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2014 Legislative AGENDA

STATE ISSUES:
Water Withdrawal:
To address recent developments concerning water withdrawal and ag users, PABC has formed a task force to examine the issue and make recommendations concerning strategies.

Taxes:
Continue to support preserving agribusiness sales tax exemptions and property tax assessments.

Agency Budgets:
Continue to support the budgets of the SC Department of Agriculture, marketing and economic development dollars, the SC Forestry Commission, Clemson PSA and the agritourism budget of SCPRT, including agribusiness.
Highway Issues & Funding:
Last year, the General Assembly passed legislation that provided almost $600 million in funding for roads and bridges, but additional highway funding needs remain. PABC will continue to work collaboratively with other agribusiness and business partners on this issue, as well as address highway weight limits and posted bridge repairs & upgrades.

Tort Reform:
Continue to support tort reform efforts as it relates to agribusiness:
S. 773- Court Transparency Act- this proposed legislation addresses - companies employing or contracting with commercial driver’s license holders may be held liable for the tortious actions of the license holder. It includes a provision that will protect companies from liability for negligent hiring, negligent retention, or negligent entrustment, should the CDL holder be involved in an accident. It also addresses Seatbelt Admissibility by allowing juries to hear evidence regarding whether a seatbelt was worn or not, and Phantom Damages - it will prevent juries from awarding damages that exceed the actual out of pocket costs incurred by the plaintiff.
S. 788 – Liability Reform Act – this proposed legislation addresses Trespasser Responsibility and will protect landowners from liability for injuries to trespassers. It also addresses Consumer Lawsuit Lending- a growing number of companies provide the funding necessary to bring lawsuits in exchange for a portion of the settlement. This proposal will make such funding arrangements illegal and subject to the provisions of the SC Consumer Protection Code.
S.916- Codifies existing trespassing laws.

Energy:
Continue to explore State and Federal alternative energy efforts to include offshore drilling, 3rd party generators, clean energy and their impact on the agribusiness industry. In order for SC to position itself for offshore drilling opportunities, the SC General Assembly will be encouraged to pass a concurrent resolution supporting offshore drilling.

SC Coordinating Council for Economic Development:
Support the addition of a forestry industry representative to the Council.

REGULATORY ISSUES:
DHEC Permitting Time Frame:
Support a quicker process for approval of permits. Delays are occurring because of lack of resources at DHEC and processes.
DHEC Restructuring:
Monitor and evaluate restructuring legislation that would separate the components of health and environmental within the DHEC agency.

FEDERAL ISSUES:
Immigration
Continue to support federal comprehensive immigration legislation that allows agribusiness access to a stable and legal workforce.
 Farm Bill
 Support the passage of a Farm Bill by Congress to ensure certainty for agribusinesses.

Bills to Watch List:
H. 4400– Minimum Wage Increase— Bill increases minimum wage in SC to $10 per hour. Support SC not establishing minimum wage, but rather have this established by the Federal Minimum Wage.
S. 853—Deletion of Per Occurrence Cap under Tort Claims Act - Bill would delete the per occurrence cap, which is currently set at $600,000.
S. 852— Increase on Per Person Cap under Tort Claims Act—Bill would increase the per person cap from $300,000 to $500,000 under the Torts Claims Act. (Oppose- both of these bills will lead to an increase in lawsuits in SC, increasing costs for citizens.)