Monday, December 29, 2008

A year's worth of thanks

In keeping with my promise of little or no politics over the holidays, I want this column to be something of a thank-you to all the good folks who have contributed to my efforts to represent District 118 in an effective manner. I don’t do this as often as I should because usually there is some pressing issue that this column needs to address.

Obviously, my most serious gratitude is reserved for my caring and patient wife, Mary. There are so many times I have to leave our family time to help a constituent or rush up to Columbia for an urgent strategy session. Mary is much more tolerant than I would probably be if our situations were reversed, which, of course, they might be o­ne day.

Cathy and the legislative staff do a tremendous job of keeping up with the communications part of my job. They make sure that your calls; letters, emails and appointments are handled in a professional and efficient manner. o­n average, they deal with at least 300 contacts a week, and during busy times in session, it may be twice that number.

My friend, Jacob Preston has helped pull the column together every week for six years. I take seriously my commitment to provide you with the most up-to-date and accurate legislative information. Consequently, I generate a ton of content each week. Jacob helps me schedule and prioritize what you ultimately read in the 600 or so words you hear from me every Monday. No matter how heated the politics get in Columbia, Jacob makes sure, at least, all my subjects and verbs agree.

There is also a worker bee in Bluffton (Moss Creek), who wishes to remain anonymous, who assures that the web site, www.herbkersman.com, is the best in the General Assembly. It is an archive of my past opinions, achievements, and even a record of where I may have fallen short of the mark from time to time. It also has a load of cool South Carolina stuff. Check it out-- nearly all my legislative colleagues have.

When I have needed counsel o­n law enforcement and judicial matters, Solicitor Stone, Sheriff Tanner and Bluffton Police Chief McAllister have been available, forthcoming and outstanding.

I want to thank Bill Miles, President and CEO, and Chris Long, VP for political action, of the Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. They have done great service in our struggle to attract good jobs to the Lowcountry, not to mention their recent efforts o­n behalf of the Waddell Marine Research Facility in Greater Bluffton. (Note: I am floating a name change for this outstanding facility, to more accurately reflect its function).

I also want to thank, in advance, our outstanding Beaufort County delegation. We have not always faced our challenges as a unified, effective force. But with the addition of Senator Davis, and Rep Erickson coming into her own, with Reps. Chalk and Hodges in strong support, I’m confident we will begin an era of legislative achievement o­n the first day of the new session.

Mostly, however, I am grateful for the continued confidence and support I get from you, the citizens and taxpayers of District 118. I hear from you an average of 300 times a week, year in and year out. There are a few complaints, but mostly it is advice and encouragement. You always make me proud to be your representative. Thank you. I won’t let you down

Monday, December 22, 2008

Tax cuts would help holidays

It’s coming down to the last few days before Christmas, and Mary and I are consciously focusing our time and efforts o­n family and friends. This season is primarily a religious holiday that also happens to have a big social component. We are blessed with healthy children and a vigorous, large extended family, as well as a group of the best friends imaginable. Gratitude is the foundation of all our festivity.

Not a lot of political ferment during this special time. I did, however, have a good conversation with my fellow Rotarians this past week. They always help me put things in a proper perspective. It may be true of all Rotarians, but my Rotary group is made up of some of the most generous, civically engaged, tirelessly philanthropic folks I have ever had the privilege of knowing.

There is also a tremendous reservoir, within the group, of economic common sense. Out of last week’s get-together, there were a few points of consensus that I have taken to heart, which I will share with you: While we are in a serious economic downturn, recessions are not corrected by tax increases. If anything, tax cuts are called for, wherever possible. Secondly, the o­nly sure way out of a recession is to grow out of it. This means preserve the jobs we have and create more jobs as soon as we can.

Ben Bernanke and Hank Paulson would do well to attend a few Rotary meetings.

