Weekly Legislative Update. January 8 – 10, 2019.

The legislative session began this week, and lawmakers have filed another 100 bills – in addition to the 700+ bills prefiled in advance of session (click here for an overview of that legislation).

These bills, as with the prefiled legislation, focus on new regulations, more spending, and growing government. A few highlights include H.3448, which would create a new governmental office to oversee Freedom of Information Act request complaints by citizens and public bodies (currently these complaints are heard in Circuit Court). S.326 would require SLED to give $250,000 to the SC State Firefighters Association to reimburse firefighters and EMS technicians for out-of-pocket mental injury expenses. Two bills (S.312 and S.323) would allow the Department of Revenue to get information regarding debt collection straight from individuals’ banks.

Two bills (H.3455 and S.342) would create new licensing/certification requirements for residential swimming pool builders and alcohol servers, respectively, and another bill (S.330) would require the Department of Labor, Licensing, and Regulation to periodically report to the legislative oversight committees which occupational license regulations it wants to keep, overhaul and eliminate.

Finally, H.3460 would allow local governments to impose a new fee on residential and commercial developers, for the purpose of funding a grant program for low income individuals and groups “adversely impacted and displaced” by growth and development. This is, on its face, a wealth redistribution scheme that would function very much like a slush fund.

Bills to watch:

S.1Stripping some of the Governor’s interim appointment power

This bill would undercut the Governor’s power to make interim appointments when the legislature is not in session. If this bill becomes law, the Governor will not be able to make any interim appointments if a) the office became vacant before the previous legislative session, or b) if the Senate rejected his previous appointee. This creates an unreasonably narrow window for when interim appointments can be made.

For instance, say an office becomes vacant during the summer (after session has ended) and the Governor makes an interim appointment shortly thereafter. If the Senate rejects his appointee (or simply doesn’t take a vote) when they return the following year, the Governor cannot appoint anyone else to that position on an interim basis. This could leave central government positions vacant for an extended period of time. S.1 is a direct attack by the legislative branch on the Governor’s constitutional duty to administer state government.

This bill was fast-tracked through the Senate Judiciary Committee as well as the Senate floor this week, and will go to the House next week.

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