Legislative Action Alert & Update

Legislative Action Alert & Update

Unregulated Telecommunication Monopolies Not Good For Small Businesses

The Public Service Commission and The SC Small Business Chamber of Commerce fear the return of un-regulated telecommunication monopolies if the Senate passes House Bill 4656 without amendments. The bill would allow local telephone companies to offer bundled services (i.e. business line plus voice mail, call waiting, etc.) without going to the PSC for approval of rates as they do now. Companies like BellSouth, Sprint and others argue that they need this flexibility to adjust prices quickly to be competitive.

What the large telephone companies with their great financial strength don’t tell you is that this bill would allow them to temporarily offer bundled services so low that their competition would be driven out and new competition discouraged. With no competition, most small businesses will have no other options but to put up with the rates and services of telecommunication monopolies.

A Senate subcommittee will take up H.4656 this Tuesday (4/13) at 10:30 a.m. Please contact the three Senators listed below immediately and ask them to support amendments being offered by the Public Service Commission to protect small businesses from telecommunication monopolies. The PSC should be allowed to hear complaints about telephone companies abusing their market position to destroy competition.

Senators e-mail Senate Phone Business Phone

Thomas Moore TLM@scsenate.org (803)212-6156 (803)593-4007
Greg Gregory SFG@scsenate.org (803)212-6330 (803)283-8481
Robert Waldrep SAG@scsenate.org (803)212-6230 (864)224-6341

$40 Million Sought For Tech Tuition Program

The Small Business Chamber is supporting a $40 million budget for the Technical College Lottery Tuition Assistance program. In the fall of 2003, this highly successful, lottery funded program paid approximately 75% of the tuition for 21,097 South Carolinians attending our technical colleges to prepare them with the skills our small businesses need. That is a 48% increase over the previous fall semester. To maintain this 75% tuition assistance level, $40 million in lottery funds are needed this year. The Senate Finance Committee is now starting to review this request and other budget matters.

Please contact Senate Finance Committee Chairman, Hugh Leatherman, and ask for his and his committee’s support for $40 million for the Technical College Lottery Tuition Assistance program. Tell him that small businesses need this effort to develop a well-trained workforce.

Hugh Leatherman SFI@scsenate.org (803)212-6640

LEGISLATIVE UPDATE

Affirmative Approval of Regulations

House Bill 3082, which would require a legislative vote to approve all regulations, is still set for Special Order in the Senate. Action on the bill has been delayed due to debate on the seat belt bill. There is still time for you to contact your Senator and ask him or her to support H.3082. You can read more about this issue in a column written for The State newspaper by Frank Knapp, president of the Small Business Chamber, at the following website:

http://www.thestate.com/mld/thestate/news/columnists/8366614.htm

Economic Impact Statements on Regulations

The Small Business Chamber is supporting S.758/H.4130, which would establish a Small Business Regulatory Review Committee to look at all promulgated regulations. The Committee would be able to request an economic impact statement to show the effect of compliance on small businesses. This information would then be used by the state agency for possible modifications and by the legislature in their decision to approve the regulation. S.758 is on the Senate calendar and H.4130 is in the House Judiciary Committee.

Health Care Access

The House Joint Resolution (H.4971) to create a Commission on Health Care Access is now on the House Calendar. The Commission would be responsible for providing direction and leadership to implement the recommendations of the DOI Health Insurance Policy Advisory Committee. The Small Business Chamber was successful in amending the original Resolution to empower the Commission to address other small group health insurance issues such as enabling small businesses to aggregate together for the purpose of using their numbers to obtain lower group health insurance premiums.

The Department of Insurance will be holding business forums around the state to present the data and recommendations of the Health Insurance Policy Advisory Committee. Please try to attend the forum closest to you.

April 13, 5 p.m., Wall Auditorium, Coastal Carolina, Conway
April 28, 8:30 a.m., Embassy Suites, North Charleston
May 13, 4 p.m., Clarion Town House Hotel, 1615 Gervais St., Columbia