A longtime client decided that it wanted TMPR to take a more active role and instead of legislative monitoring and consulting, we were tasked with active advocacy – lobbying for wholesale change of the section in the state’s Code of Laws that governs this client’s industry.
We approached the state agency that regulates the industry to inform them of our intentions because 1) we didn’t want them to perceive us as working in secret to subvert their regulatory authority and 2) we understood there were items in that section of the Code the agency wanted to change. We felt there was an opportunity to form a working relationship and create legislation supported jointly by the regulating agency and the regulated industry.
After a series of meetings, the agency agreed to partner in an effort to overhaul laws overseeing the industry.
With an initial proposal and 15 draft versions in the rearview mirror, both stakeholders finally had a legislative proposal they were ready to submit.
Initially, sponsors in the House and Senate took the bill and tried to expedite it through the committee process because we introduced it during the second year of the General Assembly’s two-year session, and time was limited. Unfortunately, a series of issues out of anyone’s control halted the legislation’s progress – including rougher than normal winter weather that actually caused the legislature to close for two weeks.
The industry and the agency felt that too much work had gone in to the bill to allow it to die without another effort, so TMPR spent the six month “off-session” securing additional sponsors and getting the bill ready to reintroduce for the next two-year session.
The bill was filed again, and as one Senate member noted during floor debate of the second year, “If we don’t get this done this year, this industry will die in South Carolina.” This time, it passed the House and Senate, was signed by the governor, and a Code section that was last updated in the mid-1980s was completely overhauled.
As a result, state regulations governing an entire industry were updated to address modern issues, and an industry that would have largely vanished in the state received new life that allows it to operate more freely, more fairly, and in a way that now breeds competition with the same industry in neighboring states.