COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - On the last day of session, Senators continued their debate on a bill that advocates say would help lure the Carolina Panthers to South Carolina.
House Majority Leader and Representative Gary Simrill (R-York) watched closely as senators prepared to vote on the Professional Sports Team Investment Act (H.4243).
The Senate voted 27-15 to move forward with the legislation.
Rep. Simrill said, “I’m glad we didn’t fumble that opportunity and we scored a touchdown today.”
Supporters of the bill like Governor Henry McMaster said the Carolina Panthers would bring billions of dollars of economic impact to the state.
The bill would create millions of dollars in tax breaks for a professional sports team. Which concerned Senator Dick Harpootlian (D-Richland) and others. “We’ve been misled by the Department of Commerce but I think the lure of the NFL overcame the concerns of the majority of the Senate.”
Rep. Simrill said he was cautiously optimistic every step of the way. “We never took our eye off the ball for what the Panthers could be for South Carolina and what they will be for South Carolina.”
Sen. Harpootlian said the bill moving forward was disappointing but believes lawmakers will take a closer look at these types of economic ventures. “The victory today is this – I had a number of senators who voted for the bill come forward and tell me going forward we need to change how these deals are done and need more transparency.”
He said he’s planning drafting legislation this summer to do exactly that. He also said at the end of the day he hopes the deal is as good as others are claiming it will be. “Somehow an NFL practice facility will blossom into what they have in Dallas. I think that is pure malarkey.”
Rep. Simrill has high hopes. “We’ll look back now years to come and realize what a great move this was.”
The Panthers tweeted this on Thursday:
The Governor is expected to sign this bill into law once it gets to his desk. A conference committee between Senators and Representatives might need to hammer out some final details before it gets there.