Charleston Metro Chamber Legislative Priorities Move Forward

Staff Report From Charleston CEO

Monday, March 16th, 2020

Since the Senate finished debate on the education reform bill last week, the log jam of bills on the Senate calendar began to move, including a couple of the Chamber’s priority bills.

This week, a Senate Finance subcommittee gave a favorable report to the Business License Fee Reform bill. This is a big step that keeps up momentum for this critical legislative priority. The reform bill would create a single web portal, uniform process and set renewal date for business licenses. The standardized process will dramatically minimize administrative and compliance burden on any enterprise that does business in multiple jurisdictions. We are hopeful for a full committee meeting before the Senate takes up the budget.

On Tuesday, the Affordable Housing Tax Credit bill (H.3998) received third reading in the Senate on a 44-0 unanimous vote. The legislation creates a state tax credit that mirrors the federal tax credit for development of workforce housing. While not a silver bullet to our housing shortage, it will add another finance tool to make more workforce affordable housing projects a reality. The amended bill now moves back to the House. We will urge the House to concur with the Senate amendments once they return from furlough in two weeks.
Meanwhile in the House, deliberations began Monday on the 2020-2021 state budget. Here are a couple of highlights:

Nearly $350 million for education that will:

Freeze college tuition

Expand 4K in rural areas

Increase support for school resource officers and mental health counselors

$100 million to accelerate SCDOT’s pavement program, including:

$77 million for SCDOT to use on secondary roads

$23 million to be split among county transportation committees

$120 million for permanent tax relief by lowering the income tax rate from 7% to 6.8%

$120 million for an income tax credit (However Governor McMaster asked the General Assembly to allocate $45 million of this money to combat COVID-19)

A $3,000 across the board pay raise for teachers

A 2% state employee pay raise

The House finished their work on Wednesday and now the budget moves to the Senate Finance Committee where they will begin their work.