THE STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
In The Supreme Court
The South Carolina Public Interest Foundation, and Edward D. Sloan, Jr., individually, and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Petitioners,
Robert W. Harrell, Jr., in his official capacity as Speaker of the S. C. House of Representatives, Andre Bauer in his official capacity as President of the S. C. Senate, and The State of South Carolina, Respondents.
IN THE ORIGINAL JURISDICTION
Opinion No. 26506
Heard March 4, 2008 - Filed June 23, 2008
James G. Carpenter, Jennifer J. Miller and Lewis W. Clayton, all of Carpenter Law Firm, of Greenville, for Petitioner.
Bradley S. Wright and Charles F. Reid, both of Columbia, for Respondent Robert W. Harrell, Jr.
Michael R. Hitchcock and Kenneth M. Moffitt, both of Columbia, for Respondent Andre Bauer.
Attorney General Henry D. McMaster and Assistant Deputy Attorney General J. Emory Smith, Jr., both of Columbia, for Respondent State of South Carolina.
Burnet R. Maybank, III, of Nexsen Pruet, of Columbia, for Amicus Curiae SC Manufacturers Alliance and Michelin N.A., Inc..
Weston Adams, III, Jeffrey N. Thordahl, and Ashley B. Stratton, all of McAngus Goudelock & Courie, of Columbia, for Amicus Curiae SC Economic Developers Association.
JUSTICE WALLER: We accepted this matter in our original jurisdiction to address Petitioners claim that numerous acts passed by the General Assembly in 2007 violate the one subject rule of the South Carolina Constitution, Article III, 17. We agree.
S.C. Const., Art. III, 17 provides that [e]very Act or resolution having the force of law shall relate to but one subject, and that shall be expressed in the title. The purpose of Article III, 17 is (1) to apprise the members of the General Assembly of the contents of an act by reading the title, (2) prevent legislative log-rolling and (3) inform the people of the state of the matters with which the General Assembly concerns itself. Sloan v. Wilkins, 362 S.C. 430, 608 S.E.2d 579 (2005). See also Keyserling v. Beasley, 322 S.C. 83, 470 S.E.2d 100 (1996). Article III, 17 is to be liberally construed so as to uphold an Act if practicable. Id.; McCollum v. Snipes, 213 S.C. 254, 49 S.E.2d 12 (1948). Doubtful or close cases are to be resolved in favor of upholding an Acts validity. Alley v. Daniel, 153 S.C. 217, 150 S.E. 691 (1929). Article III, 17 does not preclude the legislature from dealing with several branches of one general subject in a single act. It is complied with if the title of an act expresses a general subject and the body provides the means to facilitate accomplishment of the general purpose. Keyserling. However, Article III, section 17 requires that the topics in the body of the act [be] kindred in nature and hav[e] a legitimate and natural association with the subject of the title, and that the title conveys reasonable notice of the subject matter to the legislature and the public. Hercules, Inc. v. S.C. Tax Commn, 274 S.C. 137, 141, 262 S.E.2d 45, 47 (1980).
a. Act 49
The first Act challenged by Petitioners is 2007 Act No. 49, which establishes the South Carolina Critical Needs Nursing Initiative Act. The title to Act 49, as initially written, was as follows:
A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING CHAPTER 110 TO TITLE 59 SO AS TO ENACT THE SOUTH CAROLINA CRITICAL NEEDS NURSING INITIATIVE ACT INCLUDING PROVISIONS ESTABLISHING THE CRITICAL NEEDS NURSING INITIATIVE FUND, TO IMPROVE THE NUMBER OF QUALIFIED NURSES IN THIS STATE BY PROVIDING NURSING FACULTY SALARY ENHANCEMENTS, CREATING NEW FACULTY POSITIONS, PROVIDING FOR ADDITIONAL NURSING STUDENT SCHOLARSHIPS, LOANS, AND GRANTS, ESTABLISHING THE OFFICE FOR HEALTH CARE WORKFORCE RESEARCH TO ANALYZE HEALTH CARE WORKFORCE SUPPLY AND DEMAND, AND PROVIDING FOR THE USE OF SIMULATION TECHNOLOGY AND EQUIPMENT IN THE EDUCATION OF NURSES.
