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Legislative Update
January 25, 2011
Vol. 28, No. 03

South Carolina House of Representatives
Robert W. Harrell, Jr., Speaker of the House

OFFICE OF RESEARCH AND CONSTITUENT SERVICES
Room 212, Blatt Building, P.O. Box 11867, Columbia, S.C. 29211, (803) 734-3230

CONTENTS

NOTE: THESE SUMMARIES ARE PREPARED BY THE STAFF OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND ARE NOT THE EXPRESSION OF THE LEGISLATION'S SPONSOR(S) OR THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. THEY ARE STRICTLY FOR THE INTERNAL USE AND BENEFIT OF MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND ARE NOT TO BE CONSTRUED BY A COURT OF LAW AS AN EXPRESSION OF LEGISLATIVE INTENT.


Legislative Update, January 25, 2011

HOUSE WEEK IN REVIEW

The House of Representatives approved and sent to the Senate H.3286. This bill revises provisions relating to the PAYMENT OF EXTENDED UNEMPLOYMENT BENEFITS when federally funded, so as to change the method for calculating certain funding indicators by basing the calculation on one or more three-month periods ending the preceding three calendar years.

The House approved and sent to the Senate H.3303, a joint resolutionPROMOTING MAJOR GENERAL STANHOPE S. SPEARS TO THE RANK OF LIEUTENANT GENERAL OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA ARMY NATIONAL GUARD effective January 11, 2011.


HOUSE COMMITTEE ACTION

AGRICULTURE, NATURAL RESOURCES, AND
ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS

The full Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environmental Affairs Committee did not meet this week.

EDUCATION AND PUBLIC WORKS

The full Education and Public Works Committee did not meet this week.

JUDICIARY

The Judiciary Committee met on Tuesday, January 18, and reported out two items.

H.3285, a PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT REQUIRING CERTAIN BILLS AND JOINT RESOLUTIONS TO RECEIVE A RECORDED ROLL CALL VOTE AT VARIOUS STAGES OF THEIR PASSAGE BY THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND THE SENATE, received a favorable with amendment report from the Judiciary Committee. This legislation proposes to amend the State Constitution so as to require the respective Houses of the General Assembly to conduct recorded roll call votes for the Annual General Appropriations Bill and certain other bills and joint resolutions whenever the pending question is adoption of a Conference Report or Free Conference Report, passage of a bill or joint resolution on second reading, either the House of Representatives or the Senate concurs or nonconcurs in the other body's amendment, or a bill or joint resolution is amended subsequent to second reading and the pending question is the passage of a bill or joint resolution on third reading. The proposed amendment must be submitted to the qualified electors at the next general election for representatives.

The Judiciary Committee also gave a favorable with amendment report toH.3003, which establishes a PHOTOGRAPH IDENTIFICATION REQUIREMENT FOR VOTING. This legislation requires the State Elections Commission to implement a system for issuing voter registration cards with a photograph of the elector; this voter registration card may be used for voting purposes only. Under the legislation, when a person presents himself to vote, he shall produce a valid South Carolina driver’s license, or other form of identification containing a photograph issued by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV), or a passport, or a military photo identification issued by the federal government, or a South Carolina voter registration card containing a photograph. The legislation requires one of the managers to compare the photograph contained on the required identification with the person presenting himself to vote and verify that the photograph is that of the person seeking to vote. If the elector cannot produce a valid South Carolina driver’s license or other approved form of identification, the elector may cast a provisional ballot that is counted only if the elector brings a valid photo identification to the board of voter registration prior to certification by the county board of canvassers. If the manager disputes that the photograph contained on the required identification is the person presenting himself to vote, the legislation establishes a process allowing the elector to cast a provisional ballot. The legislation provides an alternate process of affirming identity through completing an affidavit under penalty of perjury at the polling place and casting a provisional ballot in situations where an elector has a religious objection to being photographed or suffers from a reasonable impediment that prevents the elector from obtaining photograph identification. The State Election Commission is directed to create a list of all registered voters that do not have a form of identification with a photograph issued by the DMV. This list must be made available to registered voters upon request. The commission may charge a reasonable fee for the provision of the list in order to recover costs of producing the list. The DMV shall provide a list of persons issued identification with a photograph at no cost to the commission. The legislation requires the DMV to issue a special identification card to a person who is at least seventeen years old at no charge; currently, there is a fee for the issuance of this special identification card. The DMV may resume charging the fee once the State Election Commission certifies it has implemented statewide the issuance of voter registration cards with a photograph. Currently, the DMV may issue special identification cards to a person ten years or older; this bill allows DMV to issue special identification cards to a person five years of age or older. Among other duties, the legislation requires the executive director of the State Election Commission to enter into the master file a separate designation each for voters casting absentee ballots in a general election. If an elector loses or defaces his registration, he may obtain a duplicate notification from his county board of registration upon request. Also, the legislation includes factors to consider in determining a person’s intention regarding domicile. The State Election Commission is required to establish a voter education program concerning the new provisions and to implement necessary accommodations to allow voting in each county to comply with the Help America Vote Act.

