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Last week, we unveiled our 2018 Legislative Agenda. This week, let’s dig deeper. We urge the state legislature to take action on the following issues this legislative session.
Priority: Secure $25.6 million to renovate Trident Technical College’s Berkeley Campus for advanced manufacturing and flexible classroom spaces.
Why it’s important: With Volvo’s new plant under construction and the expansion of the Mercedes-Benz Vans facility, the need for a well-trained workforce has never been more critical. The renovated Berkeley Campus will help prepare more of our local workforce for good paying manufacturing jobs.
Priority: Address the state’s workforce shortage by allowing a one-time expungement of minor, non-violent drug crimes that often hamper future employment.
Why it’s important: With the region continuing to add jobs, everyone willing and able to work has an opportunity for gainful employment. This legislation gives one time, non-violent offenders who’ve paid their debt to society a chance to have their records cleared. A clear criminal record allows more job opportunities for former offenders and a larger workforce for South Carolina employers.
Military Retention and Expansion
Priority: Support the statewide military retention plan created by the South Carolina Military Base Task Force and fund its implementation.
Why it’s important: It took the Charleston region years to recover from the economic and employment loses of the Navy Base closure in 1996. Currently, Joint Base Charleston has grown to have a $10.6 billion annual economic impact on the region. The Military Base Task Force retention plan was created to make sure all of our military facilities statewide are in the best position to keep (or even expand) our active missions when the next round of Base Realignment and Closure (BRAC) happens.
Priority: Fully exempt military retirement benefits from state income tax.
Why it’s important: When members of the military retire after 20 or more years of service, many want a second career and have skills that are highly sought by private sector companies. South Carolina is at a competitive disadvantage for attracting skilled military retirees because more than half of the states, including all of our neighbors, fully exempt their retirement benefits. Passage of this legislation evens the playing field for our companies.
Taxes and Regulation
Priority: Expand the state’s incentive programs to attract high-impact jobs including tech and R&D that don’t match current incentive programs.
Why it’s important: South Carolina has a great track record of attracting manufacturing jobs, and our competitive mix of economic development incentives are a major success factor. However, our incentive toolbox is pretty light when it comes to attracting R&D and tech sector jobs. This measure will give the state more tools to attract companies in high-impact sectors.
Priority: Reauthorize and expand the Angel Investor Tax Credit program.
Why it’s important: Funding is a challenge for many start-up companies. In most cases they don’t qualify from your typical business loans. This legislation improves our entrepreneurial ecosystem by expanding an existing tax credit to those willing to invest in early stage companies.
Priority: Remove the uncertainty of indefinite automatic stay on infrastructure and development projects caused by baseless lawsuits.
Why it’s important: Currently, anyone with a gripe and $600 can file a lawsuit and halt progress on an approved development or infrastructure project, often for as long as two years. This measure adds common sense parameters (such as demonstrating harm and posting bond) to limit the impact of such lawsuits. Passage of this measure will mean quicker completion timelines for major road and bridge projects.
Priority: Protect existing manufacturing and industrial facilities from frivolous litigation caused by new residential growth.
Why it’s important: Lawsuits don’t generally make for good neighbors, but that’s exactly what many established manufacturers face when new residential development happens nearby. This legislation protects existing manufacturing facilities from nuisance lawsuits as residential growth moves closer.
Priority: Ensure the future energy needs of residents and businesses are met.
Why it’s important: With the abandonment of the VC Summer nuclear power plants, the state’s future base-load generation is uncertain. South Carolina needs a plan for future power generation for the continued economic growth of our state.
Priority: Ensure there are sufficient protections in place for ratepayers moving forward.
Why it’s important: Commercial and residential utility ratepayers are currently paying for two nuclear power plants that may never generate any power. As the regulating bodies, which approve rate increases, are restructured, ratepayers need to be protected from similar issues in the future.
Criminal Justice Reform
Priority: Advance responsible reforms to the criminal justice system that strengthen public safety, reduce recidivism and address workforce needs.
Why it’s important: Prisons are one of the state’s biggest budget items. System reforms can reduce incarnation rates among nonviolent offenders, insure adequate prison space for people who are a danger to society and lower costs to the tax payer.
The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce encourages the General Assembly to address the following issues that impact economic competitiveness:
Issue: Fully fund the Education Finance Act (EFA), which is required by state law. This year an additional $487 million is needed for the EFA to be fully funded.
Why it’s important: In our knowledge-based economy, having a quality education has never been more important. Fully funding the K-12 system is an investment in our state’s future and will determine future economic growth.
Issue: Support of a bond bill for South Carolina colleges and universities to make critical capital and technology improvements.
Why it’s important: There hasn’t been a capital improvement bond bill for our state colleges and universities in more than 17 years. Some buildings on campuses are falling into disrepair. If state funding isn’t available, these schools will be left little alternative than to raise tuition for our students.
Issue: Identify funding sources to sustain and scale the Youth Apprenticeship Program developed in the Charleston region into a statewide program.
Why it’s important: The Chamber’s partnership with Trident Tech on the Youth Apprenticeship Program has been recognized as a national model by the U.S. Department of Labor. To scale up this successful program and produce the talented homegrown workforce our economy needs, sustained funding at the state/federal level is necessary.
Issue: Streamline the business license fee system and make the process more uniform while minimizing fiscal impacts to municipalities.
Why it’s important: For businesses who work in multiple municipalities, having to juggle multiple payment dates and processes is not just a pain, it’s a costly burden. Implementation of a streamlined, uniform system will save businesses time and money. The solution should not negatively impact municipalities.