2018 Legislative Agenda

2018 South Carolina Agenda

The Upstate Chamber Coalition will make it easier to do business in our region so our investors may grow and create jobs. We will keep that focus whether we are working on reforming our burdensome tax system, working for more efficient transit, or working to expand our state’s workforce.

The Upstate is one of the nation’s fastest-growing regions, and our job growth is rapidly outpacing our available workforce. Our region needs to look at innovative ways to expand our workforce and educate the next generation of workers. Under this initiative, the Coalition supports:

  • Expanded expungement for one-time, low-level drug charges
  • Workforce Housing initiatives to allow local developers and non-profits to more easily partner on building projects
  • “K-16” education funding that funds students from kindergarten to college,
  • Licensing for 7,000 ready, willing, and able workers in South Carolina who are permitted to work under the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program.

We scored a major victory in 2017 with the passage of comprehensive infrastructure funding legislation. But it is important to recognize that infrastructure is no longer simply lane miles and asphalt. We need to turn our attention to the rest of our infrastructure so we may continue to power our economy.

Commercial Aviation: The General Assembly should create a Statewide Commercial Service Airport funding program to assist our state’s airports in making key capital improvements and to support economic development. We suggest a steady, dedicated stream of funding – such as the tax on rental cars – be allocated to this program.

Mass Transit: Transit is not a social service; it is an economic development and retention imperative. In order to be competitive, it is critical that the General Assembly begin increasing state support for mass transit in our metro areas.

Capital Projects: Our major cities are some of the fastest growing in the nation. The General Assembly must give municipalities the ability to enact capital project sales taxes by referendum – the same power currently given to counties – so they can fund critical infrastructure if the state is unwilling or unable to do so.

The Upstate Chamber Coalition will work at the state and local levels to cut red tape for small business, make our region more economically competitive, and lower the barriers to entry for local entrepreneurs.

High-impact company incentives: The Coalition supports S.404, which will re-vamp our corporate incentive programs to focus on the high-impact companies which do not qualify for traditional incentive packages that focus on costly infrastructure.

Business license fees: The Upstate Chamber Coalition supports streamlining and standardizing the business license fee process, which includes aggressively seeking compromise on which entity manages an online payment system. We oppose any efforts to negatively impact municipal revenue since cities do not have full taxing authority.

Angel Investor Tax Credit Expansion: The General Assembly needs to immediately reauthorize the successful Angel Investor Tax Credit program (H. 4035/S. 588) that encourages South Carolinians to fund our own high-impact start-up companies.

Our state’s unfunded public pension liability is a fiscal crisis that could dramatically increase costs for the business community. Reforms made in 2017 relieved some pressure on the system so that the General Assembly may tackle the system’s systemic problems. The General Assembly must minimize the impact on local government – and private sector tax rates – because of the state’s unrealistic pension expectations. Failure to address this crisis will mean fewer resources to apply to education, infrastructure, and public safety.

South Carolina is consistently rated in the bottom half of states for legal climate. While the General Assembly has undertaken some landmark reforms over the past decade, we need to undertake several reforms to make our legal system fairer to the business community.

Joint and Several: The General Assembly needs to re-institute “joint and several” protections for businesses to reasonably reflect fault in tort actions – not simply penalize small businesses for having deep pockets.

Nuisance lawsuits: We support H. 3653, legislation that will protect existing, permitted manufacturing. this bill will lower legal costs and create more certainty for our manufacturers and homeowners.

Automatic Stay: We support S. 105, legislation that will create a timeline for automatic stays in pending lawsuits against development projects. Currently, there is no timeline, and many states are essentially indefinite.

South Carolina faces a crisis of public trust in our elected officials. The vast majority of our honest, hard-working public servants need to immediately close loopholes and tighten our ethics laws to restore faith in our state government.

2018 Congressional Agenda

Local business interests are increasingly tied to national legislation. The Upstate Chamber Coalition is staying in step with progress by galvanizing collective action on key federal issues. Our focal points for 2017 are listed below.

International trade has powered the Upstate’s economic renaissance. Exports drive more than $12 billion in economic activity and support more than 64,000 Upstate jobs. We support NAFTA and other trade deals that will expand the Upstate’s imports. We also support restoring the Export-Import Bank’s ability to finance major projects and urge the President to nominate nominees who support the Bank.

The burden of Federal Government regulation is a top issue for Upstate employers. We support ongoing administrative review of federal regulations and ensure they are still needed. We also support legislation that would require stays on regulations with major economic impact.

We support funding, and regulatory approval, of the Charleston Port deepening project. We support efforts to pass increased and long-term funding legislation to repair our crumbling infrastructure.

Immigration has long been the lifeblood of the American economy. Today, immigration brings a disproportionate number of entrepreneurs into the economy and is bringing in young workers to offset the large retiring population of Baby boomers. We urge Congress to work on common sense immigration reform that addresses the long-term needs of the American economy.

The last time Congress tackled Tax Reform, Top Gun was a hit in theaters. We have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to reform our burdensome tax system, make it fairer to taxpayers, and ease our extremely high tax rates on small businesses.