Each week, the South Carolina Fraternal Order of Police releases it’s Statehouse Report detailing legislation which impacts law enforcement.

 

Tax Relief

Governor’s FY19-20 Executive Budget places an immediate and full retirement income tax exemption for military veterans and first responders, including retired state and federal law enforcement, firefighters and peace officers, representing $20,742,570 in relief the first year.  Ways and Means adopted to fund $20 million to exempt from income taxes the retirement income of military veterans and first responders, saving the average first responder and military veteran $350 each year.

 

S.173 by Hembree provides tax deductions for military and first responders.

 

Governor’s FY19-20 Executive Budget states that surpluses in state government revenues do not mean we have to spend it all; a surplus means prioritizing the most critical needs in state government and returning whatever we can back to the taxpayers. This year, the State of South Carolina had $988,890,280 in surplus revenue. After putting dollars toward needed priorities, $200 million remains in this budget. The Department of Revenue will issue a rebate to all residents of South Carolina who filed an SC1040 – 2018 Individual Income Tax Return on or before October 15, 2019. The amount of the rebate for each individual taxpayer, regardless of filing status, will be based on the number of residents that filed a 2018 Individual Income Tax Return. The Department of Revenue will issue all rebates no later than December 15, 2019, on a basis proportional to the amount paid.

 

S461  by Sen(s) Sheheen and Gambrell increases the deduction for certain firefighters, law enforcement officials and members of the State Guard from $3,000 – $6,000.

 

PTSD

Proviso 62.23 located in the Budget Bill directs that of the funds appropriated, one half shall go to Law Enforcement Assistance Program (SCLEAP)  and the other half to SC Firefighter Assistance Support Team (FAST) to purchase insurance policies to pay out of pocket expenses for law enforcement, firefighters, emergency medical service personnel when receiving treatment for PTSD.  Funds may also be used to provide prevention and response initiatives to and for law enforcement, firefighters, and emergency medical service personnel. The program was created by the General Assembly in FY16-17 with nonrecurring funding of $500,000.  We are seeking $500,000 in the FY19-20 Budget. No funding was provided by the Ways and Means Committee.

 

S.326 is a Joint Resolution authored by Senator Massey that authorizes SLED to distribute $250,000 to the SC State Firefighters Association to provide PTSD insurance and programs. S.326 has passed  through the Senate and is currently in the House Ways and Means Committee. S.326 was recalled from committee.

 

Pal800 Radio Funds Request

First responders (state and local law enforcement, fire services, emergency medical services, etc) need your help in supporting passage and increased funding of proviso 93.18 located in the Department of Administration’s Section of the Budget bill.  The proviso was placed in the budget years ago and the funding has been eroded over time.  Cuts to this line item over the years have had a direct negative impact on the ability for many agencies to continue to use the statewide interoperable radio system Palmetto800.  The safety of our citizens must be all governments’ first priority.  Current funding for the statewide radio proviso is $1.2 million.  In FY07-08 it was $5 million which represented a match of $1 dollar for every $3 dollars spent for interoperability by state and local responders.  Today, the match is approximately 5 cents on the dollar spent.  State and local agencies are turning off their radios because of the lack of funding. The radio is a lifeline for many of our smaller communities.  Law enforcement and the fire service are requesting an additional $7.8 million to bring us back to the $1 dollar match for every $3 spent.  No additional funding was appropriated to current level of funding.

 

Return to Work

By proviso passed in FY18-19 budget –  retirees returning to work to be an SRO are not subject to a salary cap if they retired prior to December 31, 2017. Currently there are several bills have been filed allowing retirees to return to work without a salary cap (S.256 (educators and PORS members), H.3184 (educators only), H.3185 (PORS members only), H.3191 (SROs only), H3620. (doesn’t cost system because member must be retired by January 2, 2019)

 

JUDICIARY

 

Assaulting a law enforcement officer, first responder or corrections officer ABHAN

H.3078 adds that assault and battery of a high and aggravated nature occurs when a person injures a federal, state, or local law enforcement officer or corrections officer, a firefighter or an emergency medical services worker in the discharge of or because of their official duties.

 

Identification Cards

H.3171 deals with the issuance of identification cards for retired law enforcement officers and under circumstances in which retired officers may carry a concealed weapon.  Removes several restrictions as to where retired officers may carry pistols.

 

H.3968 by Clemmons, et.al changes current law to enact the Asset Forfeiture And Private Property Protection Act which changes current law by ensuring that no person can lose their property unless they are convicted of a crime.

 

S421 by Scott amends Section 16-23-465 by prohibiting a CWP holder to carry a firearm into a premise that sells alcoholic beverages.

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John Blackmon

A retired law enforcement officer who now serves as the President of the Fraternal Order of Police Tri-County Lodge #3.
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