COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) — According to the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce they hope lawmakers pass COVID-19 liability protection for businesses and a hate crime bill in 2021.

They released their ‘competitiveness agenda‘ Monday. The agenda is made up of some of the initiatives they are back in 2021.

Chairman Tim Arnold said, “COVID-19 liability protection remains one of the top priorities for our businesses large and small.”

The state Chamber of Commerce said expanding rural broadband and reforming property taxes are ways to improve the business climate in South Carolina. They also said another way for lawmakers to help the business community is to pass a state hate crime bill. Interim CEO Swati Patel said, “We know businesses care about this issue and we do think it impacts our competitiveness and the way companies look at South Carolina.”

They can’t say if South Carolina has missed out on business opportunities because of the lack of a state hate crime law over the years, but they said it’s something businesses are keeping a close eye on.

Patel said, “Valuing diversity and inclusion I think is important for companies and I think they will factor that in. So we do think it’s important for economic development.”

A bipartisan hate crime bill is expected to be filed in the House this week. Some lawmakers have told us they believe it has a chance at passing. Critics of this type of legislation have said in the past there is no need for a state law since a federal one is already in place.

Patel said, “We are actively speaking with state Senators as well and explaining to them why this is a priority for businesses this year.”

Arkansas and Wyoming are the two other states without a hate crime law on the books.