Columbia, SC (WLTX) - The outline for the final version of the highly anticipated roads bill is complete. Conference committee members, made up of three Senators and three House members met again on Friday to continue to work through the details.
The committee agreed to the Senate's version of the bill, with the 12 cent gas tax increase over the next 6 years.
The committee also agreed to a gas tax rebate for South Carolina drivers.
Deciding on the rebate took up most of the debate for the final plan.
Senator Larry Grooms, who is not on the conference committee, proposed the rebate. It will give South Carolina drivers the opportunity to get back the money they paid in the gas tax increase, by submitting receipts to the Department of Revenue (DOR).
They also agreed to adding one at-large commissioner to the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT). Currently there are eight members, representing the different congressional districts with one at-large seat. Now, there will be two at-large members.
All of the commissioners can be appointed or removed by the Governor, but must receive approval by the Joint Transportation Committee, made up of lawmakers.
Specific language in the bill will change when it comes to the approving one of the at-large seats. So, there will need to be a free conference, where all lawmakers vote on the change, in order for it to remain in the bill.
A road user fee of $60 for hybrid drivers or $120 for alternative fuel drivers over the next two years was included to the bill.
Senator Vincent Sheheen, D-Kershaw, says he's happy with the final product.
"It's been an incredibly long week and today has been a lot of hard work, but we've arrived at a compromise that will really allow us to fix roads in South Carolina in the long term," he says. "This state has done this piecemeal, patchwork. The result has been a lot of potholes, people hurt and a lot of damage. I can see now, with this package that has been put together by the House and the Senate, it's a long term fix for the roads of South Carolina."
The plan will give $600 million to fund roads.
The bill will now head to a free conference, where the Senate and the House vote on the final version. They hope that there will be a super-majority vote to help override a potential veto from Governor Henry McMaster.
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