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Senate Republicans finally came together last week on a road funding plan, passing a bill that left the motor fuel user fee unchanged and restructures the Department of Transportation (DOT). The bill, proposed by the Senate, would restructure the appointment of DOT Commissioners, allowing the Governor to select one commissioner from each congressional district and one at-large member to serve as chair, with all appointments being approved by the Senate. The commission will then select the secretary of the DOT, with Senate approval. The bill would add $400 million of recurring revenue annually to the DOT for road and bridge improvement. Thank you to Senator Larry Grooms for leading the charge on the Senate compromise plan. The bill has now been sent to the House for consideration. The House added an additional $100 million for roads to their budget proposal (coming from DMV fines and fees), bringing the total amount budgeted this year for roads to over $400 million. While they will not take up the roads bill passed by the Senate for another couple of weeks, they will likely amend the Senate version and send it back to the Senate, who will probably not agree with the House changes. In which case, the bill will then go to a conference committee later this spring. If a decision is reached, it will not be until June. Either way, both the House and Senate agree this is not a long-term solution. In other legislative news, the Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce has been working with the South Carolina Military Base Task Force to pass legislation allowing a tax exemption for military retiree pay. This legislation helps make South Carolina more military friendly in the eyes of the Department of Defense, and will help the state retain more military personnel, who can potentially become part of the private-sector workforce. The measure passed the House last year and the Senate Finance Committee passed the bill this week. It will now be considered by the full Senate.
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Road Funding Still Not a Done Deal/ Update on Military Retiree Pay