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  • 2022 Legislative Bills
    Jan 27, 2022

    South Carolina Fraternal Order of Police

      January 18-21, 2022

    Underlined Bill Numbers are links to source documents

    Bills with action taken have a summarization of actions written in Blue Color Italics

    The South Carolina General Assembly opened the 2nd regular session of the 124th South Carolina General Assembly which convened on Tuesday, January 11, 2022.

    Governor's Executive Budget

    The FY 2022-23 Executive Budget highlights: 

    • $10,717,000 to eliminate all state income taxes on the retirement pay of career law enforcement officers, firefighters and peace officers;

    • $177,000,000 to reduce the 7% income tax rate 1% over five years for all personal income tax brackets.

    • Return to Work Proviso - The Executive Budget recommends adding this proviso (108.16) to retain experienced Law Enforcement Officers and First Responders by exempting the earnings limitation imposed pursuant Section 9-11-90 of the 1976 Code for retired members of the Police Officers Retirement System who retired before December 31, 2020 and returns to covered employment to enhance the state's efforts to provide quality public safety. 

    • Return to Work Proviso - COVID-19 - The Executive Budget recommends that the earnings limitation does not apply to retired SCRS or PORS members who return to covered employment to participate in the state’s public health preparedness and response to COVID-19.

    • $8,769,012 in recurring dollars to annualize funding for the school resource officer program at the South Carolina Department of Public Safety (DPS);

    • $1,078,988 in new recurring dollars for Body-Worn Camera (BWC) rotation at DPS bringing the total for body camera funding to over $21 million;

    • $250,000 in non-recurring dollars for Local Law Enforcement Accreditation at DPS. Provis 63.11 provides that funding is provided to assist law enforcement agencies, especially small and rural law enforcement agencies, in achieving voluntary, state law enforcement accreditation. These funds would be awarded to South Carolina Law Enforcement Accreditation Inc. through the SC Department of Public Safety. These funds would specifically be used to assist small, rural law enforcement agencies to achieve voluntary, state law enforcement accreditation that will increase the level of public safety, professionalism, and accountability.

    • The Executive Budget enacts a date-certain transition away from defined benefit pension plans to defined contribution retirement plans for new state employees. This budget includes proviso language which will close enrollment in the South Carolina Retirement System (SCRS) to new members. A person who otherwise would have been required or eligible to become a member of SCRS and employed by the state after December 31, 2022, instead shall join the State Optional Retirement Program (State ORP) administered by the South Carolina Public Employee Benefit Authority (PEBA). This proviso does not impact PORS.

    •The Executive Budget recommends adding this proviso (63.12) to establish the Governor’s Law Enforcement Officer of the Year Award to recognize and publicly thank the extraordinary efforts of South Carolina’s best law enforcement officers each year.

    • The Executive Budget recommends establishing this proviso (64.3) directing the Law Enforcement Training Council to develop guidelines and curriculum for a mandatory ethics training course for all forty-six sheriffs that must be completed on an annual basis.




     

    Legislative Activity on Bills

    House Weekly Meetings

    The House of Representatives Ways and Means Committee is currently working on its recommendations for the Appropriations Bill.

    House Ways and Means Budget Calendar

    Ways and Means Committee Budget Assignments

    H. 3050Law Enforcement Reform.  This bill would make law enforcement reforms. As originally drafted, the bill would provide that, beginning on July 1, 2021, a non-certified law enforcement officer shall only perform his duties while accompanied by a certified law enforcement officer. The House Judiciary Committee amended the bill by adding several sections. Pursuant to the committee amendment, the bill would add failure to intervene when observing another officer physically or psychologically abusing members of the public or prisoners to the definition of “misconduct.” Second, “chokehold” would be defined and the use of such a method would be limited to use of deadly force when necessary to protect the life of the officer or civilians. The Law Enforcement Training Council would establish required minimum standards for all law enforcement agencies, including policies relating to “no knock” warrants, implementation of body-worn cameras, vehicle pursuit standards, and more. A Compliance Division would be created that would inspect, at least once every three years, the policies and procedures for every law enforcement agency. Finally, the bill would provide for civil fines if an agency is non-compliant and would allow for certification suspension of every officer within an agency until the agency becomes compliant with the relevant policies and procedures. H. 3050, as amended, passed the House and was sent to the Senate where it was referred to Senate Judiciary.  A subcommittee has been named: Sen(s) Senn (ch), Malloy, Kimpson, Matthews, Adams, Garrett and Gustafson.

