On Tuesday Upstate Chamber Coalition members from all over the Upstate came together to descend on our State’s capitol for our annual Upstate Chamber Coalition Advocacy Day to meet with members of the S.C. House and Senate and to advocate for business needs. New Greenville Chamber CEO and President Carlos Phillips, Greenville Chamber Board Chairman David Lominack, and presidents and members from four other Upstate Chambers including, Anderson, Clemson, Greer, and Spartanburg, spent the day meeting, greeting, and shaping public policy.
11:00 a.m. After the drive down, Chamber Investors were ready to advocate for pro-business reforms (particularly roads and highways) beginning at the 11:00 a.m. Caucus meetings. The House Republicans and Democrats hold separate caucus meetings every Tuesday morning where they talk about what bills will be taken up that week, introduce guests, and strategize on policies. These meetings are open to the public, and they are a good opportunity to talk with House members before they head over to the floor of the Chamber.
12:00 p.m. After leaving the caucus meetings, many headed over to the floor of the Statehouse to get introduced in the House and Senate galleries, watch legislation being debated, and to meet with House members and Senators. Carlos was introduced in the Senate by Senator Ross Turner, accompanied by other members of the Greenville delegation, and was introduced in the House by Majority Leader Bruce Bannister. The Lobby of the Statehouse was crowded with visiting groups, staff, and lobbyists, but many were able to send notes into the chambers and call out members from their delegations. Even with the advent of text messaging, pages will still hand deliver notes from those in the lobby to members in the chamber. The Senate continued its debate on ethics reform, while the House passed a number of smaller resolutions and bills.
2:30 p.m. In the afternoon, UCC members had the time to schedule individual meetings, sit in on committee hearings, and several chambers reserved rooms in the House office building to allow members from their delegations to drop in. The drop-in’s provided many House members and Senators to schedule time to meet with our UCC members around their committee meetings. Much of this time was spent discussing UCC priorities like infrastructure funding, ethics reform, and reforms that cut red tape for businesses in the Upstate. While not all of our House members and Senators always vote in a business-friendly manner, many that disagree are still willing to discuss issues and try to find solutions on issues. One of the many benefits of this day is to have civil discourse with members on either sides of the aisle to find real solutions to problems facing the business community.
5:00p.m. The day wrapped up with a reception for the Coalition’s eight legislative delegations and UCC chamber members at First Citizen’s Café, in the heart of downtown Columbia. We’ve found that food and drink go a long way in allowing people to meet-and-greet in a more laidback atmosphere, and the reception was a great opportunity for chamber members to get to know their legislators. Over the course of the reception, three fourths of our legislators in our Upstate delegations dropped in to meet with members and discuss policy.
That’s a Wrap
Upstate Chamber Coalition Advocacy Day is more than an opportunity to get out of the Upstate for a day (who’d want to do that anyways?), and more than an opportunity to take in the Interstate 26 scenery (also questionable). Coalition Advocacy Day is important because:
- It shows our Representatives and Senators that we are committed to shaping public policy in a way that allows businesses to succeed,
- Allows chamber members to see the legislative process first-hand
- Allows chamber members to thank their members for their dedicated service to the Upstate, and, most importantly,
- Shows that the business community is watching.
A special thanks to our sponsor, GSP International Airport, and all of our UCC members that made our 2nd annual UCC Advocacy Day at the Statehouse a success! If you have more questions about UCC Advocacy Day, or would like to reserve your spot for next year, please contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org.