Get educated about the election today!

Posted by: Jason Zacher on Friday, September 5, 2014
With Labor Day behind us, political campaigns from school board to Congress are heating up. That means this is a critical time for your business. You may think that your business is insulated from the machinations of the political process, but you couldn’t be more wrong. “I can’t worry about that,” you say, “I’m more concerned about meeting payroll this Friday.” Fair enough – I understand that. But if the political events of the past 5 years don’t jolt you to action, you should spend a little time thinking back. Since 2009, events have occurred that should bring every business leader out crusading for pro-business candidates at all levels. Remember South Carolina’s unemployment insurance debacle a few years ago that wound up raising rates on many employers? What about Act 388, the bill passed in 2006 that exempts owner-occupied homes from the property taxes that fund school operations? The fight over Workers’ Compensation Reform? The state debate over cutting business property and income taxes? Heard of the Affordable Care Act (ACA)? Whether you support the ACA or not, it changed nearly everything with your employees’ benefits package. Political parties don’t matter much to businesses these days. Factions of both parties promote policies that are potentially hostile to your bottom line. Think beyond the headline-grabbing Congress and come down to your non-partisan school board – is it implementing curriculums and programs that will give your future workforce the knowledge they need to compete? Also beyond Congress, many small businesses need to look toward the General Assembly or County Council for the biggest impact on your business. There’s a lot to think about. Now is the time to think about it so you can take action later to support the candidates that will help your bottom line. Three steps to take today: 1)      Search for your candidates. Go to scvotes.org and find out the state and local districts where you live (be sure to do it that way and not look at an older voter registration card since all political districts changed three years ago). Once you have that information, you can search for the candidates for office. Sample ballots will be available at scvotes.org in the next few weeks. 2)      Google (or Yahoo!, or Bing) the candidate and the office. The more prominent the office, the better chance the candidate has an active website. Most candidates have Facebook pages that not only give you a sense of the candidate’s positions on the issues, but also will announce the candidate’s appearances. 3)      Go to candidate forums or appearances. The more local you get, the more accessible the candidates are to the individual voter. After a party forum or a Rotary Club meeting, most of the candidates will stand around and answer questions until the room is clear – kind of like what you hoped for when you wanted a sports star’s autograph when you were a kid. (And for those of us who live and breathe politics as adults, it’s not a dissimilar passion.) When you find the candidates you want to support, call them. Candidates for office are always looking for support. Most of them will be happy to talk to you and let you know how you can help. And when it comes to how you can help, I’ll cover that in the next blog post. If you’re a member of the Upstate Chamber Coalition, feel free to shoot me an email and I’ll be happy to answer any questions you have about public policy and this fall’s elections.

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