I am writing from the steps of the State House to let you know that you deserve a high five. The first regular session of the 122nd South Carolina General Assembly ended today, and it was a busy and successful one.
Because of your calls and emails to your state legislators and your attendance at public hearings, we curbed progress on several bad bills and created forward momentum for positive issues.
It was a great start to the biennial session, but we still have work to do. So much of what happens in local communities – from fishing in clean rivers to kayaking in litter-free salt marshes – depends on good laws, both here in Columbia and at the local level.
Here are key bills the Conservation League needs your help with this summer and ways you can get involved:
Stopping H. 3529 and Protecting Home Rule
A special interest bill that would have prevented local governments from addressing plastic pollution was stopped short this session. House Bill 3529 violates home rule, a long-held legal principle that local problems warrant local solutions. Conservation League supporters sent nearly 17,000 letters in opposition to H. 3529, and that worked—for now. The House of Representatives narrowly voted to end debate on the bill, which means we need to get ready for Round 2 in 2018.
Stopping S. 105 and Safeguarding the Automatic Stay
A bill that would weaken South Carolinians’ ability to challenge bureaucratic decisions was stalled toward the end of session. Senate Bill 105 threatens to limit the Automatic Stay, a legal tool that temporarily pauses construction and development – while the Administrative Law Court reviews draft permits – before irreversible harm to the environment can occur. We expect debate on S. 105 to continue next year.
Supporting South Carolina’s Clean Energy Future
Three bills at the State House this session would improve South Carolina’s position to take advantage of surging growth in the clean energy economy. House Bill 4304 would encourage offshore wind development, and it gained steam in the final days of the session with more than 50 co-sponsors. Another bill, Senate Bill 44, remains under review by a House Ways and Means subcommittee. S. 44 would ensure fair tax treatment for larger solar energy projects and bring $1 billion dollars of investment to the state, which means more jobs and moving away from burning coal and gas. A third bill, House Bill 4307, was introduced yesterday that would help defend our coast by blocking state agencies from approving the infrastructure needed to pursue offshore oil and gas drilling.
Our collective success is a direct result of your engagement. This summer, we encourage you to get to know your Senator and Representative, share your personal stories with them and reach out to us for more information on these bills and other legislative priorities.
If you don’t know your State Senator or Representative, find them at the State House website at http://scstatehouse.gov/legislatorssearch.php. Send them an email, write them a note, or give them a call to thank them for remembering the importance of conservation when crafting South Carolina’s laws.
Now more than ever, it’s important to stay fired up, invested and informed. Our team here in Columbia and across the state are supportive of your efforts and appreciate your feedback. Thank you for your help this session. It meant so much to me and our coast.