Utility Relocation Moves to House Floor The utility relocation bill (S.401) sponsored by Senator Paul Campbell (R-Berkeley) was passed favorably out of the House Education & Public Works Committee on Thursday by a vote of 14-0. The bill now resides on the House floor and could be taken up next week.
The bill relates to road construction projects and impacts on local water and sewer lines. Under the proposal, water and sewer utilities would be classified as large or small, and reimbursements of costs by SCDOT (or other entity undertaking the project) would be based on the respective classification. All costs would be covered for small utilities, and up to 4.5% of the costs associated with relocation would be covered for large utilities.
The bill requires that the relocation must be placed under the general contractor for the project; however, large utilities can opt out but must abide by the construction schedule or forfeit funding. It also includes language to require SCDOT to report on relocation metrics annually, and to sunset the legislation in 2026.
Toll Bill Introduced in Senate Senator Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) introduced legislation (S.780) that would allow tolling as a potential revenue option for new construction and reconstruction/replacement projects.
Specifically, the bill would allow SCDOT to implement tolls for new roads, capacity improvements, reconstruction of roads, and the reconstruction and replacement of bridges if the agency found tolls to be a feasible funding mechanism for the project. All revenues generated from the toll must be used to pay for the construction, maintenance costs, and other expenses for the project and for construction, maintenance and other improvements to the highway corridor. The bill also removes current provisions that require legislative approval of tolling with enacting legislation.
Upon introduction, Senate Transportation Committee Chairman Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley) had the bill placed on the calendar without reference.
The bill comes on the heels of the Senate’s inclusion of a budget proviso to require SCDOT to begin implementing the recommendations included in the I-95 toll feasibility study and report its progress along with other feasible funding options to the General Assembly by March 1, 2020.
The budget has been returned to the House, and a Conference Committee is expected to be appointed soon.
Sales Tax Reform Plan Coming Soon The House Tax Policy Review Committee met Thursday to discuss potential components of sales tax reform legislation. The committee aims to lower the statewide sales tax rate from 6% to 3-4%. Staff told committee members that to cut the rate in half, the removal of many exemptions would need to happen; however, that is easier said than done.
Committee staff said that the two exemptions that would generate the most revenue were motor fuel and vehicles. Both are key components of Act 40, and it is unlikely that the legislature will go back and revisit these issues during the sales tax debate.
Committee ChairmanRep. Tommy Pope (R-York) said that any significant tax reform legislation that passes the legislature in the coming years would take courage – the same courage and political will that it took to pass a road funding bill.
Based on the committee’s discussion, food, electricity, and medicine will likely be on the table as well as some services. Exemptions for business inputs would remain.
It is expected that a bill could be introduced as early as next week. Stay tuned...
Jones Wins Special Election Republican Stewart Jones won the special election to fill the vacated South Carolina State House District 14 seat in Greenwood and Laurens Counties. Jones defeated Democrat Garrett McDaniel in Tuesday's special election with 56% of the vote. Jones, 35, is a member of Laurens County Council. The vacancy was created by the resignation of former Rep. Mike Pitts (R-Laurens) for health reasons.
Senate Sine Die Resolution The leadership of the Senate introduced a Sine Die resolution this week (S.785) which would allow the legislature to return the week of May 20 to take up gubernatorial vetoes, conference committee reports and any matters related to Santee Cooper. The resolution was referred to the Operations and Management Committee.
The legislature adjourns Sine Die on Thursday, May 9.
SCDOT's Public Comment Notices For April 2019
Statewide Safety Initiative SCDOT is providing public notification to enact an amendment to the 2017-2022 Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). A Statewide Safety Initiative item is being added under the Highway Safety Improvement Program (HSIP) for fiscal year 2019 in the amount of $6.3 Million. Click here for details.
STIP Modification to a Bridge in Aiken County
SCDOT is providing public notification to add the I-20 Eastbound Bridge over South Edisto River in Aiken County to the I-20 Westbound Bridge which is currently identified in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). After careful evaluation, it's in the best interest of the Department and the public to replace both bridges in one contract. This modification will allow efficient use of Departmental resources for design, construction, and funding while providing reliability to the bridge network. Click here for details.
STIP Modification for a Bridge in Greenville County SCDOT is providing public notification to add the US 25 Southbound Bridge over North Saluda River and S-119 in Greenville County to US 25 Northbound Bridge which is currently identified in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). After careful evaluation, it's in the best interest of the Department and the public to replace both bridges in one contract. This modification will allow efficient use of Departmental resources for design, construction, and funding while providing reliability to the bridge network. Click here for details.
Earmark Funding for Corridor Improvements in Greenville County SCDOT is providing public notification to utilize funds that are reserved for corridor improvements along West Georgia Road from the intersection of Neely Road to the intersection of Rocky Creek Road in Greenville County. These Corridor improvements will be captured in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program (STIP). Click here for details.