Communique from the SC House GOP Caucus
We tee’d off Master’s weekend and the beginning of our furlough week with a special visit from the Carolina Panthers football team. Head Coach Ron Rivera visited the State House along with players, executives, and their beloved mascot Sir Purr. The welcomed visit comes as legislation is moving through the Senate to provide professional sports teams the same incentives the state gives other companies when they bring an attractive number of employees and economic benefits to the state.
The legislation has already passed the House and following approval in the Senate will have the potential to bring hundreds of millions of dollars into South Carolina through jobs and infrastructure.
Please note that I joined 24 other Representatives who voted against this legislation that gives the Carolina Panthers tax breaks of approximately $7.5 million a year for the next 15 years. Note that the party breakdown on the 25 who voted against the subsidy was 19 Republican and 6 Democrat.
Education Reform Update
Earlier this year the House passed a comprehensive education reform bill that includes raising teacher pay, decreasing statewide testing, consolidating small school districts, and creating a committee that will monitor the education system from pre-K to post-graduation. The bill was sent to the Senate where it will go through the same committee process and public hearing debates. Now, parts of the bill have passed the full Senate Education Committee and will be debated next week during the Senate’s budget process.
We are hopeful the Senate will pass an education reform package that not only gives teachers a much-needed pay raise but also fixes some of the deep-rooted problems that plague our current education system. We cannot stall another year, we need to start making steps in the right direction.
FACT: South Carolina is 24th in the nation for funding education but last in test scores and college readiness.
Uncovering Dark Money
The House subcommittee on Constitutional Laws gave favorable reports on two “sunshine” bills that would shed more light onto political ads paid for by secretive groups and their anonymous donors. H. 3045 and H. 4203 would require independent expenditure committees (2 or more individuals who spend $500 or more to engage in election communications) that spend on political mailers, radio ads, or television commercials to register (like every candidate is required to do) with the State Ethics Commission. They would also need to disclose how much they spent and any donors who contributed more than $1,000.
Business Tax License Fees
Legislation to reform the business license tax system was filed in the House to help small businesses by lowering the costly business tax. The tax has risen 50% in recent years along with burdensome compliance issues that make the whole process time consuming. H. 4431 could help bring uniformity to the system statewide and help South Carolina compete economically with neighboring states.
Offshore Drilling and Seismic Testing
Two competing bills passed favorably out of Agriculture subcommittee this week, one for and one against, seismic testing and offshore drilling off the South Carolina coast. H. 3087 would make it difficult for oil companies to search and drill for oil along the South Carolina coast. On the contrary, the other bill that passed makes it easier for companies to drill for oil and gas. This will leave the debate up to the full House and keep both pieces of legislation moving.
Ridesharing Safety Makes Strides
The House voted overwhelmingly, 99-1, to pass the Samantha Josephson Ridesharing Safety Act. The bill requires Uber and other ride-booking companies to put an illuminated sign in their window in hopes that could help connect riders to the correct drivers. The bill seeks to increase the distance the rider can start the verification process, but still encourages riders to check to make sure the license plate and car match with the app. North Carolina legislators filed an identical Uber Safety Bill in their State House this week.