February 27, 2015
From Staff Reports
Frank Knapp South Carolina’s Small Business Chamber of Commerce marks its 15th anniversary this month with nod to its past successes and a glance at its plateful of current efforts.
Frank Knapp Jr., SCSBCC co-founder, said the 5000-plus member organization’s priorities include raising the federal minimum wage to $10.10 per hour, closing the health insurance coverage gap for the state’s 194,000 lowincome citizens, and drawing attention to the threat of future sea level rise due to climate change.
Apropos the minimum wage, Knapp said he takes heart from Walmart’s announcement it will spend $1 billion this year to give raises to half-a-million workers. “This is an amazing turnabout for a retailer who has long said ‘We can’t afford to do it,’” said Knapp, who also serves as SCSBCC’s president and CEO.
Business experts say the Walmart move is likely to influence other retailers to follow suit. South Carolina has no minimum, so workers are covered by the federal minimum wage.
The SCSBCC, together with other organizations, has long advocated that South Carolina accept $4.7 million dollars in federal assistance available federal dollars to help insure lowincome citizens.
Every day South Carolina is refusing $4.7 million dollars in federal assistance that would close the health insurance coverage gap for our people and small businesses. “This is important because it makes sure everybody has some form of insurance,” Knapp said.
So far, South Carolina is among those states refusing the federal assistance through the federal Affordable Care Act. Gov. Nikki Haley vowed last year not to allow an expansion and has stood firm behind her veto threat.
“And while it looks like it might not happen in South Carolina, we have a number of other states with Republican governors who are negotiating with the Obama administration to close their own coverage gap with these federal dollars. For obviously partisan political reasons, we are not doing something that would help our people and our economy,” Knapp said.
Another SCSBCC concern is the threat to the state’s coastline from climate related sea rise. “It is imperative that our coastal communities facing that threat begin planning for resiliency,” Knapp said. “Beaufort has already created a community-based sea level rise task force,” he said. “Charleston, where even a modest sea level rise could have disastrous results, is tuned in to the chamber’s efforts,” he said.
On the SCSBCC’s 15th anniversary, Knapp also released a list of some of the organization’s “very significant victories for small businesses,” since 2000.
Among them, the group has successfully advocated for:
- Reducing the state income tax on small business profits from 7 percent to 5 percent (later reduced to 3 percent).
- Re-regulation of the workers’ compensation ratemaking formula.
- Tax credits for rural small businesses that create jobs.
- Tax credits for businesses to train registered apprentices.
- Tort reform to discourage frivolous lawsuits and protect small business access to the courts to fight unfair trade practices.