The legislative session is more than half over and your Small Business Chamber has been very busy. This e-newsletter updates you on our legislative agenda and introduces you to a new issue. There is also information on efforts to prepare high schools students with meaningful careers and news on developments regarding the number one issue for small businesses.
The Small Business Chamber has been actively supporting or opposing the following bills and issues, which have seen movement this year. Thanks to all those who have responded to our e-mail Action Alerts.
Support Technical College Tuition Assistance—This week, a Senate/House conference committee began meeting to try to reach a compromise on how lottery revenue will be used. The Small Business Chamber supports the Senate plan, which allocates $48.2 for technical college tuition assistance to help South Carolinians develop the skilled-training small businesses need.
Oppose Mandatory Employee Wage Garnishment—The Small Business Chamber is pleased to report that Senate Bill 154, which would allow the court to order an employer to garnish the wages of a worker for the employee’s commercial debts, appears to have been successfully stopped in a House subcommittee.
Support Property Rights—The Small Business Chamber has worked with a coalition of business organizations to support S.528. This bill would allow for faster resolution to property rights disputes between private entities and government. It is currently in the Senate Judiciary Committee.
Support Fair Conservation Efforts—The SC Conservation Bank, which the Small Business Chamber endorsed, will become a reality. The Bank, an entity supported with existing fees, would award grants for the purchase (from willing landowners only) of property deemed worthy of conservation.
Support Main Street Development—The Historic Rehabilitation Incentives Act has passed the legislature with the support of the Small Business Chamber. The state will now give tax incentives for rehabilitation of historic buildings, which will translate into an economic stimulus effort for local small businesses.
Support Increase in Bad-Check Fee—House Bill 3286 has made it through the House and is now on the Senate calendar. The Small Business Chamber is working to ensure the passage of this bill, which would increase the fee businesses could collect for bad checks of $100 or less from $25 to $30.
Oppose Over Zealous DHEC Regulations—While not a proponent of large hog farms, the Small Business Chamber joined agribusiness organizations in opposing DHEC’s original regulations on the matter both because DHEC usurped the authority of the General Assembly and the regulations unnecessarily jeopardized agribusiness in general. After considerable negotiations, the new regulations are much more acceptable and are ready for action by the legislature.
Support Small Business One-Stop—The Small Business Chamber continues to work with state agencies and others to establish a SC Business-One-Stop, which would create an internet web site from which to obtain all regulatory information on starting any type of business in the state.
Chamber To Take On Predatory Gas Pricing
The Small Business Chamber will be supporting better enforcement of predatory gas pricing regulations by the SC Department of Consumer Affairs. An original mission of the Chamber was to ensure that small businesses were treated fairly in the regulatory process. Ironically, the issue of predatory gas pricing is not one of uneven enforcement; it’s one of no enforcement that in turn favors big business.
The concern is that big businesses, like Wal Mart, are selling gas below cost more than the 14 days a year allowed by law. This continuous “loss leader” marketing by big business with deep pockets has a negative effect on more than the small businesses that sell gasoline. Any small business, which sells products offered by the big business (ex. clothing, hardware, etc), will lose customers as a result of unfair gas pricing.
The Small Business Chamber will support efforts by the SC Petroleum Marketers Association and the SC Association of Convenience Stores to have the state’s predatory gas pricing laws enforced and the complaint process simplified.
Developing Skilled Workers
The Small Business Chamber has joined the Registered Apprenticeship Roundtable of South Carolina. The mission of this Roundtable is to promote, develop and implement Registered Apprenticeship training opportunities for our youth to develop the highly skilled workers our business community needs. A Registered Apprenticeship is a proven training strategy that combines on-the-job training with related classroom instruction.
Surrounding Southern states have thousands of active apprentices: NC (8,000), GA (6,000), FL (12,000) and TN (10,000). South Carolina has only 864 active apprentices. We are clearly not utilizing an effective tool to seamlessly transition students into rewarding careers by infusing them with disciplines that stay with them their entire lives.
Registered Apprenticeships are good for small businesses. They result in well-trained employees, less turnover and better employer-employee relations. Tax incentives are also available for Registered Apprenticeship Programs.
If you would like to find out more about how a Registered Apprenticeship can benefit your business, contact the Small Business Chamber at (803) 252-5733 firstname.lastname@example.org.
Small Group Health Insurance Grant Submitted
Finding a solution to the health insurance crisis for small businesses has long been a top priority for the Small Business Chamber. Now, the SC Department of Insurance has submitted a grant application to the US Department of Health & Human Services for data collection and analysis, which will enable public policy development regarding small group health insurance availability and affordability. The Small Business Chamber participated in the development of the grant application and will both assist in the data collection and serve on an advisory committee for the project. A July start-up date is anticipated if the grant is awarded.
Welcome 2 New Associations as Members
The Small Business Chamber is pleased to welcome the SC Association of Realtors and the Mechanical Contractors Association of SC as members. These fine organizations join 12 other trade associations in supporting our Chamber. Below is a list of trade association members:
Home Builders Association of SC
Mechanical Contractors Association of SC
SC Association of Children’s Homes & Family Services
SC Association of Convenience Stores
SC Association of Heating & Air Conditioning Contractors
SC Association of Non Profit Homes for the Aging
SC Association of Realtors
SC Glass Association
SC Health Care Association
SC Medical Equipment Services Association
SC Petroleum Marketers Association
SC Poultry Federation
SC Primary Health Care Association
SC Trial Lawyers Association
Free Business Consultation:
Small Business Development Center (USC)–803-777-5118
SC Minority Business Development Center–803-779-5905
Service Corps of Retired Executives (SCORE)–800-827-5722
Government Loan Programs:
US Small Business Administration–803-765-5339
Carolina Capital Investment Corporation–803-461-3801