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House GOP Unveils 2012 Agenda
Focus is on taxes, jobs, and getting conservative reforms through Senate
COLUMBIA â€“ The South Carolina House Republican Caucus unveiled its 2012 Legislative Agenda today focusing on a fairer tax code, stronger Right to Work laws, healthier retirement system, ensuring the First in the South Primary, and pushing last yearâ€™s reforms through the S.C. Senate.
â€œLast year, we unveiled a 20-point agenda that we expected to take 2 years to complete. Turns out, all we needed were 19 Wednesdays,â€ said House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham. â€œThis year, weâ€™re tackling a smaller number of bigger, systemic reforms critical to the future of our state.â€
The top item on the Caucus agenda is tax reform. Rep. Tommy Stringer, R-Greer, chaired a Caucus tax study committee last fall and legislation from that committee will be introduced in the next few weeks.
â€œThe committee worked on creating a fairer tax code. We examined each of the sales tax exemptions on their merit and looked across the tax code for ways we could be fairer to taxpayers and stimulate the economy,â€ Stringer said. â€œI look forward to introducing legislation that eliminates nearly two-thirds of the special interest sales tax exemptions while flattening income taxes, lowering the sales tax, reforming property taxes, and lowering burdensome taxes on small businesses.â€
This week, the House will debate the Right to Work Act, filed last month by Chairman Bill Sandifer, which identifies more than a half-dozen places where our Right to Work Act could be strengthened to protect our workers, and protect individual liberty.
The next item on the agenda is shoring up the state retirement system, which threatens not only tens of thousands of state retirees and their families, but also threatens the wallets of millions of taxpayers.
â€œWe made a promise to state employees and many of them understand we must make major changes to the system to keep it solvent,â€ said Rep. Jim Merrill, who chaired the Ways and Means subcommittee studying the retirement system. â€œWe have a responsibility to the taxpayers to ensure the retirement system doesnâ€™t bust the state budget for years to come. We are nearing completion of a plan that will fulfill our promises, and it will require sacrifice from everyone.â€
The House GOP also wants to cement the First in the South Primary status for both parties â€“ a position that gives our state a uniquely strong position in selecting the eventual Republican and Democrat nominee for President.
Finally, the House Republicans will push the Senate to approve the 14 items from our 2011 agenda in that body.
â€œIf the Senate acts, we still have time to approve 14 items that we sent to the Senate last year,â€ said Assistant Majority Leader Bruce Bannister. â€œIncluded in these are important reforms for conservatives: a state spending limit, shortening the legislative session, reforming how bureaucratic regulations are created, creating a Department of Administration, and critical new pro-life protections. The Republican Caucus urges our colleagues in the Senate to break the logjams and pass these items quickly.â€
House Speaker Bobby Harrell added, â€œThis is the year we can deliver on the reforms that South Carolinians want â€“ a more responsible government, true fiscal discipline and a highly competitive state. I have full confidence in this Caucusâ€™s ability to take action on major issues, and by passing these reforms into law, we can give our citizens reason to have full confidence in their government.â€
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The South Carolina House Republican Caucus is the association of the 76 Republican members of the state House of Representatives. South Carolina's most important government reforms have originated in the House Republican Caucus agendas, including property tax reform, tort reform, campaign finance reform, the creation of charter schools, illegal immigration reform and workers' compensation reform, among many others.
Eighteen years ago, South Carolina voters entrusted the House Republicans with control of the S.C. House of Representatives. In 2010, the voters gave the House Republicans the largest majority the GOP has held in modern times â€“ expanding the majority from 72 to 76 members.