Panthers Looking for a Win in SC Senate Panthers coach Ron Rivera, a few players and their mascot “Sir Purr” were at the State House Thursday to meet with Governor Henry McMaster and to make appearances in the House and Senate chambers. This, all in an effort to help push legislation through the Senate that would provide tax incentives to the team for relocating to SC.
The House passed legislation (H.4243) last month that would provide nearly $120 million in tax breaks for the Carolina Panthers should they choose to move their facilities. The Senate version of the bill (S.655) remains on the Senate floor.
Senator Dick Harpootlian (D-Richland), along with a few other Senators, said they haven’t made up their mind yet on the bill.
Earlier this week, Governor Henry McMaster sent a letter to Senators which outlined a cost-benefit analysis of the Panthers move to York County.
Senator Harpootlian told WIS Thursday that he was concerned with the $40 million investment from the state to improve I-77. “Do we spend it on an interchange so the Panthers can get to their practice field? Or do we spend over in Lexington County or Malfunction Junction or Charleston where people are desperate to get on the interstate to go to work in the morning?”
According to the SC Department of Commerce, the 15-year economic benefit of the move for South Carolina would be about $3.8 billion.
However, Senator Harpootlian hired Dr. Rebecca Gunnlaugsson(a private economist who served as chief economist for the SC Department of Commerce from 2009 – 2011) to crunch some numbers, and her report yielded a smaller figure of $1.1 billion.
Senator Harpootlian said, “There’s a big swing there. Before we start spending tens of millions of dollars of our money, we need answers to that. Again, I haven’t committed to voting against or for it. I just don’t know what the numbers are.”
Harpootlian says he will continue to block the bill until he gets the answers he needs. Stay tuned…
"Drive Like You Work Here" This week has been National Work Zone Awareness Week, which is an annual spring campaign that kicks off the start of construction season and encourages safe driving through highway work zones. This year’s theme was “Drive Like You Work Here” and groups across the nation took to social media to remind drivers that crashes, injuries, and fatalities are avoidable if drivers slow down and use extra caution when traveling through work zones.
According to SCDOT, an average of 12 people die each year in work-zone related traffic collisions in South Carolina. Let's make 2019 a safe year!
Here's a look at some of the SC-specific coverage over the past week:
Legislative Schedule for Next Week The Senate will reconvene on Wednesday, April 17 to begin budget deliberations on the floor. The House will be on furlough next week and will reconvene on Tuesday, April 23.
Online Sales Tax Bill Ready to Become Law Legislation (S.214) sponsored by Senator Marlon Kimpson (D-Charleston) which updates language in the tax code to ensure that appropriate taxes are collected and enforced by the SC Department of Revenue (SCDOR) is very close to becoming law.
The bill clarifies that companies who sell tangible personal property from third-party sellers (online or through another means) are considered a “marketplace facilitator” and just like any retailer, they are responsible for collecting and remitting sales taxes on all purchases made.
While an exact fiscal impact is unclear, one thing is certain, state and local governments will likely see a boost in revenues. The bill was enrolled for ratification on April 5 and will soon head to the Governor for his signature.
Utility Relocation Update We anticipate that the utility relocation bill (S.401) sponsored by Senator Paul Campbell (R-Berkeley) will be taken up by the House Education & Public Works Committee when the House returns on April 23.
Under the proposal, water and sewer utilities would be classified as large or small, and reimbursements of costs by SCDOT (or other entity undertaking the project) would be based on the respective classification. All costs would be covered for small utilities, and up to 4.5% of the costs associated with relocation would be covered for large utilities.
The bill requires that the relocation must be placed under the general contractor for the project; however, large utilities can opt out but must abide by the construction schedule or forfeit funding. It also includes language to grandfather in projects underway, require SCDOT to report on relocation metrics annually, and to sunset the legislation in 2026.
House Republican Caucus Suspends Hill In a rare move, members of the House Republican Caucus met Tuesday and voted to suspend Rep. Jonathon Hill (R-Anderson) from membership in the Caucus.
The vote comes after leadership, and fellow members felt that he crossed the line in recent weeks by publicly sharing details of private Caucus discussions and distorting his colleagues’ statements and policy positions to make them look bad.
Rep. Hill touts his efforts to support limited government and transparency by regularly taking to social media and the House floor to publicly criticize his colleagues on many issues. (Most recently with the budget, abortion issues, and gun rights legislation.)
The Caucus posted the following statement on Facebook following news of the suspension:
It would take a majority vote of the Caucus for Hill to be reinstated; however, Hill told the press earlier this week that he didn’t see anyone changing their minds anytime soon.
Introductions of Interest
H.4438 – Local Option Sales Taxes
Primary Sponsor: Rep. Chris Murphy (R-Dorchester)
Allows counties who impose a one percent local option sales tax to impose an additional one percent sales tax. The bill was referred to the Ways & Means Committee.
H.4431 – Business License Tax Reform
Primary Sponsor: Rep. Jay Jordan (R-Florence)
Establishes that business license tax rates are computed based on gross revenues and provides for the adoption of a standardized business license class schedule. The bill also provides for specific provisions for the applicability of business license taxes to certain industries. The bill was referred to the LCI Committee.
Virginia Legislature Approves $280 Million Funding Plan Last week, Virginia’s Republican-controlled legislature passed Gov. Ralph Northam’s (D) $280 million annual funding plan for Interstate 81 and other highway improvements.
The revenue comes from a local 2.1 percent tax on the average wholesale price of fuel in districts along the I-81 corridor which raises gas prices by about 7 cents-per-gallon in those areas. Truck registration fees will increase in this year, and by 2021 the diesel tax will increase to 2.03 percent of the state average wholesale price per gallon. The revenue generated from the local gas tax and diesel tax will go toward the I-81 Improvement Fund, but other revenue will be distributed to other transportation projects.
The plan dedicates $151 million annually toward a $2 billion program approved by the Commonwealth Transportation Board in December 2018. This program will fund critical improvements to I-81 identified by the Virginia Department of Transportation. Some I-81 improvements in the design include the addition of auxiliary lanes, adjusting capacity for exit lanes, interchange improvements, and ramp extensions.
The remaining annual balance is allocated to other Virginia interstate projects:
$40 million to I-95
$28 million to I-64
$20 million to the Northern Virginia Transportation Authority
$43 million reserved for interstates as prioritized by the Commonwealth Transportation Board