Thursday, January 17, 2019

Legislative pushes for 2019

The Municipal Association has three Advocacy Initiatives for 2019, developed with the input of hundreds of municipal officials during the 2018 Regional Advocacy Meetings:

  • Update the Local Government Fund formula to guarantee a reliable funding level that is fair to cities and towns of all sizes. The LGF brought stable revenue to cities and towns four a couple of decades leading up to the Great Recession, but has provided reduced revenue and unpredictable changes since then. In this session, a bipartisan group of House members are sponsoring H3137 to tackle this issue. This bill would require the LGF to increase each fiscal year by the same percentage that the state general fund is projected to increase, not to exceed five percent compared to the amount in the current fiscal year.
  • Expand flexibility for using accommodations and hospitality taxes to allow expenditures for infrastructure in tourist-related areas. Bills have been introduced in the House and Senate addressing this: H3132 and S217. These types of tax revenue can be used for tourism-related expenditures, including advertising, building and maintaining cultural facilities and providing necessary city services for tourists and tourist facilities. Both of these bills add tourism-related site preparation, as well as flooding control and drainage for tourism-related areas, to the list of acceptable expenditures.
  • Reduce the wait time for local law enforcement hires to be admitted to the Criminal Justice Academy. Keeping police rosters filled is a key need for law enforcement agencies in South Carolina, and one which requires as much efficiency in graduating officers from the Academy as possible. By supporting the Criminal Justice Academy’s funding request, and supporting the effort to move the Academy off of unreliable fines and fee assessments to a more reliable, recurring source, the Association is also supporting an increase in Academy capacity that will result in much shorter wait times.
Cities and towns can’t push for legislative action unless they’ve cultivated relationships with their delegation. A recent Uptown article highlighted the ways local officials can get these relationships up and running, and what they should know about advocating for their needs effectively.