Last week was the 10th week of the 2022 legislative session. There are 8 legislative weeks remaining before the General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on May 12, 2022. Here are the highlights from last week’s action in the Senate:
Big tax cut – The Senate passed S. 1087, a bill that would provide the largest tax cut in South Carolina history. The bill would reduce the 6% and 7% marginal income tax rates to 5.7%. The bill would also eliminate income taxes on military retirement and reduce the property tax on manufacturing property from 9% to 6%. In addition to those permanent cuts, the bill would rebate $1 billion to income tax filers this year such that every filer would receive at least $300. The net result would send more than $2 billion back to taxpayers this year. The House passed a smaller tax cut earlier this year, so the bodies will now have to reconcile the differences.
Rainy Day Accounts – South Carolina has several reserve fund accounts. The two largest and primary accounts are required by the state constitution: the General Reserve Fund and the Capital Reserve Fund. The General Reserve Fund must be 5% of state’s General Fund, and the Capital Reserve Fund must be 2% of the General Fund, so that, with both accounts combined, the state has 7% in reserves. Last week the Senate passed S. 1106, a constitutional amendment that would increase the General Reserve Fund to at least 8% and keep the Capital Reserve Fund at 2% so that the state would have at least 10% in reserves. It would also provide that if the state experiences a shortfall in revenue, the Capital Reserve Fund would be tapped to meet expenses rather than an automatic across-the-board cut. The resolution will now go to the House of Representatives. If both houses agree, the constitutional amendment will be on the ballot for voters to consider in November.
Convention of States – Article V of the United States Constitution provides two ways to amend the Constitution. First, the constitution can be amended if 2/3 of the United States Senate, 2/3 of the United States House of Representatives, and ¾ (38) of the states agree to an amendment. That process has been used for the 27 amendments that have been adopted since the Constitution was ratified in 1788. The second procedure allowed by Article V is for 2/3 of the states to call for a convention to consider amendments. If the convention were to adopt amendments, ¾ of the states would have to ratify those proposed amendments before they would be effective and added to the Constitution.
The Senate passed two resolutions calling for conventions of states. H. 3205 would make South Carolina the 19th state to call for a convention to consider amendments to impose term limits on federal officials, require fiscal restraint, and limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government. S. 133 would call for a convention specifically for the purpose of proposing a balanced budget amendment. The House will now consider the resolutions.
Government Restructuring – The Senate passed S.2, a bill that would restructure the Department of Health and Environmental Control into a new Department of Behavioral and Public Health and a new Department of Department of Environmental Services. The bill would also abolish the Department of Mental Health and transfer that agency’s responsibilities to the new Department of Behavioral and Public Health. Currently, DHEC and DMH are governed by commissions. The bill would abolish those commissions and have the new departments assigned to the governor’s cabinet with the governor nominating the agency heads. The House will now consider the legislation.
Teachers – The Senate passed H. 3590, a bill that would allow schools to have uncertified teachers comprise up to 10% of its workforce if it cannot find enough certified teachers to staff the classrooms. The bill will go back to the House for consideration of Senate changes.
Aiken County voting precincts – The Senate passed S. 1060, a bill that would create two new precincts in Aiken County. For our district, the change would affect the Breezy Hill precinct in Graniteville. Because of the growth in that area, Breezy Hill will be divided into two precincts: Breezy Hill and a new Community No. 86. Breezy Hill voters will continue to vote at Christian Heritage Church while Community No. 86 will vote at Graniteville Community Church. If the House of Representatives agrees to the changes, voters will be notified before the statewide primaries if their polling place changes.
SCDOT ROAD PROJECTS – SCDOT has an interactive map to allow citizens to see the road and bridge projects going on around the state. You can see that map here.
How is the gas tax being used? – SCDOT’s website allows you to view a detailed revenue statement and project list that is funded by the Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund (IMTF). SCDOT updates this site monthly as the revenue comes in. You can see that report 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.
Beginning with the 2024 election, Senate District 25 will include all of Edgefield and McCormick Counties and parts of Aiken, Lexington, and Saluda Counties. You can see the new district, effective in 2024, 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.
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