Let the Solar In

Investing in solar and other renewable resources provides certainty and security regarding the cost of electricity, and intense competition within the solar industry continues to drive down the upfront cost of solar installations. Legislators can help develop these in-state resources while creating diverse, local jobs and improving South Carolina’s economy by passing H.3346. The Solar Energy Investment Tax Credit, by Rep. Dwight Loftis, provides a state tax credit of 35% to any taxpayer installing a residential or commercial solar energy system. In doing so, the bill elevates South Carolina’s sola r tax credit to be on par with that of North Carolina and Georgia, ensuring our state’s regional competitiveness. It also helps homeowners and companies invest in South Carolina’s abundant renewable energy resources while reducing dependence on imported fuels. We look to the Senate Finance Committee to support H.3346, recognizing that clean energy fuels new investments and local jobs.

Lobby Team Tuesday

Because the House is at recess until next week, there will be no lobby team this week. Join us Tuesday, April 17th when the SC Wildlife Federation and Camo Coalition come to the State House. The SCWF promotes effective habitat conservation and respect for outdoor traditions through statewide leadership, education, advocacy and partnerships. For more information on participating in weekly Lobby Teams visit the CVSC website or send an email to debbie@cvsc.org.

The 2012 Annual Conservation Lobby Day will be Tuesday, May 1st. Join hundreds of conservation community members at the State House as we gather to encourage support of the Common Agenda priorities! If you’d like to participate send an email to vanessa@thesoutherngreenie.com.

In the House

Alcoholic Beverage Container (ABC) Recycling (S.461, Sen. Ray Cleary) SUPPORT
S.461 creates a program for hotel, restaurant and bar owners to implement recycling in the next two years for plastic, corrugated cardboard, aluminum and glass. Businesses are exempt from the recycling program if they cannot afford to recycle, and liquor permits cannot be revoked for failure to comply. This bill needs a hearing in the Agriculture Subcommittee (Rep. David Hiott- Chair, Bill Crosby, Chandra Dillard and Chris Murphy). Email Chairman Nelson Hardwick to ask him to support common sense recycling.

Abandoned Buildings Revitalization Act (H.4802, Rep. James Smith/ S.1330, Sen. Creighton Coleman) SUPPORT
This legislation is in response to the hundreds of abandoned buildings that are blighting many communities all over South Carolina. H.4802 would create a 25% state income tax credit applied to the rehabilitation of a building that has been abandoned for at least five years, that will be utilized for commerce and that will have at least $500,000 invested. The full Ways and Means Committee gave this bill a favorable report two weeks ago. It will be considered by the full House when it returns from furlough the week of April 17th.

Local Food in Schools (H.4200, Rep. Nelson Hardwick) SUPPORT
H.4200 requires the Department of Agriculture to create and maintain a program to encourage schools to serve locally grown, minimally processed farm foods. The full Agriculture Committee gave this bill a favorable report two weeks ago and the full House will consider the bill upon its return the week of April 17th.

Property and Firefighter Protection Bill (H.4082, Rep. Ted Vick/S.1348, Sen. John Land) SUPPORT
This legislation would transfer 7% of taxes already being collected on insurance premiums that currently go into the state’s General Fund to the Forestry Commission to protect property, firefighters, the public, and grow the forest industry. This is not a new tax, and will not take funds from other organizations which currently receive direct funding from insurance taxes and fees. H.4082 has been assigned to the House Ways and Means Committee and S.1348 has been assigned to the Senate Banking and Finance Committee.

