Bill could make business license info secret

Have you ever wondered about a business that has filed an application to open in your area? Business license applications are available to be examined by the public. But that could change.

[Last week], the S.C. House of Representatives debated H4431 which is known as the “South Carolina Business License Tax Standardization Act.”

The bill makes changes to the process in which businesses file for business licenses. This bill would also prevent anyone from receiving any information about a business that has applied for a business license.

The original bill that was filed contained an addition to S.C. Code of Laws Section 6-1-120 that would make the business license application “not subject to” the Freedom of Information Act under Section 5(D) of the original bill. The Labor, Commerce and Industry committee introduced a committee report that would strike the old bill and insert new language.

A part of this new language includes a similar provision that would eliminate the public’s right to see who has filed for a business license. Under H4431’s new language, the “taxing jurisdiction may not share or disclose any information relating to business license tax applications with any third party.”

State Rep. Craig Gagnon, R-Abbeville, a member of the House Labor, Commerce, & Industry committee, explained that it’s “not the perfect bill, but it seems to be the bill” the House of Representatives is going to pursue under the time constraint of meeting the cross-over deadline. The House of Representatives must pass bills and send them over to the Senate by a certain time in the session for a vote and in order to become law.

Publishers Note: On Friday, Feb. 28, the bill received third and final reading to become law. Contact staff writer James Hicks at 864-943-5650 or on Twitter @jameshicks3.