As the 11th week of the second regular session of the 121st South Carolina General Assembly comes to an end, not much has changed for the engineering community. This is worth noting since this is the second year of a two- year session, so any bill not passed this year will have to start over next session.
The main legislation the engineering community is working on is S.685/H.3928 which is the Engineering and Surveying Practice Act. These bills were introduced last year, and are currently assigned to the Senate and House Labor Commerce and Industry Committees. We are currently have a sub-committee hearing scheduled for S.685 on April 13, 2016 at 10:00 AM in room 407 in the Gressette Building. These bills update the current practice act. S.685/H.3928 specify the procedures for procuring professional services by political subdivisions, ends brokering of engineering and surveying services, as well as protects the term Engineer to mean a professional engineer. We have a postcard printed and going out all of the engineers registered in the state asking them to contact their legislators as well as those on the Senate LCI committee asking them to pass S.685 as written. The members on the Senate L.C.I. sub-committee where our bill is sitting are Senators Karl B. Allen, Sean Bennett, Kevin Bryant, Raymond Cleary, Tom Davis, and Glenn Reese. Please call, write, and email to these Senators, as well as all of the members on the Senate LCI Committee, and ask them to support the engineering community by passing S.685 as written.
We have actually seen some movement in infrastructure funding this year. After a Senate filibuster started in mid-February, a deal was made late March 3, 2016. This bill passed the senate with at 30 – 15 vote, and sends $400 million from general funds to roads. This bill does not raise the motor fuel user fee, leaving the question of whether this is a long term fix or not. The bill has been sent back to the House of Representatives, but likely will not be taken up for another few weeks, as the House is currently working on the state budget, and then will go on furlough.
Other bills for engineers to pay attention to are S.408/H.4661. These bills deal with the procurement of piping materials. The bills give a preference to PVC piping. It is ACEC-SC/SCSPE’s opinion that the engineer in charge should have the final say in materials when stamping a design. Though we thought these bills were done for the year, in the two past weeks, two House members have agreed to sponsor H.4661, so we may see it back this year.
In order to move or stop legislation we will be calling on our members to answer calls to action. Please answer these calls and contact your Senator and your House or Representatives member. We will keep you informed as the legislative session continues.