2017 State Legislative Agenda (as of 3-05-17)

2017 State Legislative Agenda (as of 3-05-17)

Maximize Federal Medicaid Dollars to Grow Economy— The prevailing winds in Washington are that Medicaid, which provides health insurance to low income citizens, will be converted to block grants to states to be administered with few federal rules. At issue then is how much will each state receive. If it is based on how many federal dollars each state is receiving now, South Carolina loses.  States like Arkansas, that has expanded Medicaid with a private option program, would receive far more dollars that South Carolina even though our state has similar demographics.  That is unfair and our economy will be hurt.  The 31 states that have expanded Medicaid have billions of additional dollars flowing into their healthcare systems creating jobs, stabilizing rural hospitals and boosting local economies.  Their low income citizens have affordable health insurance and are healthier and more productive workers for small businesses.  The General Assembly needs to take action to maximize future Medicaid dollars by passing legislation quickly to expand Medicaid before the program is changed and use a private option as does Arkansas. (H.3115)

Protect Consumers from Nuclear Plant Cost Overruns—The SCE&G nuclear plants construction project in Fairfield County has clearly demonstrated the law (Base Load Review Act) permitting a utility company to increase rates to pay for the construction financing costs as the power plants are being built needs to be amended. SCE&G’s project has been almost automatically approved for additional costs and time delays since 2009 resulting in the plants being 22% over budget and three years behind schedule.  Amending the Base Load Review Act is essential to prevent this from happening in any future nuclear plant construction. (To Be Filed)

Recognize First Responder Injuries—The state workers’ compensation laws need to recognize post-traumatic stress disorder when it occurs with first responders. 70% of firefighters are volunteers and mostly work for small businesses.  When they or our paid first responders develop post-traumatic stress disorder from a direct involvement in a traumatic event, they must use the health insurance benefits of their employer, if they have group health.  Plus, the private employer of first responders suffers if the employee becomes less productive due to not receiving proper health services after being personally injured as a volunteer. (S.174, S.164, H.3347)

Tax Credits for Hiring Ex-Offenders—Small businesses hold the key to giving workers who have been incarcerated for at least 90 days a second chance to earn a living, support families and pay taxes. A $5,000 tax credit for employing such an individual for a year will help the business’s bottom line while helping to save taxes for social programs, reduce recidivism and stabilize communities. (H.3101)

Financing and Encouraging Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency—Financing is often a problem for owners of commercial property, especially smaller properties, who want to reduce their reliance on utility provided energy by installing clean energy equipment or upgrading their facilities for energy efficiency. Local governments should be permitted to establish districts in which commercial property owners could access lower cost financing from revenue bonds or financial institutions secured by special assessments to the commercial property. Also, to encourage the investment of solar for both residents and commercial buildings, the value of the installation should be totally exempt for residential and 80% exempt for commercial for local property taxes. (H.3304, S.44, H.3079)

Keep More State Procurement Dollars in South Carolina—The state procurement code has several provisions to help resident vendors to compete against nonresident vendors for state contracts. State procurement officers should also provide resident bidders for a contract the opportunity to match the lowest nonresident bid and thus be able to receive the contract. (S.71)

Encourage Competition in Health Insurance Marketplace—To really have competition between health insurance companies you have to stop allowing the dominant carrier in the state from contractually forcing healthcare providers to charge competitors higher fees.  This process is called the “most favored nation” clause in a contract. If one health insurance company is guaranteed to have the lowest reimbursement rates for doctors and hospitals, that company has lower costs and thus can be more competitive in premiums charged.  But that company also has no incentive to drive down healthcare costs.  In fact, it has an incentive to allow healthcare costs to increase thus enabling it to make more profit through higher premiums.  As a result the other healthcare companies are forced to have higher costs and thus less competitive premiums.  With no market-driven containment on healthcare costs, premiums for all health insurance companies increase. (S.235)

Exempting Longshoremen From State Workers’ Comp Law—Maritime businesses are seeking to bar workers covered under the Longshore and Harbor Workers’ Compensation Act from filing a workers’ compensation claim under the state workers’ compensation law. Carving out exceptions to our state laws will challenge the successful workers’ compensation system that has protected small businesses from tort liability for claims by injured employees.  It would potentially also increase the cost of the Uninsured Employers Fund paid by every other business in the state with a workers’ compensation policy.  The South Carolina Small Business Chamber has long opposed such a bill. (S.349).