LABOR, COMMERCE AND INDUSTRY

The full committee did not meet this week.

MEDICAL, MILITARY, PUBLIC AND MUNICIPAL AFFAIRS

The Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs Committee met on Tuesday, January 18, 2011, to adopt the rules of the committee.

WAYS AND MEANS

On Thursday, January 20, the Ways and Means Committee conducted a forum on the state government budget shortfall to illustrate the size of budget cuts needed in the upcoming fiscal year in order to substitute recurring state dollars for various amounts of the one-time federal stimulus funds included in the budget for the current fiscal year.


BILLS INTRODUCED IN THE
HOUSE THIS WEEK

AGRICULTURE, NATURAL RESOURCES, AND
ENVIRONMENTAL AFFAIRS

H.3372 UNLAWFUL REMOVAL OR DESTRUCTION OF ELECTRONIC DOG COLLARS REP. Hixon
This bill adds that it is unlawful to intentionally remove or destroy an electronic collar or other electronic device placed on a dog by its owner to maintain control of the dog. A person who violates this provision is guilty of a misdemeanor.

H.3374 INTERSTATE WILDLIFE VIOLATOR COMPACT Rep. Hixon
The Governor shall execute an Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact on behalf of the State of South Carolina with any state of the United States legally joining. The purposes of this compact are to provide a means through which the party states may participate in a reciprocal program to effectuate policies relating to the management of wildlife in a uniform and orderly manner and to provide for the fair and impartial treatment of wildlife violators operating within party states in recognition of the person’s right of due process and the sovereign status of a party state.

H.3389 LANDFILLS Rep. R. L. Brown
This bill provides for a specific manner for the construction of sanitary landfills for the disposal of construction and demolition debris waste.

EDUCATION AND PUBLIC WORKS

H.3334 SCHOOL CALENDAR AND MAKE-UP DAYS Rep. King
This legislation prohibits a school district from designating Martin Luther King, Jr. day as a potential make-up day when the schools are closed due to inclement weather or other disruptions.

H.3347 ADMISSION INTO TECHNICAL INSTITUTION PROGRAMSRep. Lowe
This legislation requires a technical institution to develop criteria for admission into each program of study that receives more applicants who meet the minimum requirements than it has space available in at least two of the three prior academic years. These criteria must create a competitive admission process designed to allow the best applicants entrance into the program. The institution shall submit these criteria to the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education for approval by January 1, 2012, to be put into effect beginning with the 2012-2013 academic year. These criteria may give preference to applicants who reside within the region in which the institution is located, but residency may not exceed five percent of the total competitive admission process criteria.

H.3355 NAMING A ROAD, BRIDGE OR OTHER HIGHWAY FACILITY IN HONOR OF AN INDIVIDUAL Rep. Toole
The legislation provides that unless a road, bridge, or other highway facility is dedicated and named in honor of either a serviceman, law enforcement officer, or fireman killed in the line of duty, public funds may not be used to reimburse the Department of Transportation for expenses it incurs. If, however, money to fund the erection of a sign is raised privately, signs may be erected in honor of an individual. The legislation also provides that, before June 30, 2011, no ‘C’ Fund or General Fund revenues may be used to defray the costs of purchasing or erecting signs for traffic generators, except for those traffic generators that are included in Department of Transportation regulations.

H.3357 NO FEE FOR TAKING THE GENERAL EDUCATIONAL DEVELOPMENT EXAM (GED) FOR CERTAIN STUDENTS Rep. Toole
This bill provides that a person who is enrolled in a state sponsored adult education program in the school district in which he resides may take the General Educational Development Exam (GED) free of charge if he meets all requirements of the adult education program, including attendance, and scores at least a 2400 on a practice GED exam. To the extent necessary to reimburse the State Department of Education for expenses incurred during the administration of the exam, funds must be deducted in a pro rata amount from funds appropriated for the LIFE Scholarship, HOPE Scholarship, Palmetto Fellows Scholarship, the Need Based Grants program, and the Tuition Assistance program.

H.3358 ABOLITION OF COUNTY BOARDS OF EDUCATION Rep. Toole
This legislation abolishes every county board of education in existence on January 1, 2011. All powers and duties of the individual county boards of education are devolved upon the boards of trustees of the local school districts of the county. The millage constituting the minimum foundation funding and financial support for the public schools of the county must be administered annually by the county treasurer and must be divided equally, on an annual basis, among the local school districts of the county, with each of the districts receiving an equal share of the revenue generated each year from the millage. The assets of the county board of education must be sold and the proceeds from the sale must be equally divided among the local school districts of the county.

