State Agency Competition
Senators Reese, Knotts, Drummond, Kuhn and Ravenel have introduce Senate Bill 1039, a companion bill to H.4739 introduced last month in the House. These bills would require that any state agency or its foundations obtain permission from the Budget and Control Board in order to produce goods and services to be offered to the private sector. The agency must show that there are not goods and services already available from private businesses in the market and that producing the goods and services enhances the primary mission of the agency. (http://www.scstatehouse.net/sess115_2003-2004/bills/1039.htm)
Health Care Access
Since July of 2002, the Small Business Chamber has been playing an active role with the SC Department of Insurance’s federal grant focusing on the working poor who do not have health insurance. This target group, which contributes to the rising cost of health insurance due to cost shifting, is one part of the overall small group health insurance crisis facing our state. Frank Knapp, president of the Small Business Chamber, served on the Health Insurance Policy Advisory Subcommittee that developed recommendations to address this and similar health care access issues.
Joint Resolutions in the Senate (S.1079) and House (H.4971) have been introduced to create a Commission on Health Care Access to provide direction and leadership to implement the recommendations of the DOI Health Insurance Policy Advisory Committee. The Small Business Chamber supports the formation of this Commission and is urging that the Commission also be empowered 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 five 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 6, 4 p.m., Crown Plaza, 130 Shipyard Drive, Hilton Head Island
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
Deregulation of Bundled Telephone Services
House Bill 4656 would prohibit the Public Service Commission from regulating bundled services offered by local telephone companies. The Small Business Chamber’s experience with opposing increases in telephone and electric rates has taught us the important role the PSC can play as a protector for small businesses. The main concern with H.4656 is that large telephone companies will use their new price setting freedom to drop their rates for bundled services so low as to force their competition out of the market. The Small Business Chamber is thus supporting an amendment to H.4656 that would require the PSC to review a “bundling offer” by a telephone company if a complaint from a competitor or customer alleges an abuse of market position that is detrimental to future competition.
Congratulations Mayor Horton
Bobby Horton, executive director of the SC Medical Equipment Services Association that is a member of the Small Business Chamber, has been elected as mayor of West Columbia. The former West Columbia City Councilman won the special election to fill the term of the late Mayor Mac Rish. We look forward to working with Mayor Horton on local government issues of general concern to small business.