Weekly Update 4.22.2011

This Week at the Statehouse
April 22nd, 2011

 Budget Week

The full Senate will begin debate on the budget beginning at noon on Tuesday, April 26th.

Congratulations

Congratulations to Upstate Senator Harvey Peeler (Cherokee).  The Senate Republican Caucus reelected Senator Peeler to another term as Senate Majority Leader. He was first elected Senate Majority Leader in 2005.

Employment and Workforce

The unemployment rate in S.C. dropped to 9.9 percent in March. This is the lowest the state has achieved since its high of 11.8 percent in 2009.

House and Senate Furlough

The House took this week (April 18-22) off as a furlough week. They will reconvene on Tuesday, April 26th. The Senate met Tuesday and Wednesday of this week but took today (April 21st) off.

Labor Issues

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed suit against Boeing this week calling for the company to open a second 787 facility in the state of Washington to remedy what it calls an illegal transfer of work to non-union facilities in North Charleston.  Both U.S. Senator Lindsey Graham and U.S. Senator Jim DeMint have spoken out publicly against the NLRB complaint and both have vowed to do everything in their power to stop it from going forward.  

Medical School Expansion

The S.C. Commission on Higher Education will begin their review of the expansion of the University of S.C. Medical University to Greenville on Thursday, May 12th. The CHE will also meet on May 19th and then wrap up discussion with the final hearing and response on June 2nd.

Redistricting

As we get closer to the end of this legislative year, the issue of redistricting will soon become a main topic of discussion. To take a closer look at the new Census data for South Carolina, please click here.

In addition, the SC House and Senate have set up websites to update the public on the redistricting process. For more information visit http://redistricting.schouse.gov/ or http://redistricting.scsenate.gov/

Tax Reform

On Wednesday of this week, the Greenville News wrote and published an editorial entitled “Act 388 hurts South Carolina.  Here is an excerpt:

Act 388 shifted an unfair share of the property tax burden to businesses. Because taxes on primary residences were the only ones to which the swap applied, commercial property taxes now bear an unfair share of the burden for school operations in South Carolina. Commercial property taxes are disproportionately higher in South Carolina thanks to Act 388.

The only real solution left for South Carolina is to undo Act 388 and undertake real, comprehensive tax reform. State lawmakers have stubbornly refused to admit they made a mistake with Act 388 and consider reversing their error. Such shortsightedness hurts South Carolina’s public schools and ultimately means more pain for all state taxpayers.

If you have an online subscription to the Greenville News, you can read the entire editorial by clicking here.

Tort Reform

This week, business leaders from across the state contacted senators urging them to support the Martin/Peeler tort reform amendment. The amendment, sponsored by Senate Rules Chairman Larry Martin (Pickens) and Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler (Cherokee), restores the tort reform legislation to H.3375, the original bill offered by the business community and passed by the House.

In case you missed it…an opinion editorial on tort reform was published in Wednesday’s edition of The State Newspaper. To read it, please click here

Unemployment Insurance

The Senate did not debate S.478, legislation addressing the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Trust Fund, this week.  With the Senate debating the budget next week, it is unlikely debate on S.478 will occur until at least the first week of May. 

If and when debate on S.478 does occur, there is a push by some Senators to add an amendment to include “Scenario 23” which would postpone the payback of the federal loan while providing some relief to companies in tiers 13-20.  Senator Kevin Bryant (Anderson) is also working on an amendment that in June 2012, would reduce unemployment benefits by 30%.  That reduction in overall benefits could provide some relief for employers.