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      Grand Strand could get its own US Congressional district

      The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce held its annual legislative luncheon Tuesday. Lawmakers say they'll be focusing on several issues, including redistricting.

      Next year, the state legislature will redraw the lines for US Congressional Districts, based on shifts in population. State lawmakers believe the Grand Strand will be one of the winners in that process. "South Carolina, by estimates is scheduled to potentially pick up another US House Seat. If that happens, we're in a good position to maybe benefit from that in Horry County," said State Representative Thad Viers, (R) Myrtle Beach.

      It would mean a new district that's centered around the Grand Strand, as opposed to the current district containing Horry, Georgetown and Charleston counties. Horry County may also gain a new house seat in the state legislature and together, those new seats would give the area more clout in Columbia and Washington.

      "It would help us not only convey our message more often, but put us at the table more likely for federal funding, not only for roads but for a lot of other public services as well," said Brad Dean, president of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce.

      Lawmakers say budget cuts, mostly in health care and education, will be a major focus next year. Chamber members say they want lawmakers to try to maintain funding for transportation projects like Interstate 73 and for tourism marketing. "We know it'll be a bleak year for the state budget, but we believe tourism is part of the state's budget solution, not part of the problem. We're hoping they'll protect tourism, education and jobs in the coming year," Dean said.

      Tax issues will also get some attention in the legislature. A survey of chamber members shows they favor eliminating the state corporate income tax and increasing the state gasoline tax.

      The general assembly will re-convene on January 11th of next year.