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Senate Roads Debate: We’ve Been Here Before
An eventful week at the State House ended with what can be best described by the Bill Murray classic Groundhog Day. It was a solid week of floor debate on the infrastructure bill, H.3516, with still no resolution in the South Carolina Senate. There is some good news; progress behind the scenes is continuing and many of the internal factions feel confident that the bill will be voted on next week. President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman addressed the Senate before they adjourned yesterday preparing, the deliberative body, to expect to work late and perhaps Friday next week if the bill hasn’t been voted on by Thursday.
A Plea for Help
Please take a few minutes today or over the weekend and contact your Senator. This is the last chance to make your voice heard on a long term funding solution for our states roads and bridges. Time is running out with only nine days remaining in this year’s legislative session. Your message should be simple:
The business community and I, as your constituent, urge you to pass the roads bill this year!
Senator Sean Bennett – District 38
Senator Paul Campbell – District 44
Senator Chip Campsen – District 43
Senator Stephen Goldfinch – District 34
Senator Larry Grooms – District 37
Senator Marlon Kimpson – District 42
Senator Margie Bright Matthews – District 45
Senator Sandy Senn – District 41
Business Leaders from Around the State Urge the Senate to Pass Roads Plan
This morning the Charleston Metro Chamber along with the Berkeley Chamber, Charleston Regional Development Alliance and Trident CEO Council held a press conference in the Chamber offices urging the Senate to pass road the funding legislation. The Charleston Chamber joined other Chambers throughout the state to host the press conferences today including, York, Greenville, Myrtle Beach and Lexington pressing the Senate for action next week. The Charleston Chamber’s Chairman of the Board of Directors, Patrick Bryant, Representative Katie Arrington, and President and CEO Bryan Derreberry made impassioned appeals to the South Carolina Senate to take action as soon as possible on H.3516.
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Planning Digs Deeper on Workforce Housing
This week the City of Charleston Planning Commission requested further study on proposed changes to workforce housing zoning code. The City has proposed changes to code for MU-1/WF and MU-2/WF zones. These mixed use zone categories allow the most possible density and are essential for large multifamily projects. The proposal would increase the percentage of workforce affordable units from 15% of a project’s total units to 20%, and increase the duration of workforce affordable restriction from 10 to 25 years.
Additionally, the City proposed a fee-in-lieu option for property developers to opt-out of the workforce affordable requirement by making a payment into a special city fund for workforce housing. The city fund could be used to buy, build or rehab workforce housing stock. In the current draft, the per unit fee would be calculated by multiplying gross square footage (excluding parking garages) by $5.10 and dividing by the number of required workforce units. This means a 100,000 square foot project with no workforce affordable restricted units would have to contribute $510,000 to the fund.
Our OneRegion strategy calls for attainable housing options region-wide for all residents. The City’s concept has merit but numbers proposed are not in line with peer cities and may actually stymie the housing options its intended to promote. The Planning Commission acted prudently by taking more time to check the math consider and unintended consequences.
Federal Budget Progress
Members of Congress continue to work on a spending package deal before the current a continuing resolution (CR) runs out April 28. While the spending package most likely won’t include President Trump’s request for more than $1 billion to build a border wall, it could include an additional $15 billion for Dept. of Defense in its overseas contingency operations account. Total defense spending in 2015 was $589.6 billion, which equates to 15.7% of total Federal spending that year according to USAFacts.org.
Passing an appropriations bill that appropriately prioritizes defense is vital for South Carolina. A new report by the South Carolina Military Base Task Force finds that the military has a $24.1 billion economic impact to the state with $10.6 billion of that generated in the Charleston region. To effectively accomplish their missions, our military partners in the state need a stable and predictable budget. Congress failing again to pass a defense appropriations bill could impact force readiness and hamper modernization efforts.
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