As it happens, the next economic stimulus from the feds is probably coming in the form of infrastructure spending. Our state has more than its share of roads to be built and bridges to be rebuilt, not to mention water and sewer projects to be completed. Many of these projects will be managed at the county and municipal level. I have been in consultation with Beaufort County Council Chairman Weston Newton and County Councilman Jerry Stewart regarding our most promising infrastructure possibilities. I’ve also talked with Bluffton Mayor Hank Johnston and Mayor-elect Lisa Sulka regarding which projects they might consider "shovel ready."

My view, shared with many of the leaders of area government and commerce, is that jobs created in both the public and private sectors will ultimately return our economy to soundness. January will find us with a new federal administration as well as a new session of the General Assembly. I look forward to doing my part in this great work.

For today, let’s do what we can to take care of o­ne another. Jenny Haney at Bluffton Self Help could certainly use your help. Down times make for a bigger need for their services. If you have a good coat you aren’t wearing, donate it to Outside Hilton Head for their coat drive. And at the risk of sounding like your momma, please don’t have that extra cup of eggnog without a designated driver.

Finally, from Mary and I, and Cathy and the legislative staff, and all the good folks over here at the Promenade, please have a merry Christmas and a happy and safe holiday.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Local Legislators Gain Some Plumb Appointments

Last week, there was some discussion of my appointment to the House Ways and Means Committee. This is, in truth, a pretty big deal, especially for a member beginning his seventh year of tenure in the legislature. It’s also been some time since we had anyone from Beaufort County o­n this committee. The last time Beaufort County had representation o­n this all-important budgeting body was in 1992 when the highly respected Harriet Keyserling from Beaufort held a seat. I am humbled and gratified that both the speaker and chairman Dan Cooper (R-Anderson Co) expressed their confidence in me with this appointment.

There is further good news in that my good friend and hardworking ally; Representative Shannon Erickson from Beaufort has made the extraordinary step up to the Labor, Commerce and Industry (LCI) Committee. o­nce again, the Beaufort County delegation has been lifted up with a plum assignment. This is, no doubt, a recognition of the tremendous work ethic we have all seen in Representative Erickson. She is smart, tenacious, and creative, and is now well placed to help bring good jobs to Beaufort County. This is particularly important with our friend, Tom Davis, heading to the Senate. As many of you know, Tom was instrumental in working out many of the kinks in the process that brought the Jasper Port agreement to fruition.

The division of labor within the delegation is shaping up to give us a lot of coverage across the entire spectrum of legislative activity. This is made more plain as both Curtis Brantley from Jasper County and Richard Chalk from Hilton Head return to Medical, Military and Municipal Affairs (3M) and my friend Ken Hodges from Beaufort is tapped to serve o­n Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee.

If the legislative session could be likened to a baseball game, Beaufort County scored some runs in the first inning.

Many of you called with congratulations after reading the press release from the South Carolina Chiropractic Association that named your representative the 2008 Legislator of the Year. I am a big believer in using all our tools, both traditional and non-traditional, in securing the best health outcomes for the fewest dollars. You may remember I was the National Legislator of the Year for the Oriental Medical Association in 2006.

Judging from all the activity as Carey Wandall’s Yoga Studio in Old Town Bluffton, I’m not the o­nly o­ne interested in a more holistic approach to good health. We are fortunate to have Carey in our community, as she is a rising star in the Yoga world. She is not o­nly an excellent teacher and practitioner; she is a teacher of teachers.

In closing, I want to remind you to visit the web site, www.Herbkersman.com. Not o­nly will you get a sense of the issues coming up in the 2009 session, there are a raft of cool links and informational goodies. If they still taught civics in high school, it would also be an excellent resource for research papers and reports. As it is, surf by and take a look, you will be pleasantly surprised (and informed).

Monday, December 8, 2008

Beaufort County Now Has 'A Seat at the Table'

By any measure, the Bluffton Christmas Parade was a resounding success. The after-parade event was also a fitting completion to a great day. It was a pleasure to see all the families out and about, enjoying the festivities. Adding to the celebration in the Promenade, my neighbor Patty, at Pottery in Paradise, did more than her share to put together fun activities for the kids of all ages. She has become, in a relatively short time, a true Bluffton asset.

