Endorsements & Positions
October 5, 2020 - Voting is Fundamental
Voters in South Carolina have been understandably confused about changing absentee voting rules. In case you are wondering, these votes are not provisional and will be counted. South Carolina does not have early voting, but the state does have in-person, absentee voting, which is exactly what the Southeastern Chamber of Commerce's Director of Programs and Development, Brenda Braye, accessed in North Charleston today. Only a photo i.d. was required and voters were asked if they had already voted by mail. If so, they were asked to go into a separate line (which is rarely a great thing) where the situation would be worked out. We didn't hear any crying or loud shouts coming from that other line or the room they went into, so we're pretty sure it was worked out, but the recommendation given to us was to tell those we knew not to vote by mail ballot if they planned to vote absentee in-person.
We were handed a giant cotton swab to touch the screen with (at first we wondered if some other procedure was about to happen) and everything went pretty smoothly. Everyone was very pleasant and there was an exciting buzz in the air from both voters and those who were helping us figure it all out as we went through the process. All-in-all, we had a rather pleasant experience, feel pretty good about ourselves, and wish the same for you. Other locations will open in the days leading up to the November election. Clear as mud? Click the link below for info directly from the South Carolina Election Commission. And thank you for voting, however you get it done!
September 30, 2020 - Small Businesses & Nonprofits in SC Eligible for $65M in New COVID-19 Aid
New federally-funded grants to small businesses ($40 million) and nonprofits ($25 million) were approved by the SC legislature on September 23, 2020. What does this mean to some of our members and others struggling to keep doors open during the pandemic? We’ll call it good news!
Grants are capped at $25,000 and $50,000 respectively, spending, in a legislative compromise, what’s left of a $1.9 billion chunk of federal COVID-19 aid for South Carolina approved by Congress late March.
Eligible expenses for both grant programs include two month’s rent, payroll, utilities and protective items.
For small business grants, the priority is on those with less than 15 employees and minority-owned businesses, neither of which have received other federal Coronavirus relief.
The nonprofit grant program aid is meant for organizations that help South Carolina residents by providing food, bill paying assistance, shelter for abuse victims, mental health counseling and other health care services. Aid cannot go directly to individuals.
The priority in phase-two funding is to replenish the fund that pays for state unemployment benefits. It’s expected that the latest allocation to the jobless fund, combined with another $500 million sent in May will cover this year’s historically high layoff payments. A separate clause barring the state Department of Employment and Workforce from raising businesses’ unemployment taxes in 2021 is hoped to help companies bring back laid off workers.
The compromise also put 93.1 million toward statewide testing for COVID-19 and allows for interviewing symptom-free people who test positive, to identify who might potentially need to quarantine to prevent further spread.
Some state money originally meant for in-person summer learning will be redirected for tutoring, school safety, online teachers and full-time nurses. Under the CARES ACT, any of the 1.9 billion under the legislature’s control must be spent by December 31 to avoid being reverted to federal coffers.