updated March 4
The 11th floor lobby of the S.C. Chamber of Commerce is modern, comfortable and quiet. But if you listened carefully over by the window on Tuesday morning, you’d hear a little noise from a crowd equipped with signs, a megaphone and chants of “shame on the chamber.”
Tea party groups lined the sidewalk in front of the chamber’s Gervais St. headquarters to protest the chamber’s position on a proposal by Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort. Davis’ amendment to a bill to nullify the Affordable Care Act would thwart the implementation of the bill in S.C.
The chamber, which opposed the ACA from the onset, has let go of the issue since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled the Act was constitutional. The chamber maintains that pushing for what they call an unconstitutional fight for nullification creates an unstable business environment. “Businesses need a stable environment to operate in,” said spokeswoman Julie Scott.
But for one Aiken businessman it’s the health care law that is creating the instability. Chairman of the Aiken Tea Party, Mike Stake said he can’t afford to expand his business consulting operation. “I thought [the chamber] were here to protect us,” said Stake.
And for many, the court’s ruling on constitutionality doesn’t settle the debate. Challenging the chamber’s position and, by extension, President Otis Rawl, Jesse Graston said, “has he ever read a history book? Has he ever heard of the 10th Amendment?” The 10th Amendment addresses state sovereignty.
Graston is a field coordinator with the John Birch Society.
But others question the constitutionality of the state legislation. On the other side of the Statehouse, Truthful Tuesday protesters blocked the entrance to the garage where state workers park. That social justice movement has been calling for public officials to expand Medicaid. Organizers said at least 10 protesters were arrested Tuesday, which was their intent.
Loreen Myerson, of the Progressive Network, said she thinks the nullification bill is unconstitutional and would make it hard for her to do her job. On behalf of the group Myerson relies on connections within the state to help those who need it get health care.
If it succeeds, Davis’s amendment would prevent state workers from implementing the federal health care law. The Senate is set to debate the nullification bill this week.