Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Budgeting For The Conservation Bank


After weighing the benefits of the Conservation Bank, the House Ways & Means Committee approved $750,000 to cover not only operational expenses to keep the Bank open, but also a portion of the $3 million dollars in outstanding grants.  Funding for the Conservation Bank is one of the most broadly supported priorities of the Common Agenda.  We encourage Representatives to support the Committee’s recommendation.  The Bank is vital to South Carolina’s future growth because it leverages public and private revenues to protect our natural resources and protect farms and forests and rural communities threatened by sprawl.


In the House

Natural Resource Agency Funding- PRIORITY
Forestry, agriculture, outdoor recreation and tourism account for $54 billion, or about one-third, of our economy. That’s over 450,000 jobs, or 25% of all jobs in South Carolina. However, the combined budgets of South Carolina Agriculture Department, Forestry Commission, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism account for less than one percent of the state budget. The budget debate is in full swing on the House floor this week. Email your Representative today and ask him or her to support Conservation Bank and natural resource agency funding.

Conservation Bank Sunset Clause Removal (
H.3083, Rep. Mike Pitts/S.138, Sen .Chip Campsen) PRIORITY

H.3083 removes the Sunset Clause that would end the Bank in 2013. The House Ways and Means Property Tax Subcommittee (Rep. Liston Barfield- Chair, Bill Clyburn, Chip Huggins, Jim Merrill and B.R. Skelton) gave this bill a favorable report last week, and sent the bill to the full Ways and Means Committee which will meet on the bill when it returns from furlough the week of March 28th.

Phosphorus Bill (
H.3470, Rep. Mike Pitts) PRIORITY

H.3470 would prohibit the use, sell or manufacture of dishwashing detergents containing phosphates, a harmful chemical found in our lakes and rivers. Phosphorus is already banned in 15 states because it kills fish and lowers recreational revenues and home values. Last week the Agriculture Environmental Affairs II Subcommittee gave this bill a favorable report and sent it to the full Agriculture Committee for consideration at its next meeting, not yet scheduled, as the House will be on furlough the week of March 22nd.

Chronic Sewage Polluter Bill (H.3617 by Rep. Mike Pitts) PRIORITY

H.3617 would require any wastewater utility with two spills over 5,000 gallons each in a 12-month period (per every 100 miles of pipe) to undergo a comprehensive audit of what caused the spill and fix the problems identified. This compromise language is supported by the conservation community and the 30 largest South Carolina wastewater utilities as a means of bringing the most chronic violators into compliance. The aforementioned Agriculture Environmental Affairs II Subcommittee, chaired by Rep. Paul Agnew, also gave this bill a favorable report last week. The full Agriculture Committee will discuss H.3617 at its next meeting.

Solar Tax Credits (H.3346, Rep. Dwight Loftis) SUPPORT
This bill establishes a 35 percent state tax credit for the installation of solar energy equipment for both residential and commercial purposes placed in service in taxable years after 2010. This legislation not only promotes renewable energy; it encourages solar installations and creates new jobs. It will be considered by the full Ways and Means Committee at its next meeting, which will be the week of March 28th.

In the Senate

Alcoholic Beverage Container (ABC) Recycling (S.461, Sen. Ray Cleary) PRIORITY

The recycling industry is one of the fastest growing sectors of the American economy.  In 2009 the recycling industry created 1,354 new jobs, $6.5 billion in economic impact, and over $300 million in capital investments in South Carolina alone. Our state needs strong legislative policies that provide a consistent and sustainable stream of recycled material to promote recycling industry growth, increase jobs and reduce the need for landfills. S.461 calls for establishments that have a permit for on-site consumption of alcohol to implement a recycling program in the next two years for plastic, corrugated cardboard, aluminum and glass. (The bill provides establishments without access to glass recyclers, 3 years to implement glass recycling.) The bill also calls for these establishments to develop recycling plans guided by DHEC. Minimal funding would come from 0.5% of the accommodations tax, which is approximately $200,000 - just a fr! action of the $42 million collected by this tax in 2009. A Senate Agriculture Subcommittee (Sen. Paul Campbell- Chair, Ray Cleary, Floyd Nicholson and Kent Williams) will meet a second time to discuss this bill and allow additional testimony, Wednesday, March 16 at 9:00 am in Gressette Room 209. Email your Senator to ask him to support this priority bill that creates South Carolina jobs.

Natural Resource Agency Funding- PRIORITY

(A description can be found under the House section.) We thank the Natural Resources and Economic Development Subcommittee (Sen. Yancey McGill- Chair, Ralph Anderson and Larry Grooms) for its positive response last week to budget requests from the Department of Natural Resources, Forestry Commission and Conservation Bank office. This week, the Subcommittee will hear budget requests from the Department of Agriculture and the office of Parks, Recreation and Tourism on Thursday, March 17 at 8:30 am in Gressette Room 307. The Senate Finance Subcommittee on Health and Human Services (Sen. Tom Alexander- Chair, Billy O’Dell and Clementa Pinckney) will hear budget requests from the Department of Health and Environmental Control, Wednesday, March 16 at 9:00 am in Gressette Room 207.

Prescribed Fire (H.3631, Rep. Jim Harrison/S.501, Sen. Ronnie Cromer) SUPPORT

Prescribed burns are the most efficient and cost effective tools for managing healthy forests. These bills provide greater protection for landowners who choose to burn responsibly on their property. Tuesday, the full Judiciary Committee gave H.3631 a favorable report, and Friday it received unanimous passage from the House. It will now go to the Senate Fish Game and Forestry Committee for consideration.

Marsh Canal Dredging (H.3587, Rep. Tracy Edge/S.497, Sen. Dick Elliott) OPPOSE

These bills would bypass OCRM/DHEC and allow the U.S. Corps of Engineers to permit counties or municipalities to dredge manmade recreational use canals conveyed to the State before 1970. Although the bill is aimed at Cherry Grove, it could open the door for increased dredging of wetlands across the entire coast that are now under the protection of the Coastal Zone Management Act. H.3587 passed the House unanimously the first week of March. S.497 was debated by a Senate Agriculture Subcommittee two weeks ago, but debate was adjourned on the bill to allow more time for testimony. We recommend that DHEC’s recently appointed Blue Ribbon Committee on Shoreline Management investigate the ramifications of this proposed bill and seek to remedy the specific situation in Cherry Grove.

Pier Bill (H.3586, Rep. Nelson Hardwick/S.520, Sen. Ray Cleary) MONITORThese bills give local planning and zoning boards the authority to approve pier related amenity structures seaward of the OCRM baseline. H.3586 passed the House unanimously the first week of March. S.520 received a favorable report from the full Agriculture Committee last week, and will be discussed this week by the full Senate.

Waste Flow Control (S.514, Sen. Danny Verdin) OPPOSEThis bill would undo Horry County Council’s “flow control” ordinance that requires that waste generated within Horry County be disposed of at the County’s own state-of-the-art disposal site. Waste disposal has traditionally been considered a local government function and we are concerned that S.514 would weaken home rule. In addition, funding for the County’s aggressive recycling and educational programs would be reduced because almost 25% of the tipping fees support those programs.

Provided by Conservation Voters of South Carolina

 

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