SC Chamber Releases Recovery Plan for SC Businesses, Governor McMaster Allows More SC Businesses to Reopen, General Assembly Passes Continuing Resolution

 

Email to COVID-19 Mailing List: May 12th

Today's COVID-19 business information compiled by your SC Chamber Team includes: SC Chamber Releases Recovery Plan for SC Businesses, Governor McMaster Allows More SC Businesses to Reopen, General Assembly Passes Continuing Resolution and Other Chamber Priorities.

ICYMI: The SC Chamber has partnered with FUEL to bring you the webinar Brand Positioning in a Crisis, tomorrow May 13th.


1. SC Chamber Releases Recovery Plan for SC Businesses

Today the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce (SC Chamber) released a full reopening and recovery plan for businesses in the Palmetto State. Results of the Chamber's COVID-19 business survey, released last week, were vital in shaping the development of "Relief and Recovery Agenda for SC Businesses." Additionally, the SC Chamber's policy committees provided input, with the members representing businesses from all sizes and sectors.

The recommendations in the plan fall into four major categories:

  • Workplace Safety. Policymakers should increase access to rapid-results COVID-19 testing and develop measures to improve the PPE supply to build confidence in consumers and limit workplace spread.
  • Economic Relief and Recovery. Policymakers should work to relieve financial hardship on businesses by:
    • Ensure that any layoffs resulting from COVID-19 for the entirety of 2020 will not affect a business's experience rating for unemployment insurance
    • Mitigate impacts on businesses from Unemployment Trust Fund insolvency
    • Pass the Business License Tax Reform Act (H.4431)
    • Allow for e-notarization for business transactions
    • Change nexus requirements
    • Extend economic development tax credits
    • Pass tax conformity
  • Workforce and Education. South Carolina's education and workforce pipeline must adapt to current conditions and make changes that will add resiliency to the system long-term should similar challenges arise in the future. Policymakers should develop measures to increase broadband access and adoption, provide e-Learning capabilities to more students, emphasize reskilling and retraining for the unemployed population, and allow for flexible and innovative education delivery methods.
  • Liability Protection. Every industry – from small businesses to healthcare providers – undertakes some risks by opening their doors. These risks are primarily due to ever-evolving information about the coronavirus and changing federal and state safety guidance. Policymakers should pass legislation to provide a safe harbor for good actors that are following the latest safety guidance to help businesses reopen and remain open. This legislation should also cover exposure liability and protect manufacturers ramping up or starting the production of PPE to meet increasing demands.

Click here to read statements from SC Chamber leadership and here to review the entire plan.


2. Governor McMaster Allows More SC Businesses to Reopen

In a press conference yesterday, Governor McMaster announced that some categories of businesses that had previously been required to close, mainly "close-contact providers," will be allowed to reopen next week in a limited capacity.

Businesses allowed to reopen next week on May 18th include:

  • Gyms
  • Barber Shops
  • Hair Salons
  • Waxing Salons
  • Threading Salons
  • Nail Salons and Spas
  • Body-Art Facilities and Tattoo Services
  • Tanning Salons
  • Massage Therapy Establishments
  • Pools

The Governor announced that the accelerateSC "Response" subcommittee had developed general guidelines for close contact service providers, along with more specific guidance for cosmetology establishmentsgyms and fitness centers, and public or commercial pools based on recommendations from the SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC),

These guidelines (none of them mandatory) include:

  • Guidance on social distancing within businesses, including recommended capacity requirements
  • Additional cleaning and sanitizing guidelines for equipment, tables, chairs, etc.
  • Additional guidance on health checks for employees
  • Further guidance on training for employees

Finally, Governor McMaster also laid out plans for state employees beginning to return to work throughout the next month and efforts to increase contact tracing through DHEC.


3. General Assembly Passes Continuing Resolution

Continuing Resolution (H.3411): Extends funding for state government at current fiscal year levels until the General Assembly can return to adopt a new budget. This resolution is needed when the legislature is unlikely to be able to pass a new state budget before the fiscal year ends on June 30th. As passed today, the continuing resolution does the following:

  • Allow provisos from last year's budget to remain in effect
  • Therefore, the proviso that prohibits private, 3rd party entities from collecting or assessing business license taxes (Proviso 109.14) will remain in place.
  • Allocates $25 million to the Medical University of South Carolina (MUSC) to work with DHEC and the SC Hospital Association to create and implement a statewide testing plan within the next ten days.
  • Allocates $15 million for the June 9th primary to provide materials for poll workers and voting sites to keep the public safe amid COVID-19. 
  • It allows the Governor to direct the expenditure of funds from the COVID-19 Response Reserve Account for expenses necessary and appropriate for the health, safety, and welfare of the public in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Directs the Department of Administration to procure grant management services for some of the federal COVID-19 relief funds and authorizes state agencies to receive portions of federal COVID-19 relief funds. South Carolina has received $1.9 billion in federal COVID-19 relief funds. 

We expect the General Assembly to return in the fall to pass a 2020-2021 budget, which reflects the updated Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) numbers.

The Sine Die Resolution (S.1194): extends the legislative session past the regular date that legislative work ends (May 14th, 2020). The Senate passed this bill three weeks ago, and the House passed it today. The Sine Die Resolution specifies that the General Assembly will next meet in Columbia on September 15th and may debate the following bills:

  • The State Budget (H.5201)
  • Any bills relating to COVID-19
  • Bills that have passed one body, including:
    • Business License Tax Reform (H.4431)
    • E-notoratizion Bill (S.486)
    • Comprehensive Education Reform (S.419/H.3759)
    • State Longitudinal Data System (H.3757)

Affordable Workforce and Senior Housing (H.3998): The House concurred with Senate amendments on the Affordable Workforce and Senior Housing Bill, sending it to the Governor's desk today. Construction developers are standing ready to build much-needed affordable housing, and this bill will help them begin or complete projects right away. We included H.3998 as a priority in the SC Chamber's Relief and Recovery Agenda for SC Businesses, released today.

Angel Investors (S.76): The General Assembly amended and passed S.76, which initially dealt with tax credits for manufactured homes, to include the reauthorization of the Angel Investor Tax Credit. This tax credit provides an incentive to give needed funding to start-up companies in South Carolina that have a proven track record of success. Reauthorizing the Angel Investor Tax Credit is an integral part of the Chamber's Relief and Recovery Plan for SC Businesses. It now heads to the Governor's desk.

State of Emergency Added as Reason to Request Absentee Ballot (S.635): This bill was amended in the House today to allow an officially declared State of Emergency to be added as a reason to request an absentee ballot within 45 days of the declaration. This specific portion of the law, as passed by the General Assembly today, will sunset on July 1st. The bill was amended via free conference powers and the report was accepted today by both bodies. It now goes to the Governor’s desk.

Senate and House Special Reopening Committees Meet: Yesterday, the House COVID-19 Small Business Regulatory Relief Committee met for the second time and heard testimony from DHEC and the SC Department of Licensing, Labor, and Regulation (LLR). We expect them to take statements from the business community next week. 

The Senate Re-Open South Carolina Select Committee met for the first time today and discussed the work that the accelerateSC Task Force and subcommittee have been doing over the last few weeks. They plan to attend regularly to make recommendations to SC Senate President Harvey Peeler.