H.3390 PETITIONING A COURT TO ABANDON OR CLOSE A STREET, ROAD, OR HIGHWAY Rep. R. L. Brown
Relating to petitioning a court to abandon or close a street, road, or highway, this legislation provides that notice of intention to file a petition must be posted along the street, road, or highway subject to the approval of the location of the posting by the governmental entity responsible for maintenance of the street, road, or highway.

JUDICIARY

H.3335 "FRIENDSHIP NINE ACT" Rep. King
This legislation enacts the "Friendship Nine Act". The legislation provides a procedure whereby a person may obtain a pardon for a conviction for conduct related to the protesting or challenging of a state law, or a county or municipal ordinance whose purpose was to maintain racial segregation or racial discrimination of individuals. This applies to convictions obtained prior to January 1, 1980. If the convicted person is deceased, the application and petition for the pardon may be filed by a person who has legal authority to act on behalf of the deceased person. A person who receives a pardon pursuant to these provisions shall have his pardon application fee refunded to him within 30 days of the date the pardon is granted.

H.3341 ESTABLISHMENT OF THE OFFENSE OF EXPOSING A CHILD TO METHAMPHETAMINE WHEN SERIOUS BODILY INJURY TO A MINOR CHILD RESULTS Rep. Stringer
This legislation establishes the offense of exposing a child to methamphetamine when serious bodily injury to a minor child results. This is a felony offense and, upon conviction, a person must be fined not more than $50,000 dollars or imprisoned for a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of five years nor more than twenty years. No part of the mandatory minimum may be suspended nor may probation be granted.

H.3342 OFFICE OF MOTOR VEHICLES HEARINGS Rep. Harrison
Among other things, this bill replaces the term "administrative hearing" with the term "contested hearing" with regards to certain hearings before the Office of Motor Vehicles. The bill also increases the filing fee for a contested case from $100 to $200 dollars. These funds must first be used to meet the expenses of the Office of Motor Vehicle Hearings, including the salaries of its employees as directed by the chief judge of the Administrative Law Court.

H.3349 QUALIFICATIONS FOR REGISTERING TO VOTE FOR SOMEONE WHO HAS NEVER LIVED IN THE UNITED STATES Rep. Clemmons
This legislation outlines qualifications for registering to vote for someone who has never lived in the United States but has a parent who is a qualified elector. Under this bill that person is eligible to register and vote where the person's parent is a qualified elector. The bill requires the person not to be registered anywhere else. The bill also authorizes a person to vote by absentee ballot if he or a parent last resided in this state immediately before his or his parents’ departure from the United States.

H.3356 PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PERTAINING TO THE LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT Rep. Toole
This joint resolution proposes to amend the State Constitution so as to provide that a bill or joint resolution imposing or increasing a tax, the revenue of which is credited to the general fund of the State, may not become law without the approval of three-fifths of the membership elected to the House of Representatives and three-fifths of the membership elected to the Senate. The proposed amendment must be submitted to the qualified electors at the next general election for representatives.

H.3359 PROPOSED CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT PERTAINING TO THE LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT Rep. Toole
This joint resolution proposes to amend the State Constitution so as to provide that a bill or joint resolution imposing or increasing a fee may not become law without the approval of three-fifths of the membership elected to the House of Representatives and three-fifths of the membership elected to the Senate. The proposed amendment must be submitted to the qualified electors at the next general election for representatives.

