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From the Dome to Your Home


The House of Representatives and the Senate met in regular session this week. Two business license bills received subcommittee and full committee action, while the Senate debated bills on the calendar and unveiled the portrait of President Pro Tempore Senator Hugh Leatherman.

Business license bills pass out of committee
For two years, the Municipal Association has been working with business interests to tackle the complexities of business licensing.
 
On Wednesday, the Executive Subcommittee of the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee heard testimony on two bills related to business licensing, H3650 and H3651. On Thursday, both bills passed the full committee. Taken together, the bills adopt the standardization measures discussed by the cities, through their Association, and business stakeholders. However, the bills would also 

  1. grant exemptions to certain business types forcing city officials to choose between increasing business license rates for all other businesses or reducing city services.  
  2. strip the authority of cities and towns to manage business licensing, and
  3. move the insurance and telecommunication collection programs from the Municipal Association, governed by city officials, to a state agency.

Bottom line…both of these bills are bad for cities and bad for the majority of small businesses due to the inequities created by the special tax exemptions.

Miriam Hair and two business license professionals testified before the subcommittee. Miriam gave many examples of how the bill picks winners and losers by extending tax exemptions to some businesses thereby creating inequities among all businesses. She also gave specific city examples of the significant rate increases required to pay for the tax exemptions.  

During both the subcommittee and committee debate, House LCI Committee Chairman Rep. Bill Sandifer (R – Seneca) stated that these bills are revenue neutral to cities because city officials can just raise rates to make up for the shortfall.

These bills may be on the House floor as early as next week for debate. Please call your House member and urge them to vote no on these bills that go far beyond the goal of standardizing the business licensing process.

As you talk to your legislators about this bill, please share any feedback with Casey Fields (cfields@masc.sc) at 803.933.1256. For questions on these bills, contact Miriam Hair (mhair@masc.sc) at 803.933.1204 or Melissa Carter (mcarter@masc.sc) at 803.933.1251.
 
Joint Committee on Pension Systems Review proposes retirement fix
The Senate (S394) and House (H3722) introduced companion bills to pay down the unfunded liability of the state retirement system and reduce the assumed annual rate of return from 7.5 percent to 7.25 percent.

To reach these goals, these bills increase the employer contribution rate for SCRS and PORS by 2 percent effective July 1. This increases the employer contribution 1 percent each year through 2023 ultimately producing an employer rate of 18.56 for SCRS and 21.24 for PORS. The bill also places a cap of 9 percent on the employee contribution rate effective July 1. There is no reduction in cost of living adjustments for retirees.

The bills also make a number of administrative changes to the S.C. Public Employment Benefits Authority. For questions on these bills, contact Melissa Carter (mcarter@masc.sc) at 803.933.1251.
 
Weekly Bill Introductions
Access bills that were introduced this week and bills that received action from a subcommittee or committee through our legislative tracking system complete with short summaries. Visit the legislative tracking system to see and comment on all bills pending in the House and Senate.

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Weekly legislative action