March 2024 Advocacy Updates

Posted By: Jordan Amaker Advocacy Updates, General News,

Below are things you should know or take action on right now as a local-independent business owner or community leader:

Federal Level 

LLF members speak with Sen. Graham's staff in Feb 2024

Local Level 

  • The Union Pier planning team recently launched a virtual community engagement platform via its new website. Also, don't miss out on the open house opportunity on Tues, March 5.

  • Lowcountry Thrives is a program in the making, aimed at fostering sustainability practices among businesses in the Lowcountry. They're seeking input from local businesses to create a resource that genuinely empowers Lowcountry businesses to adopt greener practices. The Ask: 15 Minute Survey - We value a diverse range of feedback and ideas from local businesses. Your input is essential as we continue to intentionally design and tailor the program. Thank you for taking the time to share your thoughts with us. 

  • The City of Charleston is seeking input from minority and women-owned businesses across the region to further understand how the City can advance strategies that promote a more equitable business environment on the Charleston Peninsula (and beyond!) Click here to take the survey.

State Level 

  • Regulation shift impacting food producers/retailers: The South Carolina Department of Agriculture is taking over DHEC’s food safety programs effective July 1, 2024. The South Carolina Department of Agriculture will take over regulation of: 
    - Retail food safety (restaurant kitchens, grocery stores, caterers, school cafeterias, some convenience stores, and more) 
    - Dairy and Milk 
    - Wholesale bottled water, soft drinks, and ice manufacturing
    Learn more. 

  • Impacting Local Booksellers, Readers: 
    Two active pieces of state legislation:  
    • SC H 4701 & H 4654 are essentially clones of the Texas READER Act. They would both force vendors of school and library materials to issue ratings for “sexually explicit” and “sexually relevant” material, which essentially encompass any depiction of a sex act regardless of literary, artistic, or educational merit of the work as a whole. Those ratings would need to be supplied retroactively for any material sold previously to school districts or charter schools by September 1, 2024, otherwise vendors will be blacklisted and not permitted to sell to schools until they are in compliance. These ratings will need to be updated annually. The cost of this provision is likely to constitute a de facto ban on small vendors doing business with schools, as it may outweigh the expected revenue or simply be impracticable. Both bills are in the SC House Committee on Education and Public Works. 
    • SC H 3826, H 3706, and S 506 are all titled “Protection of Minors from Pornography and Obscenities Act” but in fact make the definition of obscenity so capacious that it would make thousands of classics and contemporary works regulated as pornography. It would make the distribution of material any portion of which depicts a sex act or contains profane language to be considered harmful to minors. Knowing distribution or sale of this material to minors would constitute a felony. In practice, it may make bookstores 18+ institutions by default, decimate the stock after a ruinously expensive review process, or force the creation of impractical “adults only” sections. These bills are all in the Committee on Judiciary of the SC House and Senate.

Other things we dig: 

Questions? Input? Let us know.