HORRY COUNTY, SC (WMBF) - A local lawmaker has proposed an amendment to the law that dictates when and how public utilities can enter private property.
Representative Jeff Johnson introduced House Bill 4020 on March 22. It adds a law to the law that says, “The condemner shall mail, by first class mail, notice of its application for an ex parte order to the landowner at least five days prior to the execution of the ex parte order.”
Right now, Santee Cooper is in the process of building a transmission line connecting Marion to Red Bluff. When some landowners didn't agree to let the utility on their property to survey the land, Santee Cooper got a judge to sign an order ex parte, meaning the landowners weren't represented in court the day it was signed. In fact, several landowners told us they didn't know the hearing was happening.
Rep. Johnson did say he doesn't expect the change to happen quickly. He doesn't think the bill will get a vote before the session ends in May, but he does hope a sub-committee can approve it before lawmakers wrap up this year. Then, it would get a vote early next year.