On Tap: March 20

Posted March 20, 2012 1:38 am | Filed under State/Regional News

A list of what’s happening at the South Carolina State Capitol Tuesday:

SENATE: (All meetings in Gressette Building unless otherwise noted)

11:00 a.m. (Room 209) — A judiciary subcommittee will consider several bills, including one by Sen. Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson) that would not allow a restraining order to be dropped against a person accused of harassing or stalking without the plaintiff’s permission. Currently, it is up to the court on how long a restraining order should last.

2:30 p.m. (Room 209) — A Senate Finance panel will hear testimony on a bill by Rep. Dwight Loftis (R-Greenville) that would exempt a company from paying corporate income taxes for 10 years if it establishes its corporate headquarters in the state and creates at least 50 new jobs. It cleared the House last year.

3:00 p.m. (Room 308) — The Senate Judiciary Committee will meet and take up a slew of agenda items. At the top of the list is a bill by Rep. Mike Gambrell (R-Honea Path) that would set strict rules for government-sponsored broadband networks, in an effort to make sure they do not have an unfair advantage over private companies. The bill cleared the House last year, but has since bumped through Senate committees.

3:00 p.m. (Room 105) — The Senate Finance committee will debate several proposed pieces of legislation, including a bill by Rep. Wendy Nanney (R-Greenville) that would require the state Department of Revenue to electronically file all of its documents relating to tax collections with the county clerks of court.

– Immediately after the Finance Committee adjourns, several senators will conduct a hearing on the House’s pension reform bill. Several organizations representing state employees are scheduled to speak.

HOUSE: (All meetings in Blatt Building unless otherwise noted)

2:30 p.m. (Room 427) — The full Medical, Military, and Municipal Affairs Committee will debate several new regulations, including a bill that would change how municipal pools are staffed. Right now, the number of lifeguards a community pool is required to have on hand is based on the size of the pool– regardless of how many swimmers there are. A bill sponsored by Reps. Phyllis Henderson (R-Greer) and Leon Stavrinakis (D-Charleston) would instead base it on the number of swimmers in the pool. Several city officials across the state are pushing the change to save money on lifeguards.

2:30 p.m. (Room 516) — The House Judiciary Committee is scheduled to debate nine different bills Tuesday. Near the top of the agenda is legislation by Rep. Bruce Bannister (R-Greenville) that would add six more circuit judges to the state’s court system. SC Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal has requested more at-large judges to help ease a case backlog in the legal system.

90 minutes after House adjourns (Room 511) — A Ways and Means panel will consider several financial bills, including proposed restrictions by Rep. Phil Owens (R-Easley) that would tighten the rules for cities and counties that use accommodations taxes. The taxes, which are collected from hotels, are supposed to be used for tourism. Owens’s bill would create several new consequences if a town uses the money for other purposes.

90 minutes after House adjourns (Room 523) — The income and sales tax subcommittee will hear public testimony on the first of several tax reform proposals pushed by House Republicans. This particular legislation by Rep. Tommy Stringer (R-Greer) would collapse the state’s six personal income tax brackets into three.

– At the same time in Room 110, an economic development subcommittee will hear testimony on two more parts of the tax reform package– a bill that lowers the property tax on businesses and manufacturers from 10 percent to 6 percent, and a second that eliminates most of the state’s smaller sales tax exemptions. Both are sponsored by Rep. Stringer.

2:30 p.m. (Room 403) — An insurance panel will hear from the public on a bill by Rep. Kris Crawford (R-Florence) that deals with telemedicine– the practice of providing health care service from a distance through telephone, electronics, and computers. It is primarily used for rural areas. Crawford’s bill would require health insurance to reimburse telemedicine at the same rate as if the appointments were done in-person.

90 minutes after House adjourns (Room 521) — The property tax subcommittee will hear testimony on a bill by Rep. Jim Merrill (R-Charleston) that would turn over the state’s bus fleet to local school districts. Supporters say South Carolina is the only state that operates school buses at the statewide level and needs to devolve those responsibilities to make the service more efficient. However, school districts are suspicious of the move– worried they will not be compensated enough by the state for their new responsibility.

3:00 p.m. (Room 433) — A motor vehicles panel will take up a bill by Sen. Joel Lourie (D-Columbia) that tries to crack down on stolen cars being sold to salvage yards for scrap. The bill would require salvage yards to obtain a certificate of title before demolishing any car that is less than 15 years old. Current law requires the title for cars eight years and younger.

3:00 p.m. (Room 108) — A labor regulations subcommittee will consider several new changes to the state code. One would switch the agency that handles the licensing and inspection process for stores that sell liquid propane. Right now, the Fire Marshal is responsible for the licenses. Instead lawmakers will consider turning it over to the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.