By Paul Gable
The decision on whether Myrtle Beach will be able to reimpose its tourism tax remains in question at this time.
The SC House adjourned debate on a bill (S1122) that would provide a means to reimpose the tourism tax if the bill passes.
Debate on the bill is now scheduled for Tuesday May 31, 2016.
The original bill passed the SC Senate unanimously, but the House amended the bill to eliminate a provision that would allow Myrtle Beach City Council to reimpose the tax by a supermajority vote of at least two-thirds of its members.
If the bill passes in its current, amended form, the tourism tax would have to pass a referendum of city voters in order to be reimposed.
Eighty percent of the revenue raised from the tax goes to the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce for marketing the Myrtle Beach tourism attractions out of area.
Since being approved in 2009, the city has transferred in excess of $120 million to the Chamber. This has allowed the private tourism corporations to reduce their marketing budgets by as much as 95%.
Such a transfer of wealth from a public tax to benefit private businesses should be subject to approval by a voter referendum. Actually, it shouldn’t happen at all, especially in an area that prides itself on being so free market capitalist and conservative Republican.
It’s obvious the conservative politicians and their capitalist buddies don’t have a problem imposing taxes and spending the resulting revenue, just so long as it doesn’t come from their pockets.
The bill still has a couple of hurdles. It must pass two more readings in the House. If it passes there in its amended form, a compromise will have to be worked out with the Senate on whether or not to only allow reimposition of the tax after a favorable referendum of the voters.
The Chamber has a way of getting exactly what it wants from the politicians. The politicians want to have the Chamber PACs working for them, or at least neutral. It would not surprise me to see a final bill passed with the supermajority option for city council reinstated.
Such a result would be a huge negative for the citizens.