Rebecca Haynes Rebecca Haynes
February 5, 2017

A number of anti-conservation bills are expected to have floor votes in the week ahead while many of our pro-conservation bills are awaiting subcommittee and committee hearings. Your help is needed now more than ever to stop the bad bills and put pressure to advance bills that protect the air, land, and water we love. 

Visit our new Legislative Action Center for opportunities to contact your legislators.

Anti-Home Rule (or Banning Plastic Bag Bans): If passed, H.3529 will prevent our cities and towns from find local solutions for local problems — taking away what is referred to as “Home Rule” and what has been a cornerstone of our governmental structure in South Carolina.

Despite being a “home rule” state, the plastic bag companies are fighting to take away our right to make decisions about plastic use in our communities and the control of recycling waste.

We support the coastal municipalities, like Isle of Palms and Folly Beach, that have taken the lead on this issue to reduce plastic waste on our beaches. Their commitment will protect marine life, birds, and the natural beauty we expect to see along our coast.

For more information, please read this media coverage.

  • House vote status: We expect to see this bill head to the House floor for a vote this week. Please reach out to your Representative and urge them to vote against this Anti-Home Rule Bill. CVSC will score a vote for this bill as anti-conservation.

Saving the Automatic Stay: If passed, S.105 and H.3565 will weaken citizens’ ability to successfully challenge the government when a citizen believes a permit is incorrectly issued (before it’s finalized). These bills neuter what is known as the Automatic Stay – a pause button that prevents harm from occurring while the permit challenge is considered. The “stay” allows the court to assess the facts and law in order to determine whether the permit was properly granted. The “stay” avoids irreparable harm to an affected party or place before that harm occurs.

This tool may be used by a wide range of entities – conservation groups, wastewater utilities, hospitals, restaurants, and any other entity that must obtain, or may be affected by, a DHEC permit for operation.  

The stakes are high in permit challenges, for both an applicant and a challenger. Allowing a permitted activity to begin with a faulty permit or requiring citizens to post high bonds would significantly harm citizens’ ability to successfully challenge the government and unnecessarily increase costs of a project.

Read more here.

Dam Safety Reform: Over 70 dams have failed across South Carolina in the last two years. Homes were destroyed. Infrastructure was damaged. Lives were lost. To protect citizens from failing dams, we support DHEC’s efforts to update our outdated dam safety law and support the agency’s funding request to support the program.

H.3218 ensures that DHEC is aware of any transfer of ownership of dams, that dam owners regularly update their contact information with DHEC, provide information on activity related to their dam, and provide the already required emergency action plan to DHEC, downstream homeowners, and emergency access professionals.

  • Status: Thankfully, this bill passed out of the House last week. Please thank your Representative! Next, the bill will make its way through the Senate.

Solar Market Growth: Landmark clean energy legislation passed in 2014 (Act 236) and has made South Carolina one of the fastest growing solar markets in the nation. In order to maintain expansion of renewables in South Carolina, we support adoption of clear guidance for reasonable property tax treatment of renewable energy equipment installed in our state.

S.44 establishes a clear and consistent path for property tax treatment of solar panel and other renewable energy installations, providing an 80% reduction of Fair Market Value for purposes of property tax assessment. As amended, the bill also exempts all residential solar panels from property tax. Together, these changes will help solar continue to grow in South Carolina.

  • Status: The Senate passed the bill last week. Please thank your Senator! Next, the bill will make its way through the House.

Reauthorization of the Conservation Bank: The Conservation Bank was created 14 years ago to safeguard our drinking water, preserve our history and culture, and protect our precious natural resources. It’s the only statewide source of public funding available for willing landowners and their land trust partners to voluntarily conserve important SC lands, and it will shut down if not reauthorized by June of 2018.

S.219 and is awaiting a subcommittee hearing in the Senate Finance Committee. The bill reauthorizes the Conservation Bank for 10 years and maintains reduced funding for the Bank even in lean budget years (previously, the Bank was cut to $0 in lean budget years).

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SAVE the DATE: Conservation Lobby Day and Oyster Roast, March 21, 2017

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