13 Feb Business License Reform, Movement on Roads Legislation, and More Government Transparency
Our 5th week of legislative work in 2017 was the busiest yet as committees and subcommittees continue to iron out a wide variety of legislation. The legislative process requires most bills to begin in committee for an in-depth examination prior to being debated and voted upon by the full House body. In fact, hundreds of bills are sent to committees and subcommittees each year, and this week I’ll highlight a few proposals that are moving from committees to the House floor.
Business License Reform
Current state law allows cities to levy business licensing fees on businesses that wish to operate within city limits. For years, municipalities and the business community have sought reforms to this structure to reduce burdens placed upon businesses whilst still ensuring businesses pay their fair share and contribute to the operating funds of cities in which they exist. Advocates say current law creates incentives for businesses to locate outside city borders, effectively avoiding the licensing fees which, in turn, can drive up the cost of doing business. My colleagues from the Horry Delegation have been listening to local municipalities and working hard to negotiate pro-business, home rule-friendly reforms that would address these issues. A bill cleared the House’s LCI Committee this past week and now heads to the House floor for a full vote.
Movement on Roads Legislation
It’s abundantly clear the number one issue in South Carolina today is addressing the unsafe state of our roads and bridges. We currently lead the nation in traffic fatalities – surpassing even large states like California and Texas in annual traffic deaths. This past week a bill aimed at fixing our broken roadways cleared the House budget-writing committee by a vote of 20-0. The legislation would give the Governor control of the South Carolina Department of Transportation, raise the road user fee by 2 pennies per gallon each year for 5 years, and create a Highway Maintenance Trust Fund to ensure 100% of revenues go directly (and only) toward our roads and bridges. The proposal now goes to the House floor for debate and a vote.
More Government Transparency
Finally, a bill that would establish a Freedom of Information Act Office for use by citizens and journalists has cleared a final vote in the House Judiciary Committee. The pro-transparency measure would streamline the current process used by those seeking access to government documents. After all, government operates in the public sector and the laws instituting the FOIA process are intended to ensure the business of the public remains just that – public. This bill enhances those laws and makes compliance easier and cheaper for both government entities and those seeking government documents alike.
Thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please don’t hesitate to contact me.