State House

South Carolina Lawmakers Have ‘Priority Problem’

“We must do something immediately to protect small businesses …”

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With South Carolina state lawmakers poised to approve an extended debate this spring on a controversial health care restructuring bill, advocates for other pieces of legislation are stepping forward to insist their bills receive similar priority consideration.

In other words, they’re asking lawmakers to show their true priorities …

Lawmakers adjourned sine die earlier this month. The term sine die is Latin for “without day.” It means lawmakers are done for the year – and can only reconvene to consider legislation expressly referenced in their adjournment resolution (S. 1192). That includes final debate over their pork-filled $40 billion state budget as well as various bills which cleared both chambers and were awaiting final compromises.

The health care restructuring bill was not among these pieces of legislation … although it could be added to the resolution (and thus taken up for consideration) by a two-thirds vote of both chambers.

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If lawmakers revive the restructuring bill – as they appear likely to do – advocates for other bills are demanding similar action on their legislation. Among them? S.C. Venue Crisis, a group advocating the reform of the Palmetto State’s broken, anti-competitive liability laws.

In the Palmetto State, businesses can be forced to pay 100 percent of a verdict even if they are determined to be only one percent liable for the accident from whence the judgment sprung. Is that fair? No … but it’s especially pernicious to small businesses, most notably bars and restaurants which provide vital employment lifelines to thousands of low-income workers.

Saddled with stratospheric insurance costs, dozens of these businesses are shuttering.

Legislation introduced this year, S. 533, would’ve changed that – but like the restructuring bill it did not clear the General Assembly prior to the sine die deadline. If lawmakers are going to revive the former bill, business owners say they should also revive the latter.

“Small businesses across the state are being forced to shutter their doors and close their businesses due to exorbitant insurance rates caused by the state’s joint and several liability laws,” a coalition of small business owners wrote earlier this month in a letter to state leaders. “In the wake of the government-imposed Covid lockdowns, small businesses, especially restaurants and music venues, have endured enough, and the General Assembly should focus on reducing regulations on these businesses who serve as the economic backbone of South Carolina.”

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RELATED | SOUTH CAROLINA’S SORRY RESTRUCTURING BATTLE

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This is especially true seeing as lawmakers are blowing every penny of new money coming into Columbia in the upcoming 2024-2025 budget – while refusing to give back a $1.8 billion surplus they recently uncovered.

S.C. Freedom Caucus chairman Adam Morgan called out “Republican” leaders for failing to prioritize the needs of those who are subsidizing the Palmetto State’s annual budget.

“We have a priority problem in South Carolina, and sadly, small businesses seem to not be on the list of priorities for either chamber,” Morgan said in a statement. “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and are hurting more than ever before. We must do something immediately to protect them.”

Fixing our broken tort laws would be a good place to start … and if lawmakers are going to bend their rules to allow for extended debate on the restructuring bill, bending them to lower insurance rates for small businesses seems reasonable.

To draw attention to this issue, S.C. Venue Crisis leaders will join a handful of elected officials at a press conference this coming Wednesday (May 29, 2024) at Pinky’s Revenge – an arcade and game lounge located in Taylors, S.C. The press conference has been scheduled for 10:00 a.m. EDT.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and eight children.

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2 comments

J Doe May 27, 2024 at 8:25 pm

Adam Morgan is a f’’ing hypocrite. Freedumb Caucus wastes more time with its theocracy initiatives then any other legislators in Columbia.

Reply
NewberryGuy Top fan May 27, 2024 at 9:07 pm

No doubt in my mind Morgan is a massive hypocrite. If he makes it to Congress the details or mommy and daddy helping him clean up “squeaky clean” BJU background will soon come to light.

Reply

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