March 18, 2013
Don’t Trash South Carolina
Worries Over Possible Impact of H.3290: Could Void Three Rivers Landfill Contract
The Edgefield Advertiser
By most accounts, SC House Bill 3290 is, in theory, a good idea. Meant to ensure fair business practices and an open market, this bill was first introduced to the legislature on Jan. 10, 2013 with the purpose of amending the SC Code of Laws to enact the “Business Freedom to Choose Act” relating to county solid waste programs. In essence, what this bill was supposed to do was prevent government from excluding competition in regards to landfill usage and controlling and setting prices on solid waste services. However, as highlighted at the Edgefield County Council meeting, Tuesday night, Mar. 5, this bill could drastically, and negatively, impact local governments. Specifically, it would void all county ordinances related to solid waste including solid waste fees. It would also void ordinances establishing disposal of waste at particular sites and all zoning related to the location of solid waste and recycling centers. But perhaps even more alarming for our county particularly, is that it would void our contract with Three Rivers Landfill.
While voiding county ordinances was alarming to the Council, the nullification of the Three Rivers Contract could possibly have a more immediate negative impact in that Edgefield County collects $900,000 in fees each year that goes toward our agreement with the landfill. The county uses this $900,000 to pay Three Rivers, but Three Rivers uses this money to pay bond debt; debt described as extensive by one law maker. If our contract is voided, tax payers would be left holding the bill for this bond debt. As Edgefield County Administrator Lynn Strom told Council, if this bill passes, it would “greatly increase” the county’s cost for waste disposal, which would ultimately mean tax payers could see an increase as well…
…The bill is now in the hands of the SC Senate, who, Rep. Hixon said, is working with law makers from both branches to correct its problems. Sen. Shane Massey also spoke with The Advertiser regarding the bill and said, “I don’t see this bill going anywhere in its current form.” He went on to say, “It would be extremely detrimental to the counties I represent. I can’t support that.”
(Read the full article from The Edgefield Advertiser here.)
Legislative Oyster Roast – April 17th
Save the date for the Annual Conservation Legislative Oyster Roast! On Wednesday, April 17th from 6:00-9:00 pm, we invite members of the General Assembly, their staff and members of the conservation community to enjoy an evening under the stars at the historic Seibels House and Garden. Please RSVP here.
Lobby Team Tuesday
community members to come to the State House this week to advocate for
conservation priorities with Wildlife
Action. Lobby teams meet each Tuesday
at 11:00 am in the basement of Immaculate Consumption (933 Main St., Columbia,
SC) on the corner of Main and Pendleton Streets- on the South
side of the State House complex- no longer at the Nickelodeon Theatre.
Volunteers then walk together to the State House lobby, and the day typically
lasts until about 3:00 pm.
Volunteers are not required to be experts on any issue. We will brief you beforehand and are available to answer questions the entire day. Parking is available on the street at blue and green meters, or in the parking garage located at Lady and Assembly streets. Business attire required, please. If you’d like to participate in future Lobby Team Tuesdays, send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
In the House
Sen. John Scott- SUPPORT); (H.3176, Rep. Alan Clemmons- AMEND)
S.4 establishes a 10-day early voting period ending three days prior to the election, and it remains on the contested calendar. H.3176 by Rep. Clemmons would open early voting ten days before an election, but it would also omit several long-standing legitimate excuses for in-person absentee voting, some of which Representatives voted to restore in full Judiciary Committee. H.3176 received a 13-8 favorable report, and we now urge the full House to restore all of the excuses for absentee voting in their floor discussion this week.
Freedom of Information Act (H.3163, Bill Taylor) SUPPORT
H.3163 changes the fees and time requirements for a public body responding to a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) request. The public body may not charge for staff time but may charge a commercial rate for copy costs when responding to a request. The bill also revises the time limits for responding to a request, and allows a public body to satisfy the FOIA request by making the records available online. This bill will be considered by the full House the week of March 19th.
Ethics Reform Act (H.3772,
Rep. Kenny Bingham) SUPPORT
H.3772 extends campaign disclosure requirements to all sources of public and private income; however, in its current form it would not capture many of the compensation sources that are most important in creating conflicts between the interests of individual officials and those of the public. This bill will be discussed by the House Judiciary Constitutional Laws Subcommittee (Rep. Bruce Bannister- Chair, Tommy Pope, Rick Quinn, James Smith and Walt McLeod) Thursday, March 21st in Blatt Room 516. And the House Legislative Ethics Committee will meet for an executive session Tuesday, March 19th at 11:30 am in Blatt Room 511.
Raffle Bills (S.213 and S.239,
Sen. Ray Cleary) SUPPORT SCANPO POSITION
S.213 would make raffles, but not other kinds of gambling, legal for nonprofits, as long as the net proceeds are dedicated to legitimate charitable purposes. Companion legislation (S.239) would amend the Constitution to allow raffles for these limited organizations and purposes. The Senate passed these bills 38-1. The full House Judiciary Committee will consider these bills Tuesday, March 19 at 2:30 pm in Blatt Room 516.
LEED Elimination (H.3592, Rep. Bill Sandifer) OPPOSE
This bill proposes to delete the use of the LEED green building rating system from the SC Energy Independence and Sustainable Construction Act of 2007, significantly reducing the energy efficiency requirement for state buildings. First introduced in 2000 by the US Green Building Council, the LEED system has attracted over 51,000 projects worldwide. As written, H.3592 is overly broad in addressing proposed changes to LEED requirements that could impact the use of some locally manufactured building materials. The LCI Public Utility Subcommittee (Rep. Mike Forrester- Chair, Bill Bowers, Grady Brown, Phillip Lowe, Dennis Moss and Bill Sandifer) adjourned debate on this bill two weeks ago, to allow time for further discussion at a future meeting.
