Thursday, June 12, 2014
Berkeley Chamber of Commerce members gathered Friday, June 6, to hear legislative issues from representatives and a senator.
The annual luncheon took place at the Red Bank Club in Goose Creek. S.C. representatives Edward Southard, Joseph Jefferson, Samuel Rivers, and Joe Daning, and S.C. Sen. Sean Bennett attended.
“The business community focuses on the day-to-day and they sometimes aren’t aware of the impact of what could be going on (legislatively),” chamber CEO Elaine Morgan said. “This event is good for feedback on both sides. It’s a give and take.”
Legislators spoke on a variety of business-related issues, like fixing infrastructure and raising the gasoline tax. At the end of the event, the audience did not pose any questions to the legislators.
Southard took the opportunity to talk ethics reform in Columbia. Bennett talked about the recent passage of a bill allowing more craft brewing in the state — saying it could help the state gain billions in economic impact. Jefferson talked about continued education and healthcare reform.
One item all legislators were asked to address was the subject of raising the gasoline tax.
Most legislators said they were in favor of it or at the very least talking about it, including Bennett.
“It’s something we need to talk about it,” Bennett said. “Hopefully starting in January we can resurrect that and have that conversation.”
Bennett said he’s working with S.C. Sen. Larry Grooms on a bill that would increase gas tax over 10 years, while decreasing income tax.
Rivers was the only legislator to dissent against raising the gas tax.
“I, for one, am not for raising the gasoline tax,” Rivers said. “In my district, there are only 150 people that makes over $150,000 per year. South Carolina can’t afford to raise taxes on everyone. We must expand our tax base by bringing in bigger businesses.”