    H. 3094 Enacts the "Open Carry with Training Act".  This bill would enact the “Open Carry with Training Act.” This Act would allow a Concealed Weapon Permit (CWP) holder to carry a concealable weapon openly on his person and openly about his person in a vehicle. The bill provides that a public or private employer may prohibit a permit holder from openly carrying upon the premises and enhanced training be offered regarding properly securing a firearm in a holster, cocked and locked carrying of a firearm, how to respond to a person who attempts to take your firearm from your holster and de-escalation techniques and strategies.  The bill also provides that counties, municipalities, or political subdivisions may temporarily restrict otherwise lawful open carrying of a firearm on public property when the county, municipality or political subdivision issues a permit to allow a public protest, rally, fair, parade, festival, or other organized event. A county, municipality or political subdivision exercising such authority would need to be specific in their restriction and provide notice when feasible. H.3094 passed the House of Representatives and sent to the Senate where it was amended to eliminate the $50 CWP fee; tightened the language relating to local governments temporarily restricting otherwise lawful open carrying of a firearm at protests, rallies, fairs, parades, festivals, etc.; and, to provide that clerks of court and other judges shall report criminal indictments, permanent restraining orders, orders of state firearms prohibition, other restraining orders, orders of protection, or other orders that prohibit a person from legally purchasing or possessing a firearm to SLED within five days.  The bill was signed into law May 1, 2021 and was effective August 15, 2021.

    H. 3096Enacts the “South Carolina Constitutional Carry Act”.   This bill would enact the “South Carolina Constitutional Carry Act of 2021.” Constitutional carry would broaden where a person, with or without training, may carry a firearm.  H.3096 was taken up in the House Judiciary and passed out favorably with a vote of 18-6 and 1 not voting. The bill passed the House 69 ayes and 47 nays and sent to the Senate where it was referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary. 

    H. 3106  — PORS and SCRS Employee and Employer Contribution Rates.  The bill provides that an employer, up to certain limits, may elect to pay all or a portion of required employee contributions during a fiscal year under the South Carolina Retirement System and the Police Officers Retirement System, respectively. H.3106 passed out of a House Subcommittee. The bill is awaiting a Ways and Means Committee hearing.

    H. 3126  Unlawful Federal Mask or Vaccine Mandate.  Under the provisions of this bill, it is unlawful for this State, or any political subdivision thereof, to accept any federal funds to enforce an unlawful federal vaccine mandate. This legislation was referred to the House Ways and Means Committee and taken up for discussion on December 9 and passed out of the committee with amendment and sent onto the floor of the House. The House agreed on a compromise amendment which now imposes the following conditions: Provides that any political subdivision, including a school district, may not enact a COVID-19 vaccine mandate for any employee, independent contractor, non-employee vendor, first responder, or student, as a condition of employment or attendance; If a private employer terminates or suspends an individual because they do not receive a COVID-19 vaccination, that individual is eligible for unemployment benefits.The General Assembly holds that a federal vaccine mandate is unconstitutional and shall not be enforced by this State; however, if a private employer believes it is subject to the forfeiture of federal funds due to a failure to require employees to receive a COVID-19 vaccination, the private employer may require an unvaccinated employee to undergo weekly COVID-19 testing. DHEC ($10 million) and MUSC ($10 million) will fund COVID-19 testing from the Contingency Reserve for private employers and shall partner with private employers to provide COVID-19 testing; and A religious exemption or medical exemption must be honored in regard to any COVID-19 vaccine requirement. The Act would take effect upon approval by the Governor and the provisions of the Act are repealed on December 31, 2022, unless reauthorized. The bill was passed by the House of Representatives with a vote of 60 Yeas to 25 Nays and sent to the Senate where it was referred to the Senate Finance Committee. 

    H. 3134  Return to Work - The bill removes the $10,000 earnings limitation cap for a retired employee under the State Retirement System and the Police Officers Retirement System that returns to work at an agency covered under PEBA. They must first be separated from employment in either system for a period of 12 consecutive months.  H.3134 passed out of a House Subcommittee.  The bill is awaiting a Ways and Means Committee hearing.  

