Legislators make their case for business license, regulatory reform bills

Two bills moving through the legislative process in South Carolina could mean an easier and cheaper way of doing business for companies across the state.

State Reps. Rick Quinn, R-Lexington, and Todd Atwater, R-Lexington, spoke Tuesday to members of the Greater Lexington Chamber about legislation they have introduced to reform the business license fee system and eliminate unnecessary regulations placed on businesses.

Quinn said updating the business license format is something he has wanted to do for quite some time as a legislator and business owner himself.

“The methodology isn’t fair,” he said.

Business license fees currently are based on gross revenue instead of net revenue or the amount of services a business demands from a municipality. Quinn said he wants his bill to “start a conversation” on a “fair way to apply the tax” and base fees more on the services, like water and sewer, a business requires from a municipality.

Quinn referenced the complex classification system used by some municipalities to determine fees and said large corporations like Boeing can afford to hire attorneys to negotiate its fee down but the average small business cannot.

“My goal is to come up with a fair and just way for local government to charge the fee,” he said.

One aspect of the proposed bill is streamlining the process to obtain a business license.

Helping business owners who are overburdened is also on Atwater’s agenda with a regulatory reform bill. The bill implements a five-year sunset period for all state regulations created after the bill passes.

“The solution should be simple so it’s simple on you,” Atwater said.

Agencies like the Department of Health and Environmental Control can reintroduce a regulation after it expires but must make a case for its approval. Atwater said the review process will give individuals and businesses a chance to provide input about the regulation to the general assembly.

A review process is on the books now, but Atwater said it often goes disregarded.

“One of the impacts of this bill will be that the general assembly and state agencies will have to focus on the legally required review of regulations. That will give us an opportunity to eliminate existing regulations if they are not used or are being abused,” he said.

If the bill passes, it will result in the largest regulatory reform in South Carolina in a generation.

Several business owners thanked Quinn for his proposed bill, but Chapin Mayor Skip Wilson cautioned against seeing only the positives. He said officials must look at both sides of the issue so as not to harm municipalities’ ability to provide services in an effort to reduce business owners’ expenses. Municipalities’ budgets already are suffering from not receiving their full amount from the Local Government Fund.

“Sometimes (business owners) don’t realize what it takes to provide those services,” Wilson said.

Categories: Business, Lexington County