SC Legislature Debates Bills of Interest to the State Construction Industry

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With the May 1 deadline looming in the SC Legislature (the date that one body must pass a bill to the other body if it is going to be eligible for passage this session) bills, amendments, and motions were flying around all week last week. Below is a wrap-up of the actions of interest to the construction industry reported by the Carolinas AGC:

LLC Legislation Passes Subcommittee: The full Senate Judiciary Subcommittee met last week but failed to take action on the LLC bill, S.124. There are several different interpretations of the intent of the bill and the intent of the ruling issued by the SC Supreme Court last year. The subcommittee approved the legislation, amending it to make sure it does not negatively affect contracts signed with the banking industry, and it was on the full Judiciary Committee agenda, but they adjourned before taking the bill up.

Procurement Code Legislation: The full Ways and Means Committee met last week and gave a favorable report to H.3860, legislation that addresses project delivery methods in the procurement code. The bill allows South Carolina contractors to compete on large projects by lifting current licensing restrictions. The bill does not eliminate requirements that regulated work must be properly licensed by the state, but only requires those performing the work to be licensed. Also, the bill modifies current law to allow state agencies to complete projects in phases instead of bidding to fund an entire, multi-phase project all at one time; which keeps a contractor’s bonding capacity from being tied up on a long, multi-phase project. Representative Cobb-Hunter wants to tweak the bill on the floor for minorities and women.

Special Senate Highway Funding Subcommittee: Senate Finance Chairman, Hugh Leatherman, has appointed a special highway funding subcommittee to review all the highway funding bills before the committee. The subcommittee will hold its first two meetings this week to allow the sponsors an opportunity to brief the members of the subcommittee on the legislation they have filed.

Pollution Control Act: Last week the House Agriculture Environmental Affairs 1 subcommittee met and gave a favorable report to H.3925, legislation that will eliminate any uncertainty regarding the existence of a private right of action under the Pollution Control Act (PCA). The passage of this legislation is needed because there is no PCA permit that can be applied for or obtained from the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC); yet, businesses have been sued for permits that did not exist and could not obtain. This was confirmed by DHEC staff during the hearing last week. The environmental community objected to the bill as they did last year. The legislation simply eliminates the private right of action and mandates the use of the administrative remedy created in the 2012 compromise bill that passed at the end of last session. The bill was reported out of sub and full committees last week.

DHEC Permitting: The House Agriculture Environmental I subcommittee gave a favorable as amended report to H.3827, which addresses final decision of review by DHEC on permits. The bill moves the process to give a final permit approval from the DHEC board to the Administrative Law Court. An amendment was adopted to allow the option to appeal to DHEC so that the agency is not taken out of the process completely, but still allows an applicant to head straight to the ALC if they so choose. This bill is designed to save applicants time and money and was reported out of sub and full committees last week. Read More.