Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Conservation hotlist

In the Senate

Conservation Bank Death Clause (S.903, Sen. Glenn McConnell/H.4269- Rep. Bill Herbkersman)PRIORITY
Last year, the Conservation Bank received the largest reduction of funding of any state agency. According to current state law, any time there are across-the-board cuts to state agencies, the Conservation Bank funding is reduced to zero. These bills would remove this "death clause" and keep future budget cuts to the Bank in line with other state agencies. S.903 will be discussed by the Senate Environmental Affairs Subcommittee (Sen. Paul Campbell- Chair, Lee Bright, Chip Campsen, Tom Davis, Brad Hutto, Jake Knotts, Phil Leventis, Mick Mulvaney, Mike Rose and Vincent Sheheen) on Wednesday, March 3rd at 9:30 am in Gressette Room 308.

Water Withdrawal Permitting (S.452, Sen. Paul Campbell/H.4285, Rep. Don Bowen) PRIORITY
Statewide Comprehensive Water Management (H.3132, Rep. Don Bowen) MONITOR
In January, S.452 received a favorable report from the Senate Agriculture Committee. The conservation community, DNR, DHEC, and industry stakeholders are close to agreement on clarifying language that protects existing water users and maintains seasonal flows in our rivers and moves S.452 to a floor vote. Passage of a permitting bill is the first step for a statewide water management plan. The House Environmental Affairs I Subcommittee (Rep. David Hiott- Chair, Chandra Dillard, Mike Forrester and Nelson Hardwick) heard testimony from stakeholders last week on both H.4285 and H.3132. The conservation community representatives and others who testified urged the House to await the compromise bill expected from the Senate. The House Subcommittee voted to adjourn debate on both H.4285 and H.3132.
Emergency Notification (H.3603, Rep. Mike Pitts) SUPPORT
This bill, which passed the House in 2009, requires DHEC to create a standard procedure for public notification in the event of a major spill in public waters. Feb. 19th the Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee (Sen. Mike Fair- Chair, Kevin Bryant, Darrell Jackson, Mick Mulvaney and Floyd Nicholson) decided to carry this bill over for further discussion at a later meeting.

Energy Efficiency Financing (H. 4448, Rep. Bill Sandifer/S.1096, Sen. Glenn McConnell) SUPPORT

H.4448 and S.1096 authorize electric cooperatives and municipal electric systems to implement financing systems for energy efficiency improvements. They also give them the authority to finance the purchase price and installation cost of energy conservation measures. Last week, the House voted in favor of the compromise bill, H.4448 in a vote of 104-1. H.4448 will now be assigned to a Senate Committee.

Alcoholic Bottle Recycling (S.173, Sen. Ray Cleary) SUPPORT
This bill establishes an on-site recycling program for beer, wine and alcoholic liquor bottles and requires beverage permit holders to separate, store and provide for the collection of containers sold on their premises. S.173 was discussed by a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee (Sen. Paul Campbell- Chair, Ray Cleary, Mick Mulvaney, Floyd Nicholson and Kent Williams) last week, and following concerns raised by industry about the economic impact of the bill on small bars, the Subcommittee voted to adjourn debate on S.173, effectively killing the bill.

Farm to School Bill (H.3179, Rep. Dan Cooper) SUPPORT

School Health Food Standards (H.3297, Rep. Bakari Sellers) SUPPORT

H.3179 encourages school districts to purchase locally and regionally produced foods in order to improve student nutrition and strengthen local and regional farms. H.3297 calls for elementary schools to offer only full meals for student consumption, and creates fat, calorie, and sugar content standards that foods and beverages must meet in order to be sold in schools. Both bills passed the House last year, and received a favorable report from the full Senate Education Committee in February. If objections are not removed from these bills, they will die this session.

In the House

Electronics Recycling (H.4093, Rep. Dwight Loftis) SUPPORT
This bill bans e-waste from landfills and would require electronics manufacturers to offer an e-waste recovery and collection plan in a manner convenient to the consumer. H.4093 remains on the House calendar and will be considered by the full House this week.

Funding the Natural Resource Agencies that Fuel our Economy - PRIORITY
Our natural resource agencies deliver a significant economic return on a relatively small investment of public dollars, yet their combined funding comprises less than 1% of the state budget. We are concerned about the human and natural resource fallout from the severe budget cuts already instituted at DNR, Forestry, PRT, Agriculture and the Conservation Bank. The fullWays and Means Committee (Rep. Dan Cooper- Chair, Liston Barfield, Jim Battle, Kenny Bingham, Bill Clyburn, Gilda Cobb-Hunter, Tracy Edge, Bill Herbkersman, Kenneth Kennedy, Herb Kirsh, Chip Limehouse, Lanny Littlejohn, Dwight Loftis, Jay Lucas, Jim Merrill, Joe Neal, Denny Neilson, Harry Ott, Mike Pitts, Rex Rice, Gary Simrill, Murrell Smith, Roland Smith, Brian White and Annette Young) began its budget deliberations the last week of February. We urge Committee members to fully fund the budget requests of these important agencies.

Septic Tank Inspection-H.4500, Phosphorus Limits-H.4503,  Wastewater Discharge-H.4507 (Rep. Mike Pitts) SUPPORT
All three of these bills by Rep. Mike Pitts were discussed by the House Environmental Affairs I Subcommittee in February. H.4500, which requires inspection of septic tanks for compliance with laws and regulations upon sale of a home, was carried over to allow time to better clarify bill language before it is reconsidered in Subcommittee. The other two bills received a favorable report from the Subcommittee and now await placement on the calendar of the full Agriculture Committee. H.4503 places restrictions on the use, sale or manufacture of dishwashing detergents containing phosphates, a pollutant found in many of South Carolina’s public waters. H.4507requires DHEC to conduct project-specific assessments of economic and social importance of wastewater discharges.

Read about other bills on the Conservation Voters website.

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