Friday, April 25, 2008

Conservation hotlist

Enviromental related bills in the House and Senate provided by the Conservation Voters of South Carolina



IN THE SENATE
S.1302 (PRIORITY)
To ensure the Bank's base funding will not be in jeopardy in future years, Sen.Chip Campsen and 25 Senators have sponsored S.1302, to permanently eliminate this harmful language from the law. This bill will be considered by the full Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.
Since the Conservation Bank rece! ives its primary funding from a portion of the real-es! tate tra nsfer fee, the Bank has already received 27% less funding than it usually does at this time of the year. For this reason, it is especially important to protect the Bank's base funding during the Senate Budget debate, which begins Tuesday.
South Carolina's rapid growth exceeds the amount of land conserved, and project requests far surpass the available funds. Last year, grant requests totaled $42 million, nearly double the $24 million funded.

Reliable Water (S.428)
The various stakeholders have not reached consensus on a number of key components in this bill, so a minority report has been placed on S.428, the Surface Water Withdrawal Permitting Act, and it remains on the contested calendar. This bill will be debated by the full Senate only if the body votes to move S.428 into a Special Order slot.
The conservation community opposes S.428 as amended by the Committee. Most importantly, the Committee has not agreed upon how much water should be kept in rivers and streams for the public for boating, fishing and other recreational uses and how ! much to allocate to future business and industry.
The Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee included language offered by Sen. Larry Grooms that would have established a balanced advisory committee to study minimum instream flows and make recommendations next year. Unfortunately, the intent of the Grooms amendment was changed when further amendments were made stipulating that DHEC's minimum flow guidelines would not apply to "regulated" rivers (which includes the Pee Dee, Catawba, Santee, Broad, Saluda and Savannah), and that Senate and House appointees would be added to the Advisory Committee which would upset the balance.

Energizing the Future (PRIORITY)
Two weeks ago the Senate Finance Sales Tax Subcommittee (Billy O'Dell- Chair, Harvey Peeler, Glenn Reese, Linda Short, Mike Fair, Danny Verdin) did not approve several energy efficiency bills from Sen. Glenn McConnell's energy efficiency package. The Committee sited concerns that the state could not afford to offer additional rebates, s! ales tax relief or tax credits due to South Carolina&rs! quo;s re cent economic downturn. Last week, however, Subcommittee members, recognizing the importance of this legislation to South Carolina, agreed to reconsider the bills with amendments to address their concerns over the fiscal impacts. The Subcommittee will meet Tuesday, April 22 at 2:00 p.m. in Gressette Room 105.
S.1141 would establish an incentive program for the purchase of Energy Star certified manufactured homes in South Carolina by providing a $750 rebate payment and a sales tax exemption to consumers.
 S.1142 provides a state income tax credit equal to 20 percent of the federal credit for qualified expenditures on photovoltaic, solar and fuel cell property and provides a sales tax exemption for the purchase of equipment that produces electricity from a renewable energy source.
 S.1143 provides two one-month sales tax holidays for the purchase of energy efficiency appliances, ranging from water heaters to programmable thermostats during October, National Energy Efficiency Month, and April, National Earth Month.
Also this week, the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee will consider S.1140, whiches tablishes energy efficiency and renewable energy goals ! for stat e government, and direct our state's agencies to procure energy efficient products and to require all state agencies to replace incandescent light bulbs with compact fluorescent light bulbs by July 1, 2011. The Agriculture Subcommittee meets Wednesday, April 23 at 9:00 am in Gressette Room 308 and the full Agriculture Committee meets Wednesday at 11:00 am.

Net Metering (H.3395, S.684)
Representatives Laurie Funderburk and Mac Toole has been approved by the full House. Both H.3395 and S.684 by Sen. Phil Leventis remain in Senate Judiciary Subcommittee (Sen. Luke Rankin- Chair, Robert Ford, Randy Scott, Paul Campbell).
These bills require the SC Energy Office and the Office of Regulatory Staff to provide the legislature with recommendations on the process and procedures for establishing a net metering program at all of the state's electric utilities.

IN THE HOUSE
Farm to School Program Act (H.4833/S.1231, PRIORITY)
Last week the House Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee approved H.4833 by Representatives Dan Cooper and Laurie Funderbur! k, which fosters a direct relationship ! between South Carolina farms and schools to provide schools with fresh and minimally-processed foods for students' meals. The intent is to encourage healthy eating habits, improve farmers' incomes and direct access to markets, and provide students with hands-on learning opportunities. This bill will now go to the full House for its consideration.

Sustainable Homes (H.4892/S.123)
Last week the House Labor, Commerce, and Industry Real Estate Subcommittee, (Chip Huggins- Chair, Jimmy Bales, Glenn Hamilton, David Mack, Olin Philips) approved H.4892 by Rep.Nikki Haley and others. The Energy Independence and Sustainable Homes Act, or S.1234 by Sen. Jim Ritchie and H.4892 by Rep. Nikki Haley, would allow South Carolina home builders to r! eceive a $1,000 state income tax credit for building affordable homes that consume less energy. The tax credit is available for eight years beginning July 1, 2008 through July 1, 2016.
 

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