Tag: S.C. Senate

S.C. Senate Committee Hearing on Roads

The S.C. Senate Finance Committee will hold a meeting March 24th on a roads bill sponsored by committee member Sen. Ray Cleary.

The bill, S.523, proposes increase a number of taxes and fees to pay for the road maintenance while also proposing to force counties to take control of approximately 50 percent of the roads currently maintained by SCDOT.

As with a bill currently making its way through the S.C. House, Cleary’s bill proposes to disband current County Transportation Committees and re-establish them with a new procedure for appointing members.

S.C. General Assembly Continues Funding Attacks

The S.C. General Assembly continues to move forward with impunity on bills that will cause funding problems for local governments around the state.

H.3374, which deals with the local government fund, has already passed the House and lies in the Senate Finance Committee awaiting action.

The local government fund, now proposed to be renamed the Local Government Revenue Sharing Fund, ostensibly returns a portion of state revenue to counties to help pay for state mandated offices. These include courts, solicitors, magistrates, public defenders, election commission, DSS, county health departments and the like.

Punishing Citizens for FOIA Requests

The S.C. House has possibly outdone even itself with a bill that would punish citizens for making FOIA requests.

H.3191 is this beauty and it has already passed from the House to the Senate in its progress to becoming law.

Provisions in the law would allow public agencies to take legal action against citizens who make “overly broad” or “unduly burdensome” requests for public records.

Bureaucracy to prevail at expense of the taxpayer

S.C. General Assembly Continues Assault on Local Governments

This legislative session could go down in history as the one during which the S.C. General Assembly broke the banks of local governments.

The S.C. House passed H.3374 last week, permanently cutting the local government fund and removing any formula for its calculation in the future.

The LGF, or Local Government Revenue Sharing Fund as it will be called in the future, will be funded over the next two years at the same level it is funded in the current fiscal year budget, or approximately 30% below the level of funding required by state statute.

Ethics Reform – Not So Fast

S.C. House Ethics Reform Bill Discourages Ethics Complaints

An Ethics Reform Bill, which flew through the S.C. House with only one dissenting vote in three readings, appears designed to discourage the filing of ethics complaints.

H. 3184 could put citizens at substantial risk, possibly facing both criminal and civil charges, depending on the whim of a newly constituted State Ethics Commission.

Called the Ethics Reform Act, the devil is again in the details of the legislation. The bill creates a new State Ethics Commission and ultimately grants investigation of ethics complaints against House or Senate members to that new body.

S.C. House Intent on Road Transfer to Counties

It appears the S.C. House is fully intent on dumping approximately 50% of the current state road network onto the backs of the counties.

Reading into H.3579, the bill that has the most support among S.C. House members, the intent becomes quite apparent.

While it has been said repeatedly in the media that counties would have the option to accept the roads from the state, this isn’t quite true.

Ethics Reform – Not So Fast

S.C. Senate Effectively Kills Ethics Reform

Ethics reform took a big hit in the S.C. Senate last week when senators voted to essentially keep ethics investigations in-house.

A bill (S.1) that would have allowed investigations of ethics complaints against members of the S.C. General Assembly to be investigated by a reconstituted S.C. Ethics Commission failed to get enough support to move forward.

Sen. Luke Rankin, Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee, offered an amendment that would have established a panel consisting of a majority of legislators and a few members of the public (for window dressing) instead of the independent panel advocated in the bill’s original language.

After a long debate, senators voted down the ethics reform bill authored by Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens. In a touch of irony, Martin voted against his much changed bill in the final vote.

Ethics Reform – Not So Fast

Ethics Reform House Committee Meets Monday

A specially appointed S.C. House Ethics and the Freedom of Information Act Study Committee met again Monday to continue discussion of ethics reform.

Two areas of concentration on the agenda are campaign finance reform and independent investigation of ethics complaints.

Limiting mileage and travel reimbursement and prohibition against immediate family members being hired by a campaign were discussed along with a prohibition against using campaign funds to pay fines, fees or other charges imposed by the ethics commission, ethics committee or criminal court.

Bureaucracy to prevail at expense of the taxpayer

Prefiled S.C. Senate Bills

Ethics reform and a gas tax increase head the bills prefiled in the S.C. Senate December 3rd.

Sen. Larry Martin is again attempting to end the practice of the S.C. House Ethics Committee and the S.C. Senate Ethics Committee from policing members of their own bodies and meeting in secret. Martin is proposing revamping the State Ethics Commission so it will have first look at ethics complaints against state legislators before those complaints go to the House or Senate ethics committees.

Martin’s bill would also require candidates and public officials to disclose more details about their incomes; bring political groups back into the reporting fold for revenue and expenses and tighten laws on how campaign funds may be spent.

Ethics Reform – Not So Fast

Ethics Reform Sounds Good, but Won’t Happen

A S.C. House ad hoc committee on ethics reform held its first meeting last week.

Acting S.C. House Speaker Jay Lucas has made ethics reform the number one priority for the General Assembly in the upcoming legislative session beginning January 2015.

Lucas wants pre-filed bills on ethics reform ready to go at the beginning of the session.

Should we get excited and think ethics reform, in this historically ethically challenged state, is near?