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Caucus Report 13 – Rep. Bill Wylie’s Angel Investor Bill

The top priority of the House Republican Caucus this year is improving the economy and helping the private sector create jobs.

Earlier in the session, the House approved new legislation protecting businesses from frivolous and unfounded lawsuits. (The legislation has still not been passed by the state Senate.) This week, the House opened new avenues of funding for our state’s small businesses by passing new tax credits for “Angel” investors.

Angel investors provide critical funding for start-up companies that can’t secure funding from banks. Typically, these are high-risk, but high-reward businesses. For example, Angel investors provided critical funding for Google when it was just a small website with a couple of employees.

The House bill was one of the final projects former Greenville Rep. Bill Wylie was working on when he passed last fall. My colleagues renamed the bill in his honor.

Small businesses are the backbone of the American economy, and Angel investors provide critical capital to get these businesses off the ground. If we can help fellow South Carolinians get their ideas off the ground, we all win.

Those friends and neighbors – the people who have the next great idea in computer technology or biotechnology – have the potential to create dozens, hundreds, or thousands of jobs. If we keep them here in our state, they will potentially create jobs here. These businesses sometimes need as little as $10,000 or $25,000 to fund operations while they search for markets where they can sell their product.

The bill provides a tax credit for people who provide capital to specific types of small businesses in our state – including manufacturing, warehousing, wholesaling, and technology, among others. It specifically excludes investments in other businesses, such as construction, from claiming the credit. Angel investors can claim up to a $100,000 tax credit over 10 years, and only $5 million can be credited by the state each year to all Angel investors. Half of the states in the United States have similar tax credits for Angel investors – including North Carolina and Georgia.

If this bill entices more people to get involved and help our state’s small entrepreneurs, that is a recipe for more businesses and more jobs here in our state.

This week, unfortunately we continued the Voter ID debate.

This week the Senate voted down the “clean” Voter ID bill – a bill that requires voters to present a government-issued picture ID to prove his or her identity when they go to vote. When the bill went back in front of the Senate this week, the Senate insisted on including the same unrelated provisions that killed Voter ID last year.

Voter ID was only one vote away from becoming law. Given the overwhelming Republican majority in the Senate – and the fact that the Senate Republicans have more than enough votes to end a Democrat filibuster – it was shocking to witness a Senate swayed and influenced so heavily by a minority party bent on killing the bill.

The Senate is taking a stand against a bill supported by 4 out of 5 voters in America; took a stand against a groundswell of grassroots support and against our state’s constitution.  An official opinion issued by SC’s Attorney General clearly stated that the Senate’s version of Voter ID is ‘constitutionally suspect’ and gave strong arguments that directly support the House’s clean Voter ID bill. 

Voter ID is about securing our elections, pure and simple. It is a major plank in the South Carolina Republican Party platform, and Chairman Karen Floyd came out this week in support of the House version of the bill.

The Republican Caucus hopes that a compromise can be reached on the House’s constitutionally appropriate clean Voter ID bill.  If the joint conference committee becomes deadlocked because of an insistence on the Senate’s unconstitutional and unrelated additions, this bill will be put on the same fatal track that killed last year’s bill.