House Prefiled Legislation There were 445 prefiled bills in the SC House of Representatives dealing with everything from education reforms, term limits and ethics reforms, to cigarettes and marijuana. It is safe to say that any topic you can possibly think of is likely among the subject matter included in one of those 445 bills.
There were a few bills introduced that deal with transportation infrastructure. Whether it be reforming the agencies/entities responsible, increasing funding, or efforts to improve driver behaviors, these are some of the bills that will be on our radar in 2019.
H. 3111 – Abolish the SCDOT Commission Primary Sponsor: Rep. Micah Caskey (R-Lexington)
The bill abolishes the SCDOT Commission and places all of the Commission duties and responsibilities under the SCDOT Secretary and the SCDOT. The Governor would appoint the SCDOT Secretary and he/she would serve at the pleasure of the Governor. The bill would require that the SCDOT annual budget receive legislative approval. Provisions are included that would put additional responsibilities and requirements for the Secretary/Department when it comes to reporting and involvement in awarding of contracts, etc.
H.3418 – Eliminate the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank Primary Sponsor: Rep. Mac Toole (R-Lexington)
The bill would place the functions of the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank under the SCDOT Commission. A transition committee would be established for six months before full authority is transferred to the SCDOT Commission. Members of the transition committee would include the Chairman of the Board of Directors of the South Carolina Transportation Infrastructure Bank, the Secretary of the Department of Transportation, one director appointed by the President of the Senate, one director appointed by the Speaker of the House of Representatives, and one director appointed by the Governor.
H. 3409 – Gambling Revenues for Road Improvements Primary Sponsor: Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-Richland)
The bill would allow for a constitutional amendment to be put forth in the next general election to legalize gambling in the state. Should the amendment pass, any revenues generated from such activities would be allocated to the maintenance, construction, and repair of roads and bridges in the state.
H. 3382 - Environmental Bill of Rights Primary Sponsor: Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell (D-Lancaster)
The bill would allow for a constitutional amendment to be put forth in the next general election to allow local governments to enact environmental laws. Should the amendment pass, local governments would have the power to enact laws, regulations, ordinances, and charter provisions that are more restrictive and protective of the environment than laws or regulations enacted or adopted by the state government. If any local law or regulation enacted or adopted conflicts with a state law or regulation, the more restrictive and protective law or regulation governs.
H.3388 – Move Over Awareness Month Primary Sponsor: Rep Jay Jordan (R-Florence)
The bill establishes the month of April as Move Over Awareness Month to educate drivers on the importance of moving over to an adjacent lane when approaching work zones, traffic incidents, or emergency scenes. It would also require the SCDMV to include the state’s “move over law” in driver education manuals.
H. 3355 – Driving Under the Influence of an Electronic Device Primary Sponsor: Rep. Bill Taylor (R-Aiken)
The bill would establish the offense of driving under the influence of an electronic device (DUI-E) and establish penalties. It would also require the SCDOT to use highway signage to make drivers aware of the law.
Rep. Taylor introduced this legislation in the 2018 session as well, where it made it out of committee and to the House floor before the legislature adjourned. Georgia has a similar law that took effect July 1, 2018.
H.3189 – High Speed Rail Commission Primary Sponsor: Rep. Leon Stavrinakis (D-Charleston)
The bill would establish a high-speed rail commission to develop a plan of action for high speed rail in South Carolina and make recommendations to the General Assembly.
Rep. Stavrinakis has introduced this bill for several years, and his bill is actually a topic addressed in the State of the Midlands report. Read the article here.
It is important to remember that simply because a bill is introduced doesn’t mean it’s on the fast track to becoming law; however, this is why we monitor and watch to see what moves and gains traction.
State of the Midlands Infrastructure Report Columbia Business Monthly has published the annual 'State of the Midlands' report in their December issue. This year’s theme was “workforce development” but before delving into the workforce pipeline, attention was given to the condition of roads and bridges in the region.
SCFOR was among the groups interviewed for the infrastructure component of the Midlands report and based on the input given by all parties interviewed, it seems as if everyone agrees that Act 40 was a good first step, but it certainly won’t solve all of our problems. Click here to read the infrastructure report.
SCDOT Commissioner Pens Op-Ed SCDOT Commissioner Barnwell Fishburne (District 6) penned an op-ed to the Times and Democrat this week to note the progress that is being made on roads and bridges in Orangeburg County. Fishburne provides specific projects that are in the works or will begin in the future and says, “our work in Orangeburg County has just begun.” Fishburne adds that drivers should expect to see more cones and barrels during their commutes. Read the full op-ed here.
Mississippi DOT Crafts Clever Messages for Drivers The Mississippi Department of Transportation wants drivers to pay attention and drive safely. To get their message across, they have been pulling inspiration from famous Christmas movies.
State Funding Updates
Kentucky Governor Matt Bevin (R) has called on lawmakers to increase transportation funding in 2019, including raising the state gas tax and fees on fuel-efficient vehicles.
A local measure to increase funding for roads in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, received over 60 percent voter approval on the Dec. 8 ballot. The measure, which will increase the local sales tax by a half-cent for 30 years, is estimated to generate $912 million in revenue.
The Connecticut Department of Transportation requested on Dec. 10 that lawmakers invest $12.1 billion over the next five years into the agency’s capital plan for transportation infrastructure, including highways, bridges and public transportation. The request reflects an increase of $4.4 billion over the previous five years.
The California Department of Transportation on Dec. 7 announced an allocation of over $600 million in revenue for hundreds of transportation projects, including $80 million of funding from Senate Bill 1 (2017), legislation that increased the state gas tax and vehicle registration fees. Voters on Nov. 6 rejected a repeal of that funding, ensuring that the revenue continues to be invested in the state’s transportation infrastructure.
South Carolina’s roads and bridges will continue to be one of the top issues facing the state for many years to come. As the new state revenues are phased in, SCFOR understands the importance of publicly promoting both progress and patience; while continuing to urge policymakers at all levels of government to be proactive about infrastructure needs and investments.
Questions regarding your 2019 SCFOR membership? Please contact Jennifer Patterson via email firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at (803)417-6256.