WINNSBORO — Fairfield County Council recently sent Rep. Mary Gail Douglas and Sen. Creighton Coleman letters asking that House Bill 3290 and Senate Bill 203 be tabled until more could be determined about the legislation’s affect on counties’ ability to manage their waste streams and recycling.
Council members expressed concern about the legislation at the Feb. 11 council meeting. Though the effect of the letter on Coleman was not readily apparent, it appeared that Douglas did take the letter into consideration, as a role call vote showed her to be against House Bill 3290.
The legislation has passed the house, however, and that has concerned county council.
“I am concerned that we were not talked to or asked an opinion. Senator Coleman was one of the writers of (the) bill and I feel there should be some communication there,” Councilwoman Mary Lynn Kinley said.
The legislation is called the Business Freedom to Choose Act, and its supporters call it an effort to create an opportunity for potential cost savings for the state. Among the issues is whether the counties would suffer from a weakened negotiating position when contracting out work for this type of waste disposal.
“Authority seems to be taken from the county and placed back at the state level. This is a prime example of home rule being taken away from home and then us losing authority to run the county. So the county is losing authority,” Fairfield County Council Chairman David Ferguson said.
According to a legislative report from the S.C. Association of Counties website, the legislation received a 5-2 favorable report in a Senate Medical Affairs subcommittee. According to the SCAG website, “H. 3290, as amended in subcommittee, voids any ordinance which ‘impedes the development or implementation of a public or private recycling program regardless of location.’”
This language threatens:
• zoning and land use regulations relating to the location of solid waste or recycling facilities,
• solid waste franchising ordinances which direct where waste must be taken,
• ordinances which direct all waste or recyclables collected go to a designated facility,
• solid waste fee ordinances,
• bonds to be paid using tipping fees tied to minimum usage agreements.
The website also states that “These types of ordinances are essential to any county’s ability to meet the requirements of the Solid Waste Management Act and DHEC regulations. Failure to comply with these requirements could subject a county to significant DHEC penalties and fines. The subcommittee chairman stated that he did not anticipate H. 3290 being reported out of the Medical Affairs Committee until some of the issues were worked out.”