Last week was the 2nd week of the 2018 legislative session. Since there was inclement weather in parts of the Midlands and Upstate, it was a short week with the General Assembly meeting only on Tuesday. Committee meetings and session were cancelled on Wednesday and Thursday.
Here are the highlights from last week in the Senate:
BUDGET VETOES – On Tuesday, the Senate took up most of Governor McMaster’s budget vetoes. Since the budget starts in the House of Representatives, the House considers the vetoes first. The Senate considers only those vetoes that the House overrides. You can read the governor’s veto messages here.
The Senate overrode the following vetoes:
- Veto 10 – Hazardous Waste Fund County Account
- Veto 14– Lee County Bus Shop
- Veto 15 – School Bus Lease/Purchase
- Veto 17 – Library-Aid to County Libraries
- Veto 18– CHE-Carolina Career Clusters Grant
- Veto 20– Spice Program
- Veto 21– School Bus Lease/Purchase
- Veto 23– School Bus Lease/Purchase
- Veto 24– Statewide Arts Services to Private Sector
- Veto 27– Greenwood Sewer Extension Line
The Senate sustained the following vetoes:
- Veto 12 – SCDOT Rest Area Contractual Payments
- Veto 28 – Alida Street Project
- Veto 29 – Horry County Museum
- Veto 32 – Sports Marketing Grant Program
If you have questions about these or other vetoes, please let me know.
VC SUMMER – Dominion Energy CEO Tom Farrell appeared before House and Senate committees last week to discuss Dominion’s proposal to merge with SCANA. Here are the highlights of the proposal:
- Dominion would keep SCANA as a wholly-owned subsidiary. Essentially, SCANA would continue to operate as it does now with headquarters in Cayce. SCANA would have an executive team that is based in Cayce. SCANA would have one member on Dominion’s 13-member board. Ultimately, the board and CEO in Richmond would control.
- Dominion would ensure that every SCANA employee is paid at the current salary through the end of 2019. Mr. Farrell told the committees he expects few changes to current SCANA employees after 2019. The most likely changes would be administrative or support positions.
- Dominion would refund $1.3 billion to customers based on energy use over the past year. The average residential customer would receive around $1,000.
- Approximately 18% of SCE&G customers’ bills is devoted to VC Summer. Dominion would reduce current bills by at least 5% ($7.00-$7.50 for the average residential customer). That reduced rate would stay in effect for 8 years. For the next 12 years thereafter, the remaining portion of the bills devoted to VC Summer would reduce to zero. Therefore, after 20 years, customers would no longer pay anything for VC Summer.
- Dominion would ask for no rate increases for anything, including non-nuclear, for at least 3 years.
- SCANA has announced the purchase of a new natural gas plant in Calhoun County to generate additional needed electricity and had proposed not charging customers for the cost of the plant. Dominion would honor that commitment.
- If everything is approved on the schedule Dominion and SCANA prefer, the deal would close in the Fall of 2018.
These are just the highlights of the proposal. I still have a number of questions about the details of the rate reduction, but I would likely not support the proposal based on what I know now. There is still a long way to go. Stay tuned.
SANTEE COOPER – A lot of people have asked me why nearly all the attention has been on SCANA with little attention focused on Santee Cooper. While SCANA owns 55% of VC Summer, Santee Cooper owns 45% and has been involved in all the decision-making. The investigating committees have spent a good bit of time looking into Santee Cooper’s role in VC Summer, and there is legislation pending that would address Santee Cooper and co-op customers, as well.
Unfortunately, the timing of the Dominion offer has resulted in the immediate focus on that issue. However, Santee Cooper is nearly as responsible for this debacle as is SCANA. I am confident there will be conversation about Santee Cooper and its future.
NEW MAGISTRATE IN AIKEN COUNTY – The Senate confirmed the nomination of Yvonne Rushton as a new magistrate in Aiken. Judge Rushton is a former solicitor and replaces Judge Carl Insley who retired at the end of 2017.
STATE OF THE STATE – Because of the weather, Governor Henry McMaster postponed the State of the State Address until this Wednesday at 7:00. You can watch the speech on ETV or here.
WHAT ISSUES ARE MOST IMPORTANT TO YOU? – I received several emails last week about various issues facing South Carolina. I appreciate that input. If you have thoughts, questions, or concerns about issues facing South Carolina, please let me know.
SCDOT PROJECTS – SCDOT Secretary, Christy Hall, recently appeared before the Senate Transportation Committee to present an annual State of the SCDOT. You can view Secretary Hall’s power point presentation here.
WANT TO SEE THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN ACTION? – The Senate meets in statewide session on Tuesdays at 2:00, Wednesdays at 12:00, and Thursdays at 11:00. Committees and subcommittees meet Tuesday mornings, Wednesday mornings, and Thursday mornings. You can watch live coverage of the Senate, House of Representatives, and committees here.
OUR SENATE DISTRICT – Senate district 25 consists of all of Edgefield County and parts of Aiken, Lexington, McCormick, and Saluda Counties. If you’d like to see the district map, go here.
SPEAKING WITH GROUPS – Several groups, clubs, and classes around our Senate district have invited me to attend their meetings and provide legislative updates. If you would like for me to come speak with your group, please let me know.
EMAIL UPDATES – If you know of people in or around District 25 who do not receive my updates but would like to get them, please email their names and email addresses to me. You can also forward this email to them and encourage them to sign up for the updates at www.senatormassey.com.