The bill went through three readings with minor changes until May 22, 2007, when its title was amended to add the following provisions:
TO AMEND SECTION 40-43-83, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO IN STATE FACILITIES DISPENSING DRUGS BEING REQUIRED TO BE PERMITTED BY THE BOARD OF PHARMACY AND BEING REQUIRED TO COMPLY WITH OTHER PROVISIONS, SO AS TO EXEMPT THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL FROM CERTAIN OF THESE REQUIREMENTS; TO AMEND SECTION 40-43-86, AS AMENDED, RELATING TO FACILITY REQUIREMENTS FOR PHARMACIES, INCLUDING THE REQUIREMENT FOR A PHARMACIST IN CHARGE, SO AS TO EXEMPT THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL FROM CERTAIN OF THESE REQUIREMENTS; AND BY ADDING SECTION 44-1-215 SO AS TO PERMIT THE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH AND ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL TO RETAIN CERTAIN FUNDS DERIVED FROM RADIATION SAFETY REQUIREMENTS.
As a result of these amendments, sections 3 and 4 were added, exempting DHEC from certain pharmacy requirements of S.C. Code Ann. 40-43-83, and amending 44-2-115, to allow DHEC to retain certain funds. Respondents and the Attorney General all concede the added provisions violate Article III, 17. We agree. The add-on provisions do not deal with the South Carolina Critical Needs Nursing Initiative Act such that they are violative of the one-subject provision.
The question remains, however, whether these provisions are severable from the remainder of Act 49, inasmuch as it contains no severability clause. Notwithstanding the lack of a severability clause, we find the surviving sections of the Critical Needs Act may stand alone.
We have previously held:
The test for severability is whether the constitutional portion of the statute remains complete in itself, wholly independent of that which is rejected, and is of such a character that it may fairly be presumed that the legislature would have passed it independent of that which conflicts with the constitution. When the residue of an Act, sans that portion found to be unconstitutional, is capable of being executed in accordance with the Legislative intent, independent of the rejected portion, the Act as a whole should not be stricken as being in violation of a Constitutional Provision.
Sloan v. Wilkins, 362 S.C. at 439, 608 S.E.2d at 584, citing Joytime Distribs. & Amusement Co. v. State, 338 S.C. 634, 649, 528 S.E.2d 647, 654 (1999). Notwithstanding the absence of a severability clause from Act 49, the legislative intent is clear, and the purposes of the Act may be complied with by upholding the Critical Needs Nursing Initiative Act. Accord Keyserling (one-subject clause is complied with if the title of an act expresses a general subject and the body provides the means to facilitate accomplishment of the general purpose). Accordingly, the offending portions of Act 49 are hereby severed.
b. Act No. 83
2007 Act No. 83 establishes the South Carolina Hydrogen Infrastructure Fund ( 1-4), and the Energy Freedom and Rural Development Act ( 10). As initially proposed, Act 83 contained only the Hydrogen Infrastructure Act. It was amended on May 2, 2007, adding 5 through 8 concerning economic impact zone tax credits for qualifying investments, amusement park sales-tax exemptions, creating the Board of Trustees for the SC Research Authority, and creating the South Carolina Venture Capital Authority. Act 83 was again amended on May 30, 2007, adding 9 through 18, which created the Energy Freedom and Rural Development Act ( 10), and added tax credits for alternative fuel usage. We find that 5, 6 and 8 of Act 83 do not relate to the main purpose of the act. Accordingly, those provisions are hereby severed.
We find the remaining sections of Act 83 sufficiently related to the goals of promoting hydrogen and alternative energy as to fall within the ambit of the Act. Accord Keyserling v. Beasley, 322 S.C. 83, 470 S.E.2d 100 (1996) (Article III, 17 does not preclude legislature from dealing with several branches of one general subject in a single act).
c. Act 110
Act 110 is the Research and Development Tax Credit Reform Act. With the exception of Sections 5 and 57, all of the remaining sections of Act 110 have been superseded by Act No. 116.
Respondents concede that Section 5 of the Act was enacted in violation of the one-subject rule; accordingly, it is stricken. The only remaining section of Act 110 which was not superseded by Act 116 is section 57, which provides for methane gas tax credit. We find this section relevant to the stated title of Act 110, the Research and Development Tax Credit Reform Act such that it is not in violation of the one-subject rule.
d. Act 116
Act 116 was initially introduced as H3479 to amend 12-10-80 relating to Job Development Credits. It was amended throughout the legislative process and now contains some 70 sections.
Petitioners do not point to any specific sections of Act 116 which are violative of the one-subject rule but contend, instead, that Act 116 relates to a total of 69 subjects. We find the majority of Act 116 is sufficiently related to the subject of raising revenue to withstand a one-subject challenge.
