2005 Legislative Agenda

2005 Legislative Agenda

The Board of Directors of the Small Business Chamber has approved supporting the following legislative initiatives:

Tort Reform – Create a more fair and less costly civil legal system by changing laws that address venue, joint & several liability, statute of repose and frivolous lawsuits (H.3008) as well as requiring bifurcated trials and the reduction of premiums to reflect savings from tort reform (S.81).

Best Value Procurement – Quantify the principle of best value in the state procurement process by using proven economic impact assessments. The more a vendor proposes to use goods and services from inside the state, the greater the positive economic impact the contract would have on the state. Used in conjunction with price to determine contract awards, this best value approach will lead to more of our tax dollars staying in our state to help our small businesses and workers.

Technical College Tuition Assistance – Establish a guaranteed 75% funding of the Lottery Tuition Assistance program for Technical College and Two-year institution students. This would provide these students with equitable treatment as those receiving HOPE, LIFE and Palmetto Fellows Scholarships and will encourage more students to get the technical training needed by our small businesses.

Workers Comp Insurance – Stabilize and reduce Workers Comp premiums through more efficient and faster disposition of claims (upgrade computer system and restore FTE’s), better oversight of Workers Comp classifications (regulatory creation of SC Workers Comp Advisory Board), fighting fraud (establishing Fraud Unit in Attorney General’s Office) and strengthening the law to assure that businesses do not shift responsibility for their claims to other businesses. Total budget requirements — $4 million one time capital cost and $1 million annual cost. Approximately $13 million in Workers Comp Premium fees are paid by businesses each year. About $10 million of these funds now go into the general fund.

Small Business Income Tax Reduction – Phase in a reduced state income tax rate on small businesses (proprietors, partnerships, LLC’s and S-Corps) from 7% to 5%, the rate now paid by C-Corps. The cost projection to the state budget when fully implemented is $76 million.

Small Group Health Insurance – Empower small businesses to join together to acquire group health insurance and be afforded the advantages of better control of premiums due to larger numbers of policyholders. Out of necessity the state should establish the vehicle for creating this small business purchasing or self-insured pool. This vehicle would be separate from the state employee health plan and all premiums and expenses would be paid by the small business participants.

Affirmative Approval of Regulations – Require that all promulgated regulations from state agencies be affirmatively approved by the Legislature before becoming law (H.3141).

Economic Development – Promote both loans to and investment in small businesses through the creation of Capital Access Program and investment tax credits (H.3006). Expand existing job tax credits to small businesses of 50 or fewer employees in distressed and least developed counties so that adding from one to five new full-time workers will qualify these businesses for the tax credits.

Environmental Crimes – Give subpoena power to the State Grand Jury to investigate environmental crimes. These crimes often destroy the property value of small businesses and cost tax dollars for clean up yet are very difficult to prosecute under the current law (S.22 and H.3189).

Medical Equipment Sales Tax Exemption – Small businesses that sell durable medical equipment reimbursed through Medicare and Medicaid are prohibited by federal and state law from adding sales tax to the purchase yet must pay the sales tax to the state. Phasing in an exemption for these Medicare/Medicaid purchases from state sales tax would cost $4.5 million a year when fully implemented.

Check Cashing – Amend the state’s stringent check cashing laws to exempt small businesses such as convenience stores and groceries that aren’t primarily in the business of cashing payroll checks but do so for the convenience of their customers.

State Agency Competition In Private Sector – Require legislative approval of state agency activities that compete in the private sector with businesses.