Sandifer works closely with executive branch and LLR director to fight for change.

For the last three years, Oconee County legislator Bill Sandifer has been fighting for significant reforms in the state’s Labor, Licensing and Regulation Board (LLR). Now, those reforms have become a reality.

At issue has been the fact that although licensing fees are set by a state statute requiring them to be “sufficient but not excessive,” many professional boards have been collecting more in licensing fees than is needed to cover their operating costs. Meanwhile, other boards have not been collecting enough to cover operating costs and have been forced to borrow from the accounts of other professional boards.

Sandifer’s objective has been to get each professional board, whether realtors or barbers, to be self-sustaining. In other words, he has wanted each board to set license fees, so that the dollars coming in would adequately cover expenses without creating a surplus, the model outlined in state regulations. For boards that were running a surplus, Sandifer wanted to give the extra money back to licensees in the form of lower fees.

About six months ago, LLR Director Holly Gillespie Pisarik began visiting individual professional boards to encourage them to change their fee structures, ensuring that none of them were collecting more than their operating costs. Recently, Pisarik has reported that all but 8 of the boards have agreed voluntarily to adjust their fee structures. These changes will mean that the thousands of South Carolinians who hold professional licenses will save more than a million dollars on their license fees over the next two years.

“I promised to fix LLR and adjusting professional license fees, so that they are not excessive, is a giant step forward for the people of our state,” Sandifer said. “This is an excellent example of what can happen when the legislative and executive branches of government work together in a spirit of cooperation.”

Sandifer credits Pisarik for visiting each of the boards individually to encourage them to make adjustments. In addition, he credits former LLR Director Catherine Templeton, now the director of the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control, with helping to drive the change early on.

Sandifer also has fought for regulation 4437, currently pending in the General Assembly, which would establish and amend schedules of fees for certain professional and occupational licensing boards and commissions. The new regulation, if passed, would allow the LLR Director to adjust the fees every two years as needed. It also would increase transparency by establishing a consistent method and regular timeline for setting license fees in South Carolina.