water resources.
Tools for Affordable Housing
We were also encouraged to see Senate Finance vote favorably on a bill that would increase the tools available to local municipalities for workforce housing. The Development of Workforce Housing Act (S.284) would authorize local municipalities to use revenues from local Accommodations Taxes and Hospitalities Taxes, usually reserved for tourism-related expenditures, for the development of affordable workforce housing.
Usually defined in South Carolina as housing that is appropriately priced for a person (or family) whose income falls between 80% and 120% of the Area Median Income (AMI), this bill intentionally provides a broad definition of “workforce housing” to allow municipalities to determine how to best serve the unique needs of their community.
This bill received support from local elected officials and advocates around the state, including Greenville City Councilwoman Dorothy Dowe and Greenville Housing Fund President Bryan Brown. In a letter to the committee supporting the bill, the City of Greenville stated “it believes a ready and ample supply of housing affordable to working households is critical to our community’s livability, inclusivity, and economic competitiveness.”
Thanks to Greenville Senator Karl Allen for his support, and to Greenville Senator Ross Turner for co-sponsoring this bill!
The bill now heads to the Senate Floor for a vote and could use your help encouraging other Senators to support it. Click here to find your Senator and here for help crafting your message.
For the past few weeks, we have been encouraging residents and advocates to join us at the Statehouse on April 5th for our Annual Conservation Lobby Day and Oyster Roast, hosted by the SC Conservation Coalition.
But just what is a lobby day and why should you participate? A lobby day is an event planned by coalitions of advocates to meet with lawmakers and their staff to educate them about priority issues. Often overlooked, but perhaps most importantly, is that these events allow you to build relationships with your legislators, tell your story, and listen to theirs.
If you’re able to join us on April 5th for our Conservation Lobby Day, you will receive training on how to lobby legislators and talking points related to our priorities, in addition to access to a team of conservation lobbyists and advocates who can help introduce you to legislators and statehouse staff. The best part? The day will end with an Oyster Roast at 701 Whaley Street in Columbia where advocates, staff, and legislators will gather in celebration of the growing conservation community.
We hope you’ll consider joining us for one or both of these events. Participation in this event is free, but we do request that you register online. Please don’t hesitate to reach out to me with any questions.
Click here to register and learn more about this event
Tuesday (3/28) at 3 pm: A House Ways and Means subcommittee has a packed agenda Tuesday, including both the DHEC Restructuring Bill (H.4124) and SC Conservation Enhancement Act (H.3786). Click here for last week’s Deep Dive on the DHEC bill and here for a look at the Conservation Enhancement Act.
Tuesday (3/28), 1.5 hours after adjournment: The Commercial Property Assessed Clean Energy and Resiliency (C-PACE) bill (S.3937) will be considered by a House Labor, Commerce, and Industry (LCI) Subcommittee. Already adopted in 37 states, this program would provide access to low-cost, long-term financing for agricultural, commercial, and multifamily residential properties to pursue measures that improve energy and water efficiency, resilience, and access to renewable energy equipment like solar panels. The Senate version of this bill (S.542) will get a hearing this week as well in a Senate LCI Subcommittee meeting on Wednesday (3/29) at 11:30 am.
Tues (3/28) at 3 pm: A bill we discussed back in January that would extend deadlines for development permits (H.3209) has passed the House and will be considered by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week.
As the effective Crossover deadline approaches the week of April 6, we expect the House to be busy advancing bills this week, so stay tuned for more news and opportunities to advocate for our priority bills.
Until next week...
State Policy Director
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