2019 SCACS Legislative Hot Issues:

By February 9, 2019Blog

2019 Key Issue:  Tobacco Stamp Extension

SCACS has been working with the legislature, state agencies, and other tobacco stakeholders to statutorily extend a grace period to allow retailers to sell tobacco products that don’t have tobacco stamps affixed to them.  The Department of Revenue granted retailers a 90 day grace period that ends on April 1st, 2019.  Without legislation extending the timeline, all tobacco products without tax stamps affixed would then be considered contraband.

Key Players: 

Governor McMaster & Staff

Attorney General Alan Wilson and Staff

Hartley Powell, Director of Department of Revenue & staff

House Ways & Means Chairman Murrell Smith (R – Sumter)

Senate Labor & Commerce Chairman Thomas Alexander (R-Oconee)

Status Update:

We have met with Chairman Murrell Smith and Chairman Thomas Alexander regarding this issue and they both agreed to introduce Joint Resolutions extending the date to July 1.  Senator Alexander introduced a Joint Resolution (S.398) on 1/22/19.  The Senate Finance Subcommittee took the bill up on 1/29/19 where it was amended to extend the grace period to October 1 and it received a favorable report.  S.398 received an unanimous favorable report from the full Senate Finance Committee.

Joint Resolutions in both the House and Senate came up on 2/7/19 at the exact same time. Both bodies adopted amendments to give tobacco retailers until October 1st to get tax paid, but unstamped cigarettes sold or otherwise disposed of. The House then passed their amended version on 2nd reading and then voted by unanimous consent to give it a 3rd and final reading on 2/8/19. It will head to Senate on Tuesday 2/12/19.

The Senate adjourned debate on their resolution when Senator Malloy from Darlington wanted the weekend to “talk to his folks back home”. The Senate sponsor, Senator Alexander, as well as the Senate Finance Committee staff have been alerted that the House version is headed their way with the hopes that they can act on that version since it will have already passed that one body.

2019 Key Issue:  Tobacco Pre-emption

Rep. Gary Simrill (R-York) and Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-Richland) pre-filed H.3274 (Tobacco Pre-emption) that would prevent local governments from banning certain tobacco and vaping products.  This bill would prevent any local government from banning tobacco/e-cigarette products based on ingredients, flavors and licensing requirements on those products.

Key Players:

Gary Simrill, House Majority Leader (R-York)

Todd Rutherford, House Minority Leader (D-Richland)

Status Update:

SCACS testified in support of this bill at the Ways & Means subcommittee and it received a favorable report unanimously. The bill was then reported out favorably by the full Ways & Means committee.  It will likely be taken up in the House as early as next week (Week of February 4th).  It will be important that we have SCACS members reach out to their legislators to push them to support this statewide tobacco pre-emption bill.

2019 Key Issue:  Youth Vaping Prevention

Rep. Beth Bernstein (D-Richland) introduced 3 bills in the House regarding prevention of youth access to vaping products. The 3 bills were combined into one bill (H.3420).  The bill addresses youth vaping prevention at schools, requiring additional measures for online purchases of vaping products, and preventing youth from entering tobacco/e-cigarette shops.   SCACS worked with Rep. Beth Bernstein to add additional language to ensure that the legislation would not prevent youth from entering convenience stores.

Key Players:

Rep. Beth Bernstein (D-Richland)

Status Update:

SCACS successfully worked with Rep. Beth Bernstein to ensure that the legislation would not prevent youth from entering convenience stores.  The bill was adopted unanimously by the House Judiciary Committee and is scheduled to be taken up in the House chamber next week (Week of February 4th).

2019 Key Issue:  Tax Reform

The SC Chamber and Republicans are pushing for wholesale tax reform.  This would include getting rid of certain exemptions that are currently in statute.

Key Players:

SC Chamber of Commerce

Speaker of the House, Jay Lucas (R-Darlington)

House Ways & Means Chairman Murrell Smith (R – Sumter)

Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman (R – Florence)

Governor McMaster

Status Update:

Bills have not been introduced yet, but we are monitoring this because we anticipate that large tax reform could have an impact on SCACS members.

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