76
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      I-73 remains top Myrtle Beach Chamber legislative priority

      Gaining an interstate highway connection for the Grand Strand is still a top legislative priority for Grand Strand business leaders.

      The Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce gave its 2012 wish list to state lawmakers Thursday and it has a familiar look.

      Once again, one of the chamber's top priorities is state support for Interstate 73. While it will take mostly federal funds to get the interstate built, local business leaders say they still want to make sure state lawmakers are fully behind the project.

      "We have to have and need our local delegation and we need the state support, the total state support. So as long as the feds know that our entire state supports it, it really helps at our efforts," said Mark Lazarus, who heads the chamber's legislative committee.

      Other familiar items on the chamber's legislative wish list include continuing the two-for-one matching grant program for tourism promotion and expanding South Carolina seaports, including dredging the port in Georgetown.

      This year, the chamber is also calling for elimination of the state corporate income tax. One local lawmaker says he's inclined to support that idea.

      "I need to look at the specifics. But anytime we can be more attractive to businesses wanting to invest their capital and to hire people in South Carolina, we need to do so," said Rep. Thad Viers (R, Socastee).

      Viers said he knows some people will want the legislature to consider things like a statewide smoking ban or limits on texting while driving. But he said lawmakers should concentrate on the big picture items.

      "We need to look at the way our government spends money, taxes its citizens and puts regulation on businesses and that should be the focus and not some of these side issues."

      Other priorities for the chamber this year include funding for beach renourishment and for adequate maintenance of the Atlantic Intracoastal Waterway.

      One new item on the agenda this year is support for improvements in TSA screening at airports to ease the flow of traffic without inhibiting security. ne new item on the agenda this year is support for improvements in TSA screening at airports to ease the flow of traffic without inhibiting security.

      The next South Carolina legislative session begins January 10.

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