The S.C. African American Chamber of Commerce has identified seven major legislative goals for the 2013-14 Legislative session. The Chamber will work to advance these goals through public advocacy and outreach to the S.C. General Assembly.
1. Cyber-security. Establish new cyber-security safeguards to protect citizens and businesses from breaches which reveal personal records. The state Internet Technology office must be given the resources necessary to fully encrypt all personally-identifying data.
2. Health care. Take steps to ensure that new regulations set forth in the Affordable Care Act don’t place unnecessary burdens on businesses, while at the same time ensuring the most vulnerable citizens are granted needed health care services.
3. Education. Improve our education system across-the-board to ensure that the state’s workforce is viable and that students are prepared for the future. A well-prepared workforce is one key to attracting desirable new industry.
a) Establish smart budgeting practices which protect public schools during mid-year budget cuts. We must end the practice of cutting agency budgets across-the-board in times of revenue shortfalls; instead, cuts should always be “targeted” in order to protect priority services such as education and public safety.
b) Provide public school alternatives to traditional educational settings – alternatives such as charter schools, magnet programs and virtual-learning programs – empowering parents with more educational options for their children.
c) In addition to striving for world-class educational opportunities for college-bound students, ensure adequate technical and vocational opportunities for students entering the workforce directly from high school.
4. A business-friendly environment. Foster a business-friendly environment with a competitive tax structure and free from burdensome over-regulation:
a) Low tax rates free up capital for existing businesses to grow and expand, creating jobs; and they’re attractive for companies deciding where to locate and/or expand operations.
b) Over-regulation can consume businesses’ energy and resources and deter existing companies from expanding, as well as deter new industry from locating in South Carolina.
5. Nuclear energy. Pursue nuclear energy, both for its economic benefits and for providing safe, affordable, reliable power. Nuclear energy is becoming safer and cleaner, and it’s the only form of base power that releases no pollutants or greenhouse gases while it’s producing power. And nuclear power stands to play a major role in revitalizing economically stagnant areas of the state.
6. Ethics. Prioritize ethics reform. South Carolinians must be able to have confidence that our elected leaders are putting citizens’ interests first. (When they’re at their best, state leaders can create a sense of optimism about the direction of our state and inspire their constituents to become personally involved in improving their local communities. But when there’s even the perception that elected leaders fail to live up to the expectations of the people they serve, public trust in government erodes.) The General Assembly can help restore lost trust by enacting reasonable changes to the state’s ethics laws – such as full income disclosure for public officials, making governmental decision-making more transparent and improving access to public records.
7. Tourism. Continue to promote South Carolina as a tourist destination as a means of enhancing the economy. Focus on finding a long-term, balanced, sustainable approach to tourism – promoting tourism for all regions of the state and balancing the economic benefits with our other needs.
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