Greg Duckworth | Automatic Stay Reform, V.C. Summer Resolution & State of the Judiciary
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05 Mar Automatic Stay Reform, V.C. Summer Resolution & State of the Judiciary

Led by legislation introduced by your Horry County Delegation, the House voted overwhelmingly to shorten the amount of time radical environmental groups can hold up to construction of important infrastructure projects like International Drive. Under current law, environmental groups have had the ability to petition the Administrative Law Court for a “stay” on new construction of roads and highways and private businesses. Environmental groups have a history demanding taxpayers and private businesses give so-called “land trusts” millions of dollars before dropping the court cases that hold up construction. An environmental group recently forced taxpayers of the state of South Carolina to pay several million dollars to their aligned groups in order to end the delays to bring Boeing to South Carolina and deepen the Port of Charleston. Without these forced payments, an environmental group could have thwarted the recruitment of Boeing and the deepening on the Port of Charleston. Furthermore, current law has especially hurt small businesses who wish to create jobs in South Carolina by giving these environmental activist groups the ability to delay projects indefinitely unless businesses paid these groups their extortion money. This new law passed by the House and Senate, a big win for Team Horry County and all of South Carolina, strikes a balance – the bill shifts burden of proof in such an objection from the permittee to the party invoking the stay. Good for business; good for the environment; good for South Carolina! Governor McMaster has announced he will sign this important reform bill.

Last Tuesday the House took up a Senate resolution relating to the proposal by Dominion Energy to purchase SCANA Corporation. In the resolution, the Senate extended the amount of time the Public Service Commission has to review the Dominion-SCANA acquisition bid. However, the Senate did not address the most glaring issue ratepayers are facing every month, which is the 18% nuclear surcharge SCANA is forcing its customers to pay for the failed V.C. Summer nuclear energy project. Ratepayers are now paying $37 million a month for a nuclear plant that was never built. The House believes this is unacceptable and therefore altered the Senate resolution by completely eliminating the nuclear surcharge SCANA is charging its customers until the PSC can make a decision on the merger. The altered resolution has been sent back to the Senate for approval.

Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court Donald W. Beatty delivered his first State of the Judiciary in the House Chamber last Wednesday. The chief justice explained his experience of entering office to find the judicial branch facing a projected budget shortfall of $3.5 million. He credited legislators for listening to his concerns and their work to erase the shortfall. Justice Beatty also shared the judiciary’s progress of expanding E-filing, which allows attorneys and other officers of the court to file documents, pleadings, and complaints electronically. E-filing is more efficient than the old filing system and this efficiency saves the state money due to fewer man hours being used to file court documents. The justice was pleased to announced E-filing is expanding rapidly across the state and is projected to be used by all 46 counties by January, 2019.

Thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please don’t hesitate to contact me.