Last week was the 3rd week of the 2019 legislative session. There are 15 weeks remaining in the regular session.
The Senate has spent a good bit of time the first few weeks working in subcommittees and committees. We did have some action by the full Senate last week, though. Here are the highlights from the Senate:
STATE OF THE STATE ADDRESS – On Wednesday night, Governor Henry McMaster delivered his second State of the State address. You can read a transcript of the speech here and watch it here. The speech lasts about 45 minutes.
MUNICIPAL TAXES – Current law says that newly incorporated towns and cities – as well as existing municipalities that do not have a millage rate – cannot impose taxes for municipal services (police, trash collection, etc.). The Senate passed S. 227, a bill that would allow those municipal governments to set a millage rate. The bill will now go to the House of Representatives for consideration.
ENERGY EFFICIENT MANUFACTURED HOMES – South Carolina currently offers an income tax credit of up to $750 to taxpayers who purchase a qualified, energy efficient manufactured home. That tax credit is set to expire later this year. The Senate passed S. 76, a bill that would extend that tax credit for an additional 5 years.
PROPERTY TAX RATES FOR NURSING HOME RESIDENTS – The Senate passed S. 207, a bill that would allow nursing home residents to keep the 4% assessment for their homes even when they are living in a nursing home. Homeowners who live in their homes are taxed based on a 4% assessment of the home’s value. If you’re not living in the home – if it’s a second home or if you use it as rental property – the property is taxed at a 6% assessment.
This bill is intended to protect elderly citizens who are forced to move into nursing homes because of failing health. The bill will now go to the House of Representatives.
FLOOD CONTROL – The Senate passed S. 217, a bill that would allow local governments to use accommodation tax revenue to help with flood control. The House will now consider the bill.
PSC ELECTION – The General Assembly will elect a commissioner for the South Carolina Public Service Commission on February 6, 2019. This commissioner will represent the 2nd Congressional District, which includes Aiken and Lexington Counties.
There are two candidates for the position – Florence P. Belser and Elliott F. Elam, Jr. (incumbent). You can read the screening committee report here, and you can read the transcripts of the screening committee hearings here.
SALES TAX DEFINITIONS – The Senate debated S. 214, a bill that would ensure that sellers collect and remit sales taxes. The bill is designed to fix a potential loophole that some online retailers have claimed allow them not to collect sales taxes.
I support making online retailers collect sales taxes just as physical retailers do. I am a little concerned about the state collecting an additional $100 million – $150 million, though. The Senate will have an additional discussion and likely pass the bill this week.
INCREASED PENALTIES FOR PROSTITUTION – The Senate passed S. 194, a bill that would increase penalties for prostitution and soliciting a prostitute. The bill now goes to the House of Representatives.
K-12 EDUCATION REFORM LEGISLATION – There has been a lot of conversation about K-12 reforms this legislative session. Should we increase teacher pay? How much? Should we require small school districts to consolidate? Should we do more to support teachers? How can we improve educational outcomes?
I expect this conversation will dominate this year’s session and likely continue into the future. Last week, legislation was introduced in the House and Senate to begin that conversation. The bill is 84 pages long and covers many areas. You can read the bill here.
LAST WEEK’S MEETINGS
On Sunday, I attended McCormick’s annual Martin Luther King, Jr. celebration.
On Tuesday afternoon, I participated in a legislative panel hosted by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce to discuss legislative priorities for the new session.
On Wednesday night, I attended Governor Henry McMaster’s State of the State address.
On Thursday afternoon, I met with several teachers in Edgefield County to discuss challenges in K-12 education and possible solutions. It was a great discussion, and I hope to talk with teachers in other counties soon.
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.
P.O. Box 551
Edgefield, SC 29824
Cell Phone: (803) 480-0419