The South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce
Last year the South Carolina Small Business Chamber of Commerce (SCSBCC) was very active in the state advocating for the interests of our state’s small businesses. The advocacy was both legislative and non-legislative.
Fighting to keep utility rates low
In March, Duke Energy filed for a giant electric rate hike of 14% for small businesses. The SCSBCC intervened in the case before the SC Public Service Commission and negotiated a 75% reduction in the proposed increase saving small businesses about $13.5 million on their electric bills.
Protecting our small business coastal tourism economy
Sea levels are projected to rise by between 3 and 6 feet by the end of this century due to climate change caused by carbon pollution. Thus the future of state’s small business coastal economy is in danger of disappearing. In May the SCSBCC began a successful effort (www.scbars.org) to both educate small business owners and tourists about this threat and encouraging actions to support transitioning the to a clean energy economy. Phase 2 of this project will start in January 2014.
Making more capital available for small businesses and nonprofits
Continuing an effort begun in 2010 to address the lack of capital for small businesses, the SCSBCC partnered with the American Sustainable Business Council and Mission Markets to create an online marketplace for small businesses and non-profits to seek donations and investments for business projects. SCcrowdfund.com will launch in January, 2014.
2013 was the first year of a two-year legislative session for the South Carolina General Assembly. Therefore the final success of the SCSBCC legislative agenda will be determined in 2014.
Protecting the integrity of the Workers’ Compensation Insurance system
The SCSBCC has a very successful track record of opposing workers’ compensation insurance rate hikes and supporting legislation to better regulate insurance carriers resulting in reduced premiums. In 2013, the SCSBCC opposed special interest legislation that would benefit just a few larger Charleston businesses and potentially increasing workers’ compensation system costs on all small businesses. This legislation passed the House and is in the Senate.
Stabilizing health insurance costs for small businesses
The cost of medical care for the uninsured is shifted to the insured, accounting for about $1000 a year in every family healthcare plan. Expanding Medicaid as a solution for reducing this cost shifting to stabilize small business health insurance premiums is a top SCSBCC legislative priority. The Legislature did not expand Medicaid in 2013 but the effort continues in 2014.
Increasing health insurance competition
Health insurance companies are legally allowed to contractually require healthcare providers to charge other insurance companies more for the same services. This anti-competitive process is called a most favored nation clause. The SCSBCC supported legislation to make these clauses illegal. The bill has not made it out of a Senate committee due to the influence of Blue Cross-Blue Shield.
Making solar energy more affordable for consumers
The biggest obstacle for consumers, including small businesses, to use solar panels to cut their utility bills is the upfront cost of the panels. The SCSBCC supported legislation to make it legal for third parties to purchase and install solar panels on homes and buildings and sell the electricity to the occupant. This bill has not made it out of a Senate committee due to the influence of the state’s utilities.
The SCSBCC supported the Microenterprise Development Act which would require the state to assist in capital development for nonprofit small business lenders. This bill was passed by the House and is now in the Senate.