H.3375 "SOUTH CAROLINA FAIRNESS IN CIVIL JUSTICE ACT OF 2011" Rep. Harrell
This legislation enacts the "South Carolina Fairness in Civil Justice Act of 2011," which outlines tort reform provisions. Torts are private or civil wrongs for which the court provides a remedy, usually in the form of damages. The legislation caps the award of punitive damages at three times compensatory damages or $350,000, whichever is greater. The limitation on punitive damages does not apply in situations involving: intentional conduct; conviction of a felony criminal charge in the course of conduct that gives rise to the damages; and intoxication. The bill provides that (1) a claim for punitive damages must be specifically prayed for in a complaint; (2) the plaintiff shall not specifically plead an amount of punitive damages, only that punitive damages are sought;(3) a bifurcated trial on punitive damages must be held before the same finder of fact; and (4) a "clear and convincing" evidence standard must be used for an award of punitive damages with eleven factors to be considered by the finder of fact in awarding punitive damages. A part of this legislation is the "Private Attorney Retention Sunshine Act". The bill establishes parameters under which the Attorney General or a circuit solicitor may retain outside counsel. The bill sets up a sliding scale for compensation to be received by the outside counsel based upon the amount of the award. The Attorney General or circuit solicitor shall retain 10% of outside counsel’s fees, and all other proceeds are to be used for the State of South Carolina based on the Attorney General or solicitor’s judgment. Outside counsel must provide the Attorney General or solicitor a detailed account of all work performed each month. Outside counsel shall only be reimbursed for reasonable costs and expenses when expressly authorized by the Attorney General or solicitor. A circuit solicitor or the Attorney General may depart from the guidelines by publicly disclosing the reasons for the departure and that the departure was in the best interests of the State; this information is public record subject to disclosure pursuant to the Freedom of Information Act. The bill makes revisions to the Statute of Repose. The bill provides that building code violations do not constitute per se fraud, gross negligence or recklessness, but such violations may be introduced as evidence of fraud, gross negligence, or recklessness. The legislation establishes a cap on the bond a business must post to file an appeal in a civil lawsuit. The legislation limits the amount of an appeal bond that a court can order posted to the amount of the judgment or $25 million dollars for a large business or $ 1 million for a small business or individual, whichever is less. Small and large businesses are defined based on gross receipts and number of employees. Also, the legislation repeals the current statutory prohibition on admissibility of failure to use a seat belt.

H.3376 DISCLOSURE OF INFORMATION TO LAW ENFORCEMENTRep. Limehouse
This legislation provides that when a college or university campus police department becomes aware that a student has been suspended, expelled, or withdrew from the college or university for engaging in disruptive or antisocial behavior, then the campus police department must release all files and information in its possession relating to the student's suspension, expulsion, or withdrawal from the institution to the local law enforcement agency that has jurisdiction over the institution's campus.

H.3379 STATE BUDGET AND CONTROL BOARD Rep. Crawford
This legislation makes the State Budget and Control Board a part of the Governor’s executive cabinet and eliminates the current five member board. The legislation provides that the governor shall appoint an executive director of the State Budget and Control Board, upon the advice and consent of the Senate; the authority of the five member board is transferred to the executive director.

H.3384 ESTABLISHMENT OF THE OFFENSE OF UNLAWFUL TRACKING Rep. Rutherford
With certain exceptions, this legislation provides that it is unlawful for a person to: (1) install or place a tracking device, or cause a tracking device to be installed or placed, in or on a motor vehicle without the knowledge and consent of the owner of the motor vehicle or, if the motor vehicle is leased, without the knowledge and consent of the lessee of the motor vehicle; and (2) track the location of a motor vehicle with a tracking device without the knowledge and consent of either the owner or the authorized operator of the motor vehicle. The legislation defines the term "tracking device". A person who violates these provisions is guilty of a misdemeanor and, upon conviction, must be fined not more than $500 dollars or imprisoned for not more than one year.

H.3385 SALE OF ALCOHOLIC LIQUORS Rep. D. C. Moss
This bill provides that it is unlawful to sale alcoholic liquors on Christmas Day and Thanksgiving Day.

H.3388 TOBACCO PRODUCTS Rep. R. L. Brown
This legislation provides it is illegal for a person engaged in the business of selling tobacco products to ship or transport cigarettes to a person in this State who is not a lawful recipient. The legislation defines a lawful recipient as well as requires proof of age by a lawful recipient. The legislation imposes civil penalties for violations.

H.3392 ELECTION LAW REVISIONS Rep. Clemmons
Relating to the required notice for general, municipal, special, and primary elections, this legislation (1) changes the posted time at which absentee ballots may begin to be examined from 2:00 p.m. to 9:00 a.m., and (2) requires notification of the date the make-up election will be held in the event of inclement weather or other emergency. Relating to the date by which the party chairman, vice chairman, or secretary must provide written certification of the candidates' names to the State Election Commission, this legislation changes the date from April ninth to April fifth. Relating to special elections, this legislation provides that if the Governor declares a state of emergency covering an entire jurisdiction holding an election, the election must be postponed and held on the next Tuesday. Relating to the certification of candidates, this legislation changes the date by which candidates for president and vice president must be certified to the State Election Commission from September tenth to the first Tuesday following the first Monday in September.

H.3395 AGGRAVATING CIRCUMSTANCE FOR WHICH THE DEATH PENALTY MAY BE IMPOSED Rep. Murphy
This legislation provides that the murder of a federal, state, or local elected or appointed official (or their family members) during or because of the performance of his official duties is an aggravating circumstance for which the death penalty may be imposed.

H.3396 POLL MANAGERS AND POLL WATCHERS Rep. Lowe
This legislation requires election commissioners to attempt to appoint poll managers who represent the racial and gender composition of the precinct. The legislation also requires poll managers to allow poll watchers to sit directly behind the poll managers responsible for voter identification and verification.