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Voices. Knowledge. Solutions.

2024 Hometown Legislative Action Day Focuses on Economic Outlook, Civility

City and town officials from across the state came together in Columbia on February 6 for the Municipal Association of South Carolina’s 2024 Hometown Legislative Action Day to receive updates on current legislative issues and visit their legislative delegation at the State House.

Here’s a look at some of the sessions from HLAD. 

Economic outlook

Laura Dawson UllrichFor city and town councils, the ability to plan expenditures and even target new development projects can depend on their ability to understand economic trends and possibilities. Laura Dawson Ullrich, senior regional economist for the Federal Reserve Bank of Richmond’s Charlotte Branch, delivered the keynote address. She discussed the economic situation of the Carolinas in 2023, as well as the possible outcomes of 2024. Ullrich’s presentation and recording are available online

She said that economic growth in 2023 was stronger than many had predicted, with the potential for growth in 2024 appearing promising, and that while uncertainties exist, fears of an impending recession have lessened. 

Ullrich also drew attention to the fact that some metropolitan areas are outperforming other areas economically by significant amounts.

“There are some metro areas like Charlotte, Raleigh or Charleston, that are far outperforming [other] urban areas, and especially rural areas, in terms of economic and population growth, she said. “It is very important for me as an economist to acknowledge that while places like Charleston and Raleigh are on fire in terms of growth, half of the counties in South Carolina and North Carolina are experiencing population declines and employment declines.”

Legislative updates

State HouseGoose Creek Mayor Greg Habib gave the report of the Municipal Association’s legislative committee. The Association’s advocacy team — Scott Slatton, Casey Fields, Joannie Nickel and Erica Wright— then reviewed a huge number of the key issues under debate at the State House.  

In his report, Habib stressed the importance of municipal officials paying careful attention to what is happening at the State House to promote good outcomes for cities and towns, whether by reading the weekly From the Dome to Your Home reports, or listening to the podcasts from the Association’s legislative team

While the Association has an effective advocacy team, Habib said, legislators “need to know that the initiatives and the priorities that they carry over to the State House on our behalf are fully supported and understood by every member in here.” 

In his remarks, Todd Glover, executive director of the Municipal Association of SC, drew attention to several legislative issues receiving careful attention from the Association, including the need for local communities to regulate short-term rental properties on their own. 

“We believe as an Association that you know better about how to regulate short-term rentals for your cities and towns than a one-size-fits-all law,” he said. “We know that tourist-based short-term rentals at Folly Beach may be an entirely different issue than people renting homes in Clemson for football games. It has to be in your purview to make the decisions that fit your cities and towns best.”

Civility and inclusion 

Barbara Blain-BellamyThe Municipal Association has focused on civility in local government for several years now, and the 2024 HLAD was no exception, with city and town leaders reciting the Civility Pledge at the beginning of the meeting. 

Association President and Conway Mayor Barbara Blain-Bellamy connected the idea of civility as the ability to see another person’s point of view with the need to focus on inclusion in municipal government. In Conway, she said, inclusion has taken the form of everything from cultural festivals and sensory-friendly events to inclusive playgrounds to the recently established Mayor’s Youth Advisory Council. 

“This idea of inclusion is one that we all should prioritize as a goal,” Blain-Bellamy said. “We all have work to do. I often wonder as decisions are being made for Conway, who have we not considered? Who have we not heard from? Who is missing at the table? Am I, as an elected official, recognizing everyone I serve?”

Find presentations and recordings from Hometown Legislative Action Day on the Association’s website.