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      Gas price cap gets mixed reaction at public hearing

      South Carolinians have mixed reactions to a proposal that would cap gas prices in the Palmetto State.

      / FILE

      MYRTLE BEACH (WACH, WPDE ) -- State senators held a public hearing in Myrtle Beach Wednesday night on two bills. More than a dozen people came out to Horry Georgetown Technical College's conference center to hear about the bills that are currently in the Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources committee.

      One bill would increase penalties for theft and destruction of timber and timber products. It's sponsored by State Senator Phillip Shoopman . The other, sponsored by State Senator Dick Elliott , would put a cap on wholesale gas prices.

      You can read the entire bill as proposed here .

      Read more SC lawmaker wants cap on gas prices

      According to, the current average for a gallon of unleaded is $3.34 in the Columbia area. Motorists are paying nearly 90 cents more compared to a year ago.

      Some of those at the meeting tonight had concerns about the bills, among them, Myrtle Beach Mayor John Rhodes.

      "My concern is if you put a cap on the market and North Carolina and Georgia does not put a cap on the market that oil companies might say, 'Well, we're going to sell most of our oil in the other two states," Rhodes said.

      However, here at home, people are interested in learning more about the proposal.

      I think it TMs a good idea, says Columbia resident Joseph Rosier. "Gas is too expensive these days.

      Michael Fields is the executive director of the South Carolina Petroleum Marketers Association and says he's concerned about Sen. Elliott's bill.

      I don't think South Carolina needs to be going down that road, Fields states. When you start telling major oil companies that we are going to cap the price, what incentive do they have to come do business in our state?

      In 2005, Hawaii attempted to control the price motorists paid at the pump, but the first-in-the-nation experiment sputtered to a stop after eight months.

      One study showed the gas cap cost Hawaiian drivers five cents more per gallon.

      Both bills are currently in subcommittee. Elliott expects them to be voted on in this upcoming legislative season.

      For the latest gas prices in your area, check out our Pain at the Pump page.

      What do you think about a proposed cap on wholesale gas prices? Leave your thoughts in our comment section below.

      (WPDE and contributed to this report).