In the Senate

Polluter Bill (H.4654, Rep. Nelson Hardwick/S.1126, Sen. Harvey Peeler) OPPOSE unless amended
A recent Supreme Court ruling affirmed protections for all of our state’s waters, including Carolina Bays and wetlands, and the right of citizens to sue against harm to themselves or their property from pollution. H.4654 passed the House in an 85-22 vote in March, and two weeks ago the Senate Medical Affairs Committee (Sen. Harvey Peeler- Chair, John Courson, Dave Thomas, Wes Hayes, Darrell Jackson, Michael Fair, Brad Hutto, Ralph Anderson, Clementa Pinckney, Danny Verdin, Ray Cleary, Kevin Bryant, Joel Lourie, Shane Martin, Floyd Nicholson and John Scott), unanimously voted to again carry over debate on S.1126. They will continue their discussion Thursday, April 12 at 9:30 am in Gressette Room 209. We encourage Senators to adopt the conservation amendment to clarify standing for citizens’ suits. This is a major 2012 Conservation Common Agenda priority. Email your Senator today to ask him to stand up for citizens’ rights.

Conservation Bank Sunset Extension (S.48, Sen. Glenn McConnell/H.3083, Rep. Mike Pitts) SUPPORT
Originally slated to end, or sunset, in 2013, these bills extend the life of the Conservation Bank. H.3083 will be considered by the full Senate this week. This is a major 2012 Common Agenda priority.

Solar Tax Credit Bill (H.3346, Rep. Dwight Loftis)
This bill establishes a 35% 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. H.3346 passed the House in a 100-10 vote last year, and will be considered by the Finance Sales and Income Taxation Subcommittee (Sen. Billy O’Dell- Chair, Dick Elliott, Mike Fair, Harvey Peeler and Glenn Reese) Thursday, April 12 at 2:00 pm in Gressette Room 207.

Commercial Center Retrofit Act (H.3604, Rep. James Smith) SUPPORT
This concurrent resolution encourages local governments to adopt ordinances allowing shopping malls to be redeveloped into “dense, walkable, mixed-use town centers.” The House adopted H.3604 last year and the full Judiciary Committee (Sen. Larry Martin -Chair, Robert Ford, Luke Rankin, Brad Hutto, Jake Knotts, Gerald Malloy, Vincent Sheheen, Chip Campsen, Ray Cleary, JoeI Lourie, Kent Williams, Paul Campbell, Shane Massey, Lee Bright, Creighton Coleman, Tom Davis, Shane Martin, Floyd Nicholson, Mike Rose, John Scott, Phillip Shoopman and Greg Gregory) will consider it Tuesday, April 10 at 3:00 pm in Gressette Room 308.

Safer Bike Routes (S.1375, Sen. Chip Campsen)
State law currently restricts the use of anything but an automobile on “controlled-access roadways-” for example the James Island Connector in Charleston. S.1375 provides exceptions for bicyclists and pedestrians to use these roadways if deemed appropriate by the municipality—particularly if the roadway is the safest available route. A Senate Transportation Subcommittee (Sen. Chip Campsen- Chair, Yancey McGill, Gerald Malloy, Ray Cleary, Vincent Sheheen, Paul Campbell and Lee Bright) will discuss this bill Wednesday, April 11 at 10:00 am in Gressette Room 308.

Plug-in Hybrid Bill (H.3059, Rep. Jim Merrill) SUPPORT
H.3059 would extend an existing state income tax credit of $2,000 for highway-speed, plug-in vehicles. The tax credit has an annual impact cap of $500,000 and is provided on a first-come, first- served, basis. Within three years, over a dozen hybrid models are expected to be available, providing economic, national security, and environmental benefits. This bill passed the House in a 64-40 vote last year, and is on the Senate calendar where Sen. Brad Hutto of Orangeburg has placed an objection on the bill.

Coastal and Marine Spatial Planning (H.4703, Rep. Mike Pitts) MONITOR
H.4703 is a concurrent resolution to affirm the state’s authority in determining appropriate activities and uses of the state’s water resources. Amendment language was added by stakeholders to recognize the critical role of states in federal ocean planning, including the gathering of coastal and marine spatial data. H.4703 was adopted unanimously by the House two weeks ago and sent to the Senate Agriculture Committee for consideration.

Provided by Debbie Parker of Conservation Voters of South Carolina

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