In the Senate
Solar Leasing (H.3425, Rep. James Smith/Sen. Greg Gregory) SUPPORT
H.3425 allows an electric utility customer to become a generator of renewable energy without having to pay the high upfront cost of installing equipment like solar panels. Instead, a third party, such as a bank or finance company, purchases and owns the system installed on the customer's property. Over time, the customer pays the third party for the system through the purchase of affordable electricity. When the system is paid off, the customer can assume ownership and generate electricity for a fraction of the price of retail electricity rates. Legalizing “third party” sales will allow the free market to thrive and help homeowners, churches, schools, military installations and hospitals realize energy savings. In late February, the LCI Public Utility Subcommittee adjourned debate on the bill. Sen. Greg Gregory has filed a Senate version of the bill, to be formally introduced this week.
Public Utilities Review Committee (PURC)
The PURC next meets on Tuesday, March 19th at 9:00 am in Gressette Room 207 and the Energy Advisory Council meets on Friday, March 22nd at 10:00 am in Gressette Room 207. You can learn more about the Public Service Commission and PURC, the candidates and the upcoming calendar by visiting www.upowersc.com.
Natural Resource Agency Funding - SUPPORT
We thank the House for approving full funding of the Conservation Land Bank and DNR in its budget last week. As the Senate Finance Subcommittees continue to hear budget requests this week, we urge support for our state’s natural resource agencies: Department of Agriculture, Forestry Commission, DNR and Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. Surface water assessments are needed to complement South Carolina’s new water withdrawal permitting program administered by DHEC, and to gather the information necessary to update the State Water Plan developed by DNR. We encourage legislators to support the DNR funding request for $2 million- in addition to DNR’s regular operating funds- for surface water availability assessments.
Ethics Reform (S.338, Sen. Wes Hayes, S.2, Sen. Chip Campsen) SUPPORT LWVSC POSITION
S.338, the 2013 Ethics Reform Act, bans leadership PACs at all levels of government, strengthens requirements of campaign income reporting and more clearly defines the term “committee” in state law. We urge legislators to require disclosure of all income sources. In mid-March, a Judiciary Subcommittee (Sen. Rankin- Chair, Hutto, Malloy, Campsen and Massey) heard testimony and adjourned debate on S.338 to continue discussion at a later meeting. S.2 makes the filing process uniform and clear, and also moves the filing process to the authority of public elections offices rather than party officials. The House Judiciary Committee will consider S.2 on Tuesday, March 19 at 2:30 pm, or 1 and a half hours after the House adjourns, whichever is later, in Blatt Room 516.
Flow Control (H.3290, Rep. Kenny Bingham/S.203, Sen. Danny Verdin) OPPOSE
Many conservation organizations believe H.3290 would weaken the ability of local governments to be responsible stewards of their local waste stream and recyclables. H.3290 does not just impact Horry County, as it was originally intended; it threatens the ability of all county governments to manage where solid waste goes. The full Senate Medical Affairs Committee will discuss H.3290 on Thursday, March 21st at 9:30 am in Gressette Room 308. We urge Senators to vote "no" on H.3920. Contact information for the Committee members can be found here.
Farm to School Bill (S.191, Sen. Danny Verdin) SUPPORT
The Senate Agriculture Subcommittee of the Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will meet Wednesday, March 20 at 10:00 am in Gressette Room 406 to consider S.191, which directs the Department of Agriculture to create and maintain a program encouraging schools to serve locally grown, minimally processed farm foods. The bill is a local, environmental and economic win-win. Click here to contact Senators McGill, Williams, Matthews, Corbin, and Hembree in support of this bill.
Reform (S.184 by Sen. Sheheen) SUPPORT
DOT has projected that it needs $1.4 billion annually over the next 20 years to bring the state’s existing roads up to a minimum level of quality. S.184, referred to the Transportation Committee, requires DOT to prioritize and expedite projects relating to road and bridge maintenance, preservation and rehabilitation. It is not yet scheduled for a hearing.
State Bonds for County Infrastructure Act (S.411 by Sen. Setzler) MONITOR
S.411, referred to Finance Committee, would use state general obligation bonds to raise $500 million to be used by the counties to repair and maintain roads in the county. While we support the intent of this bill, we urge that an amendment be added to restrict funds from being used on new construction.
Buildings Revitalization Act (S.234 by Sen. Coleman/H.3093 by Rep. James Smith) SUPPORT
In an effort to give cities a tool for attracting new business to their communities, S.234 allows municipalities to offer tax credits equal to 25% of the cost to renovate a building that has been vacant for at least five years. To qualify for the tax credit, property owners would have to invest a minimum of $75,000 to $250,000 depending on the population of the municipality where the building is located. S.234 remains on the contested calendar, with Sen. Bryant’s name attached.
The Berkeley County Legislative Delegation will meet Thursday, March 21st at 8:00 am in Gressette Room 607 to hear a presentation from the SCDOT about the tree cutting project on Interstate 26. Last week, Sen. Larry Grooms introduced a bill to halt the cutting of trees on I-26 from Summerville to Charleston in order to allow time for legislative review.