Sandifer to address business leaders

By Carlos Galarza
January 14, 2009
COLUMBIA — Rep. Bill Sandifer, R-Seneca, will be among the heavy political hitters from the House and Senate who will host a gathering of influential business leaders from around the state today.

Starting his 14th year representing District 2 that takes in Oconee County and parts of Pickens County, Sandifer was installed last month as chairman of the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee. It is one of only six standing committees in the chamber.

In his new position, Sandifer was invited to address a gathering of more than 300 business leaders in town for the annual “Business Speaks at the State House” forum.

Organized by the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce, the event brings together representatives of the business community, constitutional officers and members of the General Assembly to discuss issues ahead of Gov. Mark Sanford’s State of the State Address tonight.

Sandifer said he was invited to address business leaders separately and later take part in a panel discussion from 4 p.m.-6 p.m. House Speaker Bobby Harrell and Senate Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell also plan to address the group prior to the panel discussion.

In a recent interview with the Daily Journal/Messenger, state Chamber of Commerce President and Chief Executive Officer Otis Rawl identified Sandifer as one of the lawmakers in the House and Senate “who is business friendly.”

Before heading to Columbia for the start of the 2009 legislative session, Sandifer said there are several pending bills he plans to put a personal stamp on that he hopes will make a difference for business owners, taxpayers and consumers.

“I’m working to give some relief to taxpayers in Oconee County,” Sandifer said.

The plan, which is still in draft form, would allow property owners to have more time to pay their property taxes without penalty. Sandifer said the extended grace period would be available to all the counties that want to use it.

Other legislation Sandifer would like to see move quickly through the legislative process includes:

• Attempting to level the playing field for telecommunication companies looking for equal treatment with cellular phone companies and cable TV operators in the use of landlines;

• Regulating payday-lending

institutions so they are required to participate in a database that would help screen out consumers from having more than one loan out at a time; and

• Establishing a program that would limit taxes to a company’s income derived from work in the county or municipalities rather than on the company’s gross sales.

Sandifer added there’s a high probability that some kind of spending limitation bill would make it through the General Assembly this session. He said McConnell is behind a plan that would set aside revenues exceeding projections to a trust account to be drawn from only during lean times. Sandifer said in the recent past the House has passed spending limitation bills that have failed to clear the Senate.

In all likelihood, the legislature would revisit the 2006 tax-reform initiatives adopted that year, Sandifer said. That would include Act 388, which shifted funding of schools from owner-occupied property tax to sales-tax revenues, which are on the decline because of the weak economy.

“Never do we pass significant legislation that we don’t go back to look at it to tweak it,” Sandifer said.