PRESS RELEASE: Speaker Lucas Appoints House Tax Policy Review Committee

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Speaker Lucas Appoints House Tax Policy Review Committee

Member panel charged with offering suggestions to reform outdated tax code

 (Columbia, SC) – House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) today appointed fourteen members of the SC House to serve on the House Tax Policy Review Committee.  This ad hoc committee will be responsible for reviewing South Carolina’s current tax code and submitting suggestions for reform to the Speaker before the beginning of next legislative session. The group will hold its first meeting next Tuesday, August 30th, 2016, at 2 P.M. in room 516 of the Blatt Building.

“Our outdated tax code needs a dramatic transformation in order to promote economic competitiveness and increase the size of our citizens’ paychecks. Achieving this difficult task is long overdue, but necessary to ensure our tax code is fair for our taxpayers. A broader and flatter tax code will help continue to spur job growth and provide greater opportunities for South Carolina families,” Speaker Jay Lucas stated.

Speaker Lucas selected Speaker Pro-Tempore Tommy Pope (District 47-York) to serve as Chairman of the House Tax Policy Review Committee. Additional members include: Rep. Todd Atwater (District 87-Lexington), Rep. Bill Bowers (District 122-Hampton), Rep. Mike Burns (District 17-Greenville), Rep. Joe Daning (District 92-Berkeley), Rep. Chandra Dillard (District 23-Greenville), Rep. MaryGail Douglas (District 41-Fairfield), Rep. Shannon Erickson (District 124-Beaufort), Rep. Joe Jefferson (District 102-Berkeley), Rep. Jay Jordan (District 63-Florence), Rep. Roger Kirby (District 61-Florence), Rep. Mandy Powers Norrell (District 44-Lancaster), Rep. Bill Taylor (District 86-Aiken), and Rep. Anne Thayer (District 9-Anderson).

“Representative Tommy Pope and the bipartisan members of this ad hoc committee were individually selected because of their leadership abilities and knowledge of the tax system. I am confident that this diverse group will successfully begin laying the groundwork for significant tax reform,” Speaker Lucas concluded.

PRESS RELEASE: House Passes Partial Road Funding Bill

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House Passes Partial Road Funding Bill

Amends legislation to include DOT reform

(Columbia, SC) – House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement after the House amended S. 1258, a bill that allocates through bonding and other means over $4 billion dollars for interstate needs, road resurfacing, and bridge repair over the next ten years. Today’s House passage of S. 1258 provides another opportunity for a road funding bill (although partial) to be signed into law by Governor Haley before the end of the legislative session.

“Members of the House understand that the people of South Carolina expect their Legislature to pass a roads bill this year. Although more effort must be made next session to find a long-term funding stream, this bill is a starting point that allows for adequate repair of deficient roads and bridges without raiding our state’s General Fund,” Speaker Lucas stated.

The Senate version of S. 1258 only provided for bonding and did not address DOT reform. The Ways and Means Committee successfully amended the bill prior to debate on the House floor to include DOT reform, which gives (1) the Governor the ability to appoint all Highway Commissioners, and (2) the Highway Commission the authority to appoint a Department of Transportation Secretary with the advice and consent of the General Assembly.

“DOT reform is a crucial piece to the road funding puzzle. The General Assembly should not give another penny to the Department of Transportation without certain accountability requirements in place to ensure taxpayer dollars are spent wisely. I am very pleased the House successfully amended the Senate version to include governance restructuring as an effort to promote efficiency within DOT,” Speaker Lucas concluded.

PRESS RELEASE: Speaker Lucas: House Overrides Farm Aid Veto

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House Overrides Farm Aid Veto

Stands up for farmers and state’s largest industry

(Columbia, SC) – House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement today after the South Carolina House of Representatives voted overwhelmingly (112-2) to override Governor Haley’s Farm Aid veto.

“The South Carolina House recognizes the unprecedented loss our farmers experienced last October and understands the economic impact at stake if these concerns are ignored,” House Speaker Lucas stated. “Governor Haley’s factually inaccurate justification for vetoing the Farm Aid bill is inconsistent with South Carolina values.

“When Governor Haley petitioned the federal government for flood relief assistance last fall, she included homeowners and small businesses but intentionally ignored our farmers’ plea for help by leaving them out of the request. Because of the Governor’s refusal to advocate on behalf of our state’s largest industry, the General Assembly was forced to take action.

“The Farm Aid bill establishes a verified grant process that will assist our farmers with the rebuilding process. This program provides our agriculture industry with state disaster assistance that has already been afforded to small businesses and homeowners by the federal government. I am extremely proud of the leadership the House has demonstrated today and hope the Senate will act accordingly to ensure our farmers are able to recover from last October’s historic flood.”

Flood Findings/Figures and Farm Aid Bill Provisions:

  • South Carolina farmers suffered an estimated $376M of crop loss. Only $125M was covered by crop insurance, leaving $250M in uncovered loss.
  • Farmers are ineligible for federal Small Business Administration loans and unemployment benefits.
  • South Carolina has over twenty-five thousand farms across nearly five million acres, which generate billions of dollars annually and represents a vital component to a healthy state economy.
  • The federal crop insurance program established in 2014 is an inadequate method of indemnification as compared to traditional forms of insurance and is not sufficient to aid farmers with substantial losses due to catastrophic events of nature.
  • In order to apply for a Farm Aid grant, a farmer must have a loss of at least 40% of total agricultural commodity. Grants awarded will be equal to 20% of the total loss, with a maximum grant of $100,000. Grants can only be used for agricultural production expenses and losses due to October’s flood and excludes the purchase of new equipment. Strict eligibility and verification requirements are in place to prevent fraud and/or abuse and the program must be re-appropriated annually for future use.