COLUMBIA, S.C. – The proposed tolling of Interstate 95 is no longer in the 2019-20 state budget.
The South Carolina Senate approved the report of a six-member conference committee of senators and representatives regarding the state budget bill, 32-8, Tuesday afternoon. The budget report was also passed Tuesday by the House of Representatives.
According to state law, once the report of a joint committee is adopted by both chambers, the bill is enrolled for ratification. Once a ratification ceremony takes place, the budget bill will be sent to Gov. Henry McMaster for his signature or veto. The governor has five days, not including Sundays, to act upon the bill.
The conference committee consisting of Sens. Hugh K. Leatherman Sr., Darrell Jackson, and Sean Bennett and Reps. G. Murrell Smith, Gary Simrill and Todd G. Rutherford was appointed to rectify the differences between the budget bills in the two chambers of the South Carolina General Assembly.
The tolls on Interstate 95 were among the differences in the bill.
State Sen. Richard “Dick” Harpootlian added a proviso to the Senate’s version of the budget that would have immediately added a two-way toll on one side of Lake Marion. Harpootlian also added a proviso requiring the state’s department of transportation to implement the findings of a toll study that recommended placing tolls at three other locations along the interstate.
One of those locations was a two-way toll on one side of the bridge over the Great Pee Dee River that could have placed the toll in Florence, Dillon or Marlboro counties.
The conference committee elected to go with the House’s version that did not include Harpootlian’s provisos.
Interstate 95 runs from the Canadian border near Houlton, Maine to just south of downtown Miami. In South Carolina, the interstate runs from the North Carolina border near Dillon to the Georgia border near Hardeeville. The route of the interstate goes through Dillon, briefly through Marlboro, Florence, briefly through Darlington, Sumter, Clarendon, Orangeburg, Dorchester, Colleton, Hampton and Jasper counties.