Senators push vote on Panthers bill to final day of legislative session

The bill would give tax breaks to professional sports teams to move to South Carolina

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO) — Lawmakers deferred a possible vote on a bill granting tax breaks to sports teams if they decide to move their headquarters to South Carolina to Thursday, the last day of the legislative session.

Having a professional sports team like the Carolina Panthers call South Carolina home is a dream Gov. Henry McMaster (R-SC) says he would like to come true.

“That would be a big step forward in our economic growth and prosperity. That means jobs, that means strong families, good education. So the progress the Senate is making is terrific,” Gov. McMaster said.

That doesn’t mean the bill is in the end zone just yet.

As lawmakers keep going back and forth, Panthers owner David Tepper says the tax breaks will be a game changer in order for him to move his team to the Palmetto State.

“We’d like to be there. Hopefully they help us out there. I could be in a bubble and a cafeteria in Charlotte too, so it’s up to them,” Tepper said.

Senators are going to have a third reading of the bill take place on the Senate floor, which will pave the way for a debate and potentially a vote.

After speaking out against the bill in a twenty minute speech Tuesday, Senator Dick Harpootlian (D-Richland County) says by pushing the bill to a vote, his colleagues are overlooking big issues with the bill, like the need to build a new I-77 interchange.

“There are many other needs in the state of South Carolina that are more appropriate and are more needed by the taxpayers than an interchange so the Carolina Panthers can get to practice quicker,” Sen. Harpootlian said.

As talks linger, Gov. McMaster says he wants his Senators to come together and seal the deal.

“The House has done it’s part. They did it in record time. Now we want the Senate to finish it up,” Gov. McMaster said.

The Senate will hear a third reading of the bill Thursday, opening the floor to debate and possibly leading to a final vote. 

If the bill is passed, Tepper says he would start construction on the new York County facility later this year.

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