    H.3620 similar (S.14)   Hate Crime Penalty Enhancements. Rep. Gilliard - This penalty enhancements for certain crimes proposal would tack on additional punishments for perpetrators of hate crimes. It would apply to crimes committed against victims based on their race, color, creed, religion, sex, gender, age, national origin, ancestry, sexual orientation, or physical or mental disability. The Constitutional Laws Subcommittee met on Tuesday, March 9 where they heard testimony on the bill from 28 individuals. On Thursday, March 11, the Constitutional Laws Subcommittee reconvened to debate the bill when Representative Murphy offered a strike and insert amendment which does the following: narrowed the categories subject to hate crimes to six (race, color, religion, national origin and physical or mental disability), added “up to” language related to penalties so judges would have discretion when sentencing and deleted all language pertaining to civil cause of action. The bill was reported out favorably to the full Judiciary Committee. The full House Judiciary Committee adopted H.3620 with additional amendments which reinserted sexual orientation and gender identity, removed stalking, harassment and malicious injury and named the legislation the “Clementa C. Pinckney Hate Crimes Act” after the state senator who was killed when Dylann Roof killed him along with eight others at the Emanuel AME church June 2015 in Charleston, SC. The bill was sent to the House floor where it passed by a vote of 70 ayes to 28 nayes on April 8 and sent to the Senate where it was referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary. H.3620 was discussed in a Senate Judiciary Subcommittee, April 21, 2021 where the bill was reported out favorably to the full Judiciary Committee with the understanding that amendments will be offered.  Senate Judiciary Committee reported the bill out favorably with amendments to the Senate floor. The bill is contested by Senators Kimbrell, Climer, Adams, Garrett, Cash, Verdin, Rice and Corbin

    H. 3939 similar (S.94 )  — Workers Compensation H.3939, as originally introduced, would exempt law enforcement officers from having to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that stress, mental injury, or mental illness arising out of or in the course of employment when the officer is directly involved in, or subject to, the use of deadly force in the line of duty stems from conditions that are extraordinary or unusual relative to the normal conditions of employment for purposes of collecting workers’ compensation.  The SCFOP legislative agent testified in support of the bill. The House Judiciary Committee amended the bill. The new bill language would do the following: Exempt first responders from having to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that stress, mental injury, or mental illness diagnosed as an anxiety disorder, conduct disorder, depression, obsessive-compulsive disorder, sleep-wake disorder, or post-traumatic stress disorder as described in the most recent edition of the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders published by the American Psychiatric Association and arises from the first responder's involvement in a significant traumatic experience or situation in the course and scope of his employment stems from conditions that are extraordinary or unusual relative to the normal conditions of employment for purposes of collecting workers’ compensation. Define “first responders” as law enforcement officers and firefighters, including volunteers. Define “significant traumatic experience” to mean one of 11 defined events such as witnessing a deceased minor or the death of a minor; witnessing an injury to a minor who subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department; participating in the physical treatment of an injured minor who subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department; manually transporting an injured minor who subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department; seeing for oneself a decedent whose death involved grievous bodily harm; witnessing a death, including suicide, that involved grievous bodily harm; witnessing a homicide regardless of whether the homicide was criminal or excusable, including murder, mass killing (killing three or more individuals in a single incident), voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and self-defense; witnessing an injury, including an attempted suicide, to a person who subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department if the person was injured with grievous bodily harm; participating in the physical treatment of an injury, including an attempted suicide, to a person who subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department if the person was injured with grievous bodily harm; manually transporting a person who was injured, including by attempted suicide, and subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department if the person was injured with grievous bodily harm; or using deadly force or being subjected to deadly force in the course of the employment.  Defines “grievous bodily harm” as serious bodily injury including fractured or dislocated bones, deep cuts, torn members of the body, serious damages to internal organs, and other severe bodily injuries. H.3939 was passed out of the House and sent to the Senate and referred to Senate Judiciary. 

    H.3711  No Workplace Penalties for Declining COVID-19 Vaccinations  - Under the provisions of this bill, COVID-19 vaccinations would be deemed voluntary, and no employer could take any adverse action against any employee declining vaccination. This legislation was introduced and referred to the House Judiciary Committee. 

    Senate Weekly Meetings

    S.94  — Workers Compensation - Eliminates the requirement that emergency responders establish that “extraordinary and unusual” conditions occurred in order for PTSD to be covered as a compensable workers’ compensation injury for emergency responders. Under South Carolina workers’ compensation insurance program, a worker who has suffered job-related injuries is supposed to be able to obtain payments to cover all medical expenses and long-term benefits for a permanent disability, as well as a portion of lost earnings.  However, South Carolina’s current workers’ compensation law says that for stress, mental injuries and mental illness suffered due to job conditions “unaccompanied by physical injury” to warrant medical benefits, the conditions that caused the injury must be shown to have been “extraordinary and unusual in comparison to the normal conditions of the particular employment.”  

