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SC chamber grades state lawmakers

Author: Will Whitson

Source: WIS News 10

September 22, 2014

COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - State lawmakers are getting a report card from one pro-business group in the Palmetto State and some lawmakers need to head back to class.

The South Carolina Chamber had its eye on five big pro-business issues in the legislature this year but only one actually made it out of the state house and into law.

Going into the 2015 session, chamber leaders say some big business decisions are still hanging in the balance.

"A lot of the bills that we favored started in the House, got to the Senate, and then died on the Senate calendar," said Otis Rawl, president of the SC Chamber of Commerce.

Those bills included environmental bills like Pollution Control Act reform, road and infrastructure funding, and a continuing veto on the state's Certificate of Need program which would require local health care businesses to apply for permits before offering some medical treatments.

"Two years ago, Governor Haley vetoed it for about $1.4 million," Rawl said.

Without that program in place, Rawl said many local businesses created new healthcare jobs and expanded their operations but a state Supreme Court decision ruled the Certificate of Need program should continue.

Despite the Chamber's push to look at the issue legislators didn't vote on it.

"Right now we're hanging out there with over 100 companies who don't know what to do," Rawl said.

The Chamber's scorecard also points out the general assembly did little to address road and infrastructure problems in the state but there could be a silver lining for the issue in 2015.

House leaders have already committed to tackling road problems in the next session.

"While there are many issues that need to be addressed in our state, none, and I mean none are more pressing than fixing our state roads," said Speaker Pro Tem Jay Lucas in September.

One chamber backed issue did make it into law this year- expanded four year old kindergarten and reading programs.

Rawl points out better education programs mean a more competitive workforce after graduation.

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