South Carolina Public Interest Foundation and Edward D. Sloan Jr., individually, and on behalf of all others similarly situated, Appellants,
The South Carolina House of Representatives; the South Carolina Senate; the Honorable James H. "Jay" Lucas, as Speaker of the South Carolina House of Representatives; the Honorable Hugh K. Leatherman Sr., in his capacity as President Pro Tempore of the South Carolina Senate; and the State of South Carolina, Respondents. Appellate Case No. 2017-001638
October 17, 2018
From Richland County L. Casey Manning, Circuit Court Judge
G. Carpenter, of Greenville, for Appellants.
Mattison Bogan and Matthew A. Abee, both of Nelson Mullins
Riley & Scarborough, LLP, and Kenneth M. Moffitt, all of
Columbia, Paul D. Harrill and Bradley S. Wright, both of
McNair Law Firm, P.A., of Columbia, Attorney General Alan
Wilson, Solicitor General Robert D. Cook and Deputy Solicitor
General J. Emory Smith, Jr., all of Columbia, for
Sloan and the South Carolina Public Interest Foundation
(collectively, Appellants) filed suit alleging Act 275 of
2016 violated article III, section 17 of the South Carolina
Constitution (the One Subject Rule).Appellants claim Act
275's title is insufficient and its provisions relate to
more than one subject, violating the One Subject Rule. The
trial court dismissed the complaint on numerous grounds. We
do not address all of these issues but elect to resolve the
appeal on the merits. While the Court has not hesitated to
strike down legislation that violates the One Subject Rule,
the Court has also respected the separation of powers
doctrine and upheld legislation where a close question is
presented. The constitutional challenge to Act 275 does not
present a close question-Act 275 manifestly complies with the
One Subject Rule. The trial court's dismissal of the
complaint is affirmed.
2016, the South Carolina General Assembly passed Act 275, and
the Governor signed it into law. Act No. 275, 2016 S.C. Acts
1807. Act 275 has three parts, including Part I:
"Governing the Improvement of the State's
Transportation Infrastructure System;" Part II:
"Funding the Improvement of the State's
Transportation Infrastructure System;" and Part III:
"Transition Provisions and Effective Date." Act No.
275, 2016 S.C. Acts at 1809, 1818, 1853 (some emphasis
stated purpose of Act 275 was "improving the state's
transportation infrastructure system." Act No. 275, 2016
S.C. Acts at 1854. Act 275 makes financial changes to the
State Highway Fund and structural changes to the Commission
of the Department of Transportation (Commission), the
Secretary of Transportation, the Joint Transportation Review
Committee, the Department of Transportation (DOT), and the
State Transportation Infrastructure Bank. Further, Act
275's title indexes all of its key provisions. Act No.
275, 2016 S.C. Acts at 1807-55.
allege that Act 275 violates the One Subject Rule because the
title does not state its general purpose and its provisions
relate to more than one subject. At the trial court level,
the judge dismissed Appellant's case for lack of standing
and failure to state a claim. While the trial court purported
to dismiss the action for failure to state a claim, it ruled
upon the merits, finding Act 275 complied with the One
Subject Rule. Appellants appealed arguing, among other
things, that Act 275 violates the One Subject Rule. We
certified this case from the court of appeals pursuant to
Rules 203(d)(1)(A)(ii) and 204(a), SCACR.
issue before the Court is whether Act 275 violates the One
Subject Rule. For reasons we will explain, we hold Act
275 complies with the One Subject Rule and affirm on the
to the One Subject Rule, "Every Act or resolution having
the force of law shall relate to but one subject, and that
shall be expressed in the title." S.C. Const. art. III,
§ 17. "The purpose of [the One Subject Rule] is to
prevent the General Assembly from being misled into passing
bills containing provisions not indicated in their titles,
and to apprise the people of the subject of proposed
legislation and thus give them an opportunity to be heard if
they so desire." Keyserling v. Beasley, 322
S.C. 83, 86, 470 S.E.2d 100, 102 (1996) (citations omitted).
The One Subject Rule "is to be liberally construed so as
to uphold [an a]ct if practicable." Id.
"Doubtful or close cases are to be resolved in favor of
upholding an [a]ct's validity." Id.
Additionally, the One Subject Rule "does not preclude
the [General Assembly] from dealing with several branches of
one general subject in a single act." Id. The
One Subject Rule has two requirements: (1) the topics of an
act must reasonably and inherently relate to each other, and
(2) the title of an act must put the General Assembly and
public on notice of its provisions. Id. at 87, 470
S.E.2d at 102; Hercules Inc. v. S.C. Tax Comm'n,
274 S.C. 137, 141-42, 262 S.E.2d 45, 48 (1980).
contend Act 275 violates the One Subject Rule because (1) the
title does not state the subject in general terms; and (2)
Act 275 pertains to more than one subject because it contains
both structural and financial provisions and ...