On Thursday, the Senate gave a third and final reading to an amended version of H. 3516, commonly called the roads bill, by a vote of 30-9. The Senate’s version would raise the state’s motor fuel user fee 2 cents per gallon over a six year period for a total of 12 cents, in addition to other fee increases. When fully implemented, the legislative package would provide up to approximately $800 million annually in new revenue, which would be sent to a newly created Maintenance Infrastructure Trust Fund designated to repair existing state roads.
Additionally, the bill reforms the governance structure of the state’s Transportation Commission, and adds several tax cuts, as well as rebates, to offset the increased motor fuel user fee. The bill has been returned to the House of Representatives, which is expected to non-concur with Senate amendments, setting up a conference committee to hammer out differences.
Other bills passed by the Senate this week include:
S. 446 - Senators Leatherman, Setzler, Williams and Campbell: Amends current statute pertaining to the credit a taxpayer may claim against a contribution made to the Industry Partnership Fund at the South Carolina Research Authority, also known as the SCRA.
S. 499 - Senator Malloy: Removes the requirement that the Department of Motor Vehicles must charge a $50 fee to place an identifying code on the driver’s license of a person who is convicted of or pleads guilty to certain violent crimes.
READ SECOND TIME:
H. 3247 - Requires a moped operated on a public road or highway to be registered and licensed with the DMV. The bill also expands the definition of a motor vehicle to include mopeds for the purpose of uninsured and underinsured motorist insurance coverage.
H. 3349 - Revises provisions of the Nurse Licensure Compact, which consists of 25 states, including South Carolina, and allows a nurse who is licensed and is in good standing in a compact state to practice in any of the other compact states.
H. 3587 - Creates a Seizure Safety in Schools Study Committee consisting of 14 members to review information concerning the state of epilepsy awareness in public schools and basic training in seizure responses, in addition to other information.
Look ahead to next week and beyond:
A conference committee on the state budget bill, H. 3720, and the capital reserve fund bill, H. 3721, will be meeting in the coming week to consider differences in House and Senate versions. The work of this conference committee will be complicated by the House’s strategy of bobtailing their roads bill as a permanent Part II in the budget - a practice eliminated by the Senate more than 15 years ago. As a result, Senator Leatherman introduced S. 671, a continuing resolution that would keep South Carolina operating if a budget agreement is not reached by July 1.
The General Assembly’s Sine Die adjournment will be Thursday, May 11.
Compiled by South Carolina Senate Pro Tempore Communications Director Michael Ulmer.