Good News Out of Columbia

The State Transportation Infrastructure Bank’s vote to withdraw from the three-party contract to complete the Mark Clark Expressway was hugely disappointing for everyone who cares about traffic, safety and mobility in our region. Read the Chamber’s statement on Tuesday’s STIB decision.

While that setback was a bitter pill, there were also great headlines from Columbia this week.

Let’s focus on the positive news.

The General Assembly returned to Columbia on Wednesday to tackle their unfinished business. The House and Senate promptly decided to override Governor McMaster’s veto of the Expungement Bill (H.3209) by overwhelming margins. The vote was 108-1 in the House and 35-5 in the Senate, well over the two-thirds necessary for the override.

The Expungement Bill helps address our state’s workforce shortage by allowing one-time, non-violent offenders who’ve paid their debt to society a chance to clear their criminal record. A clear criminal record opens more job opportunities for former offenders and creates a larger workforce for South Carolina employers. This is another huge win for the state’s business community.

The legislative winning streak continued on Thursday when a conference committee comprised of House and Senate members advanced a measure to expand the state’s economic development incentive programs to attract and retain high-impact jobs. This opportunity arose in the closing hours of session last month when Senators added language from an agribusiness tax credit incentives bill (S.404) that was stuck in the House Ways and Means Committee to the SC Abandoned Buildings and Revitalization Act (S.1043).

The conference committee met twice over the two days and kept the incentive language in the bill. Both the House and Senate approved the conference report and the SC Abandoned Buildings and Revitalization Act (S.1043) now goes to the Governor’s desk for his signature.

South Carolina has a great track record of expanding manufacturing jobs and our competitive mix of economic development incentives is a major success factor. However, our toolbox is pretty light when it comes to R&D and tech sector jobs. This measure will give the state more tools to attract and keep companies in high-impact, knowledge-based sectors.

Also this week, the legislature reached an agreement and passed two significant energy reform bills, one of which includes a 15% rate reduction for SCANA customers. Read extended Advocates coverage of this issue here.

Workforce Expungement and High Impact Incentives bring the total Chamber legislative priority victories to four in 2018. Given the headwinds this year, had you told me in January that by June we’d have four wins, I’d have said you were dreaming.

Passing legislation is a team sport. The star players are the elected leaders who understand business priorities and carry water for us every day. It was great to have an opportunity to thank many of them on Tuesday night at the State Delegation Appreciation event. I also want to thank everyone who helped formulate our agenda or added their voice via calls and emails.

The Chamber has influence because of the employers we represent. When you speak, lawmakers listen. Thank you.

George Ramsey,
CMCC Business Lobbyist

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Government Relations

Bonus Advocates: Energy Bills Update