12 Mar Beachfront Management Reform Act, We’ll Take Your Date If You Take Our Rate!, Budget Week, Opioids, LLI Kickoff!
The Beachfront Management Reform Act – a bill originated and cosponsored by your Horry-Georgetown Legislative Delegation – unanimously passed the South Carolina House of Representatives this past Thursday. This crucial bill affects where baselines and setback lines are to be drawn and, in many cases, impacts where structures can be built or rebuilt. Most of the 20,000 beachfront property owners were not aware of the SC DHEC OCRM Beachfront Jurisdictional Line review which occurred last year until it was almost too late to comment or appeal. The legislation includes provisions for how DHEC is to evaluate oceanfront areas that incur extraordinary erosion due to the impact of a storm system or storm event named by the National Weather Service. The bill now moves to the Senate Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee, where it’s set for a hearing this Wednesday.
This past Wednesday a bipartisan House coalition led by Speaker Jay Lucus held a press conference in the State House calling for the Senate to take up legislation amended by the House to reduce SCE&G rates and provide immediate relief for hundreds of thousands of customers. Because of the Senate’s refusal to debate and adopt House-passed legislation, SCANA continues to collect a staggering $1.2 million a day from ratepayers in order to pay for the failed V.C. Summer nuclear project. As of Friday, March 9, the Senate’s unwillingness to act has cost SCANA customers over $45 million since February 1st – which was the day the House sent our ratepayer protection bill to the Senate for review.
So far, the Senate’s only action relating to V.C. Summer has been passing a resolution to grant the Public Service Commission an extension to December to evaluate an acquisition bid by Dominion to purchase SCANA, but that resolution kept in place the current 18% “nuclear surcharge” being charged to SCANA customers for the V.C. Summer failure. In response, nearly every House member has agreed to keep the Senate’s date if the Senate will accept the House’s plan to eliminate the V.C. Summer rate. If the Senate continues its failure to consider the House’s ratepayer protection package, the total surcharge added to the bills of SCANA customers will reach $370 million by December.
The House Ways and Means Committee released its final budget proposal on Wednesday for the full House to consider for adoption this week during what’s known as “budget week.” The current budget proposal includes $60 million for a 2% across-the-board teacher salary increase, $5 million to increase starting annual teacher pay from $30,000 to $32,000, millions of dollars for new public school buses, $600 million in direct tax relief for South Carolinians, nearly four million dollars to increase starting salary for prison officers, and funds to assist South Carolina’s agriculture industry.
Nine opioid prevention-related bills passed out of committee last week, which means the full House will vote on these pieces of legislation as early as the week of March 19th. Included in these bills is enhancement of the Prescription Monitoring Program, improvements to decrease counterfeit prescriptions being used to obtain opioids illegally, community distribution of opioid overuse antidotes, and a new limit for initial prescriptions of opioid prescriptions to five days for acute pain and 14 days for post-operative pain.