SC Legislative Update – April 5

ABA Fly-In – At the beginning of last week, we joined other State Association Officials and representatives from Coca-Cola, Pepsi, Dr. Pepper, Cheerwine and other major beverage companies in Washington D.C. for the American Beverage Association’s annual Fly-In — nearly 200 individuals participated.  We visited all members’ offices of the South Carolina delegation.  We expressed the industry’s concerns with the ever rising popularity of excise taxes on our products as well as the threat of restricting purchasing our products with SNAP dollars.  As always the ABA staff provided us with excellent handouts and advice.

SNAP Threat On Our Border – In case you missed it, a bill was filed in the North Carolina Senate last week to begin a process that would lead to that state restricting the use of federal Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) to purchase “food items that may have little or no nutritional value, including but not limited to, soft drinks, candy, cakes, and cookies, that are otherwise subject to State sales tax.”  Butch Gunnells and Amy McConkey are engaged in the fight. We do not have such a bill … yet.

SC’s State Budget and Bond Bill – The Senate debates the appropriations bill on the floor this week. There are no surprises and the bill is similar to what the House passed last month.  All eyes are on what will happen to the proposed bond bill.  For decades, a bond bill was used by the state to pay for long term projects like college dorms, state office buildings and hospitals.  No such bill has been enacted here in 20 years.  A bond bill was introduced last month with money for Clemson, USC, MUSC, etc. — most observers expect it to pass.  Governor McMaster threw a monkey wrench in the plan this week when he asked that the bond bill be doubled (now borrowing $1 billion instead of the planned $500 million) and have all that money go to roads.  Apparently, he feels it is more prudent to borrow the money to pay for needed road improvements, rather than the century old method of having gas taxes pay for roads.  Our state senate is so adverse to passing any kind of tax increase (even one that has not been raised in 31 years) that this may be the only way to build and rebuild our roads.