Act 116 contains the following sections:
the Jobs Tax Credit, multi-business park
2- the SC Venture Capital Authority
5- Income Tax Credit
6- Corporate license tax
7- Fee in Lieu of Taxes
8- Jobs tax credit
9- Property Tax Exemption
10- Reassessment Postponement
11- Wine Tastings
12- Contested Hearings Open To Public
13- Retail facilities tax credits
14- Definition of individual
15- Applicability of federal provisions
16- Pass through trade and business income
17- Deductions from taxable income
18- Jobs Tax Credit
19- Jobs Tax Credit
20- Jobs Tax Credit
21- Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credit
22- Industry Partnership Fund tax credit
23- Solar Installation tax credit
24- Extension for filing return
25- Nonresident seller withholding
26- Nonresident distributee withholding
27- Overpayment of Tax withheld
28- Holding company license fee
29- Exemptions from business license tax
30- Exemptions from sales tax
31- Tax free certificate
32- Credit for tax relief
33- Extension for filing or paying tax
34- Time limits on assessments
35- Penalties for understatement of taxes
36- Disclosure by the department
37- Disclosure by the department
38- Legislative intent
39- Administrative tax process
40- Tax millage increase limits
41- Department determination
42- Powers and duties of department
43- Applicability of federal law
44- Federal laws not adopted
45- Jobs tax credit
46- Small business tax credit
47- Sales tax exemption; construction materials
48- Surety for payment of taxes
49- Disclosure by the department
50- Payment in readily available funds
51- Estimation of tax liability
52- School district reimbursement
53- Tax credit certificates
54- Penalty prohibited
55- Allocation and apportionment of business income
56- Allocation and apportionment of business income
57- Conduct of business in this State
58- Definition of sales factor
59- Income from other sources
60- Computation; apportionment; repeal
61- Authority to invest
62- Sales tax exemption; amusement park
63- Economic impact zone credit
64- Property tax exemption; watercraft
65- Subchapter S bank shareholders
66- Boats with situs in this State
67- Special source revenue bonds
68- Fund established
69- Severability clause
70- One subject clause
71- Time effective
As is evident, the majority of these sections involve some type of revenue collection and or taxation. Many of the sections amend Title 12 of the S.C. Code, pertaining to taxation. Accordingly, to the extent the various sections of Act 116 are kindred in nature, we find the Act does not violate S.C. Const. Art. III, 17. Sloan v. Wilkins, (topics in body of an act must be kindred in nature and have a legitimate and natural association).
However, there are two sections of Act 116 which we find unrelated to the subject of revenue raising. In particular, 11 relating to Wine Tastings, and 68 which creates the South Carolina Renewable Energy Infrastructure Development Fund to provide loans and grants to entities engaged in renewable energy production. We conclude these sections are violative of Article III, 17 and hereby strike them. The remainder of Act 116 is upheld.
Those provisions of the aforementioned acts which violate the one-subject provision of Article III, 17, are stricken. We uphold the remaining portions of the challenged acts.
TOAL, C.J., MOORE and BEATTY, JJ., concur. PLEICONES, J., concurring in part and dissenting in part in
a separate opinion.
JUSTICE PLEICONES: I concur in the majoritys analysis of the log-rolling problems raised by these legislative acts, but I adhere to my dissenting opinion in Sloan v. Wilkins, 362 S.C. 430, 608 S.E.2d 579 (2005), and would hold that the provisions of these acts that violate Art. III, 17 are not severable. As I stated in Sloan v. Wilkins, severing certain provisions of an act neither prevents nor corrects log-rolling, but rather creates uncertainty and promotes arbitrary enforcement of the one-subject rule.
would hold that the unconstitutional provisions of the legislative acts are not
 We decline to address Petitioners contention that 2007 Act Nos. 130, 136, 142, 143 and 151 constitute special laws in violation of South Carolina Constitution, Article VIII, 7, and Article III, 34. Petitioners lack standing to challenge those acts. Sloan v. Sanford, 357 S.C. 431, 593 S.E.2d 470 (2004) (as a general rule, a litigant must have a personal stake in the subject matter of the litigation to have standing); Blandon v. Coleman, 285 S.C. 472, 330 S.E.2d 298 (1985) (private person may not invoke the judicial power to determine the validity of executive or legislative action unless he has sustained, or is in immediate danger, of sustaining prejudice therefrom).
 Sections 5, 6 and 8 of Act 83 are repeated verbatim as sections 2, 3 and 4, of Act 110, which is discussed below.
 We note that sections 5 (economic impact zone credit), 6 (amusement park tax exemption), and 8 (Venture Capital Authority) of Act 83 were reenacted in Act 116. Inasmuch as Act 83 has been superseded by Act 116, the issue is moot.