Chamber holds legislative breakfast

Local politicians were cracking jokes about as fast as the City Club kitchen staff could crack the eggs for breakfast last week.

"We've got some real non-controversial issues coming up in the General Assembly," joked S.C. Sen. Wes Hayes, R-Rock Hill, during the York County Regional Chamber of Commerce Legislative Breakfast last Tuesday. "First, we've got a cigarette tax. Then we've got an immigration bill, third is a bill on payday lenders."

Hayes and members of the York County Legislative Delegation spoke for about an hour to a full house at the City Club of Rock Hill. The officials offered an overview of what to expect from Columbia next year pertaining to the business community and fielded questions from the audience.

Hayes said to expect a 30- to 45-cent increase on the seven-cent per pack cigarette tax. He said the money would go towards health care. But because Republican Gov. Mark Sanford has threatened to veto any tax hike that isn't paired with an equal tax cut, passing the bill will be a challenge.

Rep. Gary Simrill, R-Rock Hill, couldn't resist taking a shot at Sanford. "We have a Democrat-leaning Senate, a Republican House of Representatives and a Libertarian governor," he quipped to a round of applause. "We have a three-party system at work within our state walls."

Simrill kept the one-liners going when asked why recent sales tax changes resulted in no tax on a raw hamburger patty at the grocery store, a 7 percent tax at a convenience store and a 9 percent tax on a cooked burger from a restaurant.

"I'd go with the zero percent," Simrill quipped. "It sounds like you were in the county one time, the city another and then a grocery store. I'd enjoy the one that gets you the lowest."

In addition to the cigarette tax, Hayes said a bill that would make it tougher to hire undocumented immigrant workers and one that would enact stricter rules for payday lenders also will be on the agenda in coming months. He commended York County Sheriff Bruce Bryant for sending arrested illegal immigrants to federal authorities.

Debbie Carrothers, the Southeastern regional manager for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, said at the national level lawmakers have accomplished little to impact business this year. She said a record number of roll call votes have been taken, but only 90 laws have been enacted, and many of those were to fund the war in Iraq and to name bridges, roads and buildings.

"Not much else has been passed of much substance," Carrothers said. "The Senate has been the Filibuster of the Month Club. They've been doing a lot up there, but they're not getting a lot done."

Freightliner workers to visit York County

Keep an eye out for Pacific Northwesterners around York County in the coming weeks. More than 100 Freightliner employees will be visiting the area in December as part of a "look-see" visit, a source said. Freightliner, the nation's largest truck maker, recently announced plans to move its sales and marketing division from its headquarters in Portland, Ore., to a large parcel of land off S.C. 274 in the Lake Wylie area. The move may be the first step towards relocating the company's headquarters here.

The visits are designed to let Freightliner employees look around York County so they can decide if they'll be willing to relocate with the company. The first wave will total about 340 jobs.

Workers unproductive almost one-third of the day

Employers are paying workers to be unproductive about 70 days a year, according to a new study recently released by New York-based Proudfoot Consulting. The study, compiled from four years of performance reviews, states American workers waste about 29 percent of their time on the job, costing employers a total of $658 billion annually.

Poor supervision is the leading cause for wasted time, the study reports.

Etc. ...

Best wishes to Dennis Stuber, senior vice-president of First Citizens Bank in Rock Hill. Stuber, a longtime Rock Hill banker, will be moving to Camden to take a similar position with First Citizens. He said his replacement will be named by the end of the year.

Kudos to Rock Hill native Robin Adkins. The 1999 Miss Rock Hill was recently named one of Tampa Bay's "30 Under 30" by the Tampa Bay Business Journal. Adkins, 29, the owner of Relations: Public Relations and Marketing, was selected by the publication from a field of 117 nominees under the age of 30 for being a "rising star" in the Tampa business community. Adkins is the daughter of Bill and Debra Adkins and a 2000 graduate of Winthrop University.

You've probably tasted organic fruits and veggies. You've likely seen the new organic soaps and household cleaners retailers are selling. But now you can go a step further and purchase an organic day at the spa. Christy Griffin, owner of Fort Mill's Belle Vive Spa and Wellness Center, recently attended a training session to learn how to use Eminence, an organic line of European beauty and skin care products. Now, she and estheticians Laura Claxton and Laurie Lanza are using the products at Belle Vive.