    The new bill language - Exempts first responders from having to establish by a preponderance of the evidence that stress, mental injury, or mental illness diagnosed as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) arising from a “significant traumatic experience” in the course of employment stems from conditions that are extraordinary or unusual relative to the normal conditions of employment for purposes of collecting workers’ compensation.  Defines “first responders” as law enforcement officers and firefighters, including volunteers.  Defines “significant traumatic experience” which is outlined in the bill as eleven defined events such as  Witnessing a deceased minor or the death of a minor; witnessing an injury to a minor who subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department; participating in the physical treatment of an injured minor who subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department; manually transporting an injured minor who subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department; seeing for oneself a decedent whose death involved grievous bodily harm; witnessing a death, including suicide, that involved grievous bodily harm; witnessing a homicide regardless of whether the homicide was criminal or excusable, including murder, mass killing (killing 3 or more individuals in a single incident), voluntary manslaughter, involuntary manslaughter, and self-defense; witnessing an injury, including an attempted suicide, to a person who subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department if the person was injured with grievous bodily harm; participating in the physical treatment of an injury, including an attempted suicide, to a person who subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department if the person was injured with grievous bodily harm; manually transporting a person who was injured, including by attempted suicide, and subsequently died before or upon arrival at a hospital emergency department if the person was injured with grievous bodily harm; or using deadly force or being subjected to deadly force in the course of the employment. Defines “grievous bodily harm” as serious bodily injury including fractured or dislocated bones, deep cuts, torn members of the body, serious damages to internal organs, and other severe bodily injuries.  The bill is on the Senate floor where it is on the calendar for debate. The bill is objected to by Senator Turner.  

    S.150 — Medical Marijuana - “South Carolina Compassionate Care Act” creates a regulated medical cannabis program to allow individuals with serious illnesses to use and access medical cannabis when recommended by a physician. This bill outlines qualifications for the program, outlines limitations on the uses of medical cannabis, and provides legal protections and safeguards. The legislation also provides that localities may regulate the locations, hours, and number of medical cannabis businesses but may not completely prohibit dispensaries from operating.  S.150 was passed out of Senate Medical Affairs and on Thursday, January 20, 2022 the SC Senate set S.150 for Special Order. Senator Corbin asked to be recorded as voting against the Special Order.

    S. 176Establishes the "South Carolina Shared-Risk Defined Benefit Plan".  Members of the Committee are Senator Sean Bennett, Chairman, Senator Darrell Jackson, Senator Kent Williams, Senator John Scott, Senator Tom Corbin, Senator Greg Hembree, and Senator Mike Gambrell.  The subcommittee took testimony on March 30 and April 7 and receded at the call of the Chairman. 

    S. 248Enacts the “South Carolina Hands-Free Act” which prohibits holding a device while driving to compose, read, or send any text-based communication, including text, email, instant message, internet data, or video. The Senate Transportation Committee gave the bill a favorable report, as amended, and the bill is pending second reading on the Senate calendar. 

    S. 378  — Police Animals - The bill amends current law relating to teasing, maltreating, or injuring police dogs and horses. Those convicted of such crimes would be required to pay restitution to the appropriate law enforcement agency to cover the full cost of restoring or replacing a police dog or horse that was injured or killed and may be ordered to complete up to 500 hours of community service with an animal-related organization. S.378 received third reading and sent to the House where it was referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

    S. 609  Criminal Background Checks - This bill would authorize state agencies and political subdivisions to obtain state and national criminal history background checks and investigations performed by the State Law Enforcement Division and the Federal Bureau of Investigation on all employees and contractors with access to federal tax information to comply with Internal Revenue Service Publication 1075. S. 609 was signed into law and became effective May 17, 2021.

    S. 658. Retirement Beneficiary - This bill would specify that a member of the state retirement system who is not retired may nominate a contingent beneficiary for receipt of payment on death of the member within all state retirement systems. Currently, only active contributing members may nominate a contingent beneficiary. This bill would allow members who are not active contributing members, but are not yet retired, to make this nomination. This bill would also make technical clean-ups and provide conforming language for the Public Employee Benefits Authority (PEBA) and the retirement and insurance programs. S.658 was signed into law May 17, 2021 and was effective July 1, 2021.

    Major Categories/Issues Impacting Law Enforcement

    • COVID 19 – Presumption (Establishes a presumption that a first responder, health care provider, or correctional officer contracting COVID-19 is entitled to Workers' Compensation benefits as an occupational disease)
    • Elimination/Increased Amount when Returning to Covered Employment 
    • Income Tax Deductions/Exemptions for Retired Law Enforcement
    • Worker’s Compensation Regarding Mental/Mental Injury (Provides that a limitation on stress, mental injuries, and mental illness for Workers' Compensation claims does not apply to a first responder diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder)
    • Law Enforcement Training, Certification, Tactics (i.e., Chokeholds/Duty to Intervene/No Knock Warrants) and Other Procedures;
    • Body Cameras (Funding and Data Preservation); In-Car Camera Systems (Funding)
    • Gun Carry
    • Law Enforcement Agency Minimum Standards 
    • Asset Forfeiture Procedures
    • Biased Based Crimes
    • Legalization of Marijuana 


     


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