S.C. Legislators voted today by an almost unanimous override of Governor Haley’s veto on the Tourist Tax. The vote guaranteed the tourist tax extended to 2029.
There will most likely be no voter referendum on this new tax. No public discussion nor input from any local citizens were highlighted during this process. Internal statewide polling had the popularity of the tax at 28% approval.
Update: June 2, 2016 The legislation enacted in 2009 that allowed the Tourist Tax to be imposed originally by the City Council is the law that has been extended. H5011 basically codifies when and how a referendum is to be done, but still allows re-imposition by 2/3 of Council. In English – A referendum could possibly be held, but a simple 2/3 majority vote by city council will extend this law.
$300 million in new mandated taxes with this extension
While the tourist tax legislation quietly worked its way through the General Assembly all Spring, locals were given no media coverage on the issue along the coast in March nor April. MyrtleBeachSC.com began making references to the bill in mid May, as it headed to reconciliation in the general assembly. No other local media station covered the news until this past week.
Governor Haley vetoed the tax last Friday. Local media only began covering that story early this week.
The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce immediately put out a statement thanking the local delegation (County elected S.C. Senators & S.C. Congressmen) and the General Assembly overall. The Chamber presser highlighted global statements about record setting tourism growth. Factually, those global statements do not match reality.
GOVERNOR HALEY VERSUS THE SYSTEM
Local officials promised they would use all resources to ensure that tourists and locals continued to be taxed.
Governor Haley vetoed the tax on Friday stating that voters should have some say in when they are taxed. As she visits Myrtle Beach this Friday to endorse Senate 33 candidate Scott Pyle, locals we spoke with felt it curious the vote was rushed through today before she could get to town. She certainly has solid opinions on the matter.
Senator Luke Rankin is running as an incumbent for the District 33 seat. Many locals believe Senator Rankin works largely for these handful of local tourism insiders.
Governor Haley is endorsing Scott Pyle Friday as she believes he will work for the people of District 33 and not just a handful of local tourism leaders.
On his Senatorial Campaign Facebook page, Pyle promises to do just that.
Governor Haley believes the problem is not just Rankin, but the system he is enslaved to. Tourists have stated ongoing on our social, the system embodies greed.
This morning, WRNN News Radio spent the better part of 37 minutes stating that our news team lied when we said their owners had taken millions from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce. I spoke with Liz Callaway after the show aired and informed her that we had records showing Next Media collected $2.2 million from the Chamber of Commerce alone. Next Media was the owner of WRNN when the tax was first put in place. Debbie Harwell, a WRNN radio personality of the era, sat on the Chamber of Commerce Board of Directors.
MyrtleBeachSC.com doubts Governor Haley is surprised that no local news has broadcast any part of the process of this tax extension. Myrtle Beach has seen no coverage since the process started last February 25, 2016. (Except coverage by our team)
Two local voters I spoke with today felt the lack of news coverage and the heavy handed way this law was passed unfair. One said , “This certainly is not democracy.” Oddly, he asked me to please not quote his name for fear of retaliation and being “black listed” by the Chamber of Commerce.
In regards to the monies received by her station’s previous corporate team, Liz said, “Regardless of the monies, the funds we get from the Chamber of Commerce in no way affects the way I personally cover the news.”
When I spoke with Brandon Herring, Morning Personality on WBTW, yesterday, he said those same words practically verbatim. Both said they were not aware of the process at the State House concerning the $300 million local tax extension.
Will Folks, of internet News FITSNEWS posted today, Myrtle Beach’s Tourism Economy Is Going To Die
There was a time in American history when few would source internet news to get the clearest perspective on truth. Despite all comments made ongoing by local main stream media, MyrtleBeachSC.com finds it personally hard to believe that the money coming from the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce into the coffers of local media has had no role in coverage. Not even a subliminal role? … Perhaps all local media are just that tuned out on how the State House is voting on local matters.
In Myrtle Beach, it is increasingly hard to find the dividing line between local city government and the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.
As I told Liz Callaway today, “If the media thinks so highly of the work of this Chamber of Commerce, why don’t we all agree to give them free Public Service Announcements?” We believe advertising for this concern is unique to any other sponsor. It is hard to find an area of the Myrtle Beach community that does not require some form of coverage of this Chamber of Commerce.
The tourists had no say in this new $300 million tax. The residents did not either. One local asked me by phone, “If the tax was so great, why weren’t we allowed to vote on it?” As before he asked me not to quote him by name. He did not want to upset the Chamber of Commerce. Such is the Myrtle Beach this tax leaves us with.
The only place residents can be heard on this tax is at the District 33 polls this June 14th.
As for city voters wanting a shot at unseating Wayne Gray, John Rhodes, Randall Wallace and Mike Lowder, sadly, they will have to wait until November 2017.