The Organizational Session of the General Assembly last week produced some good news and some bad news. The bad news is that we are officially in recession. This is from the state economist, Dr. Gillespie. While this may not be a startling revelation to most of us, especially in the business community, Dr. Gillespie also shared that he had never seen economic indicators quite so vivid as we now have. Apparently, we entered the recession around December of 2007, but were spared the most serious symptoms until fairly recently, when the bottom dropped out of employment, as well as tax revenues.

The economic forecasting business is not a precise science, but there are some relatively good things working in our favor. Interest rates o­n mortgages have dropped below 5.5 percent and could go lower if the feds use some of the tools they are currently considering. Also, the price of oil has moderated considerably, with implications for home heating over the winter and for transportation costs. The good Dr. pointed out that recessions, especially bad o­nes, have a tendency to reverse rather dramatically as they come to an end. As to when that time might arrive, he was not willing to say.

In the meantime, I want to encourage you to spend your dollars, to the extent possible, in the local economy. Buy from your neighbors so they can afford to return the favor. This thing will end sooner or later, and we will be glad we supported o­ne another during the down times.

The good news I promised is this: your representative has been appointed to Ways and Means Committee. This doesn’t mean that the dump trucks will be backing up to unload tons of cash in Beaufort County anytime soon. What it does mean is that your issues and your concerns are being articulated closer to the center of influence in Columbia. We have a seat at the table. At the very least, this means that our status as a donor county will be diminished somewhat. More of our tax dollars will come home to Beaufort County.

While I am the senior member of our delegation, I am o­nly beginning my seventh year in the legislature. This tenure is relatively brief in the House and usually would not merit a Ways and Means appointment. Because our delegation does not have much seniority, I have had to work, out of necessity, with other legislators to accomplish what we have done. I credit that cooperative spirit, as well as a modest talent in creating professional and personal relationships with colleagues, for this appointment.

Next week, a little more about my appointment and a lot more about other members of our delegation, as far as committee appointments are concerned. You will be pleased at how the delegation is shaping up. We have some good people who are assuming positions, balanced across the spectrum of committees, with real potential to do great things for the home folks.

Monday, December 1, 2008

Treat Yourself to a Unique Bluffton Bash This Weekend

I sincerely hope your Thanksgiving holiday was what you wanted it to be. Mary and I are both very serious about celebrating the holiday and giving thanks for our blessings, particularly having to do with family, both immediate and extended. In that spirit, I would like to dedicate most of this column to our Bluffton family and how we, as a community, are helping each other to enjoy this important time of year.

Regardless of faith or denomination, we are instructed to care for o­ne another, to lift up the needy, and spread the joy. To that end, I want to remind you that our friends at the Bluffton Fire District are putting o­n their 4th Annual Boston Butt Fundraiser at Tanger Outlet o­ne, o­n the food court. Please call Crystal at 757-1948 before Dec. 5 to order your Boston Butt, which can be picked up Dec. 12. Not o­nly will you get some spectacular dining, the proceeds go to support the brave, three-year-old Olivia Custer, in her struggle with Mitochondrial Defect.

On the celebration front, don’t forget that Saturday is the famous Bluffton Christmas Parade. If you have not experienced o­ne of these events, you are in for quite a treat. In addition, the Bluffton Old Town Merchant’s Society is holding a Post Parade Party around the entire Old Town from 1 til 4. This is your opportunity to support the local merchants as well as have a great time. Santa will be riding the Holly Jolly Trolley around the Old Town providing photo-ops for kids of all ages. Myrtles Restaurant and the Downtown Deli will be serving food along Calhoun Street, and Scott’s Meats, Sippin Cow, Squat and Gobble, and Cora Bett Thomas Realty will be serving food and drink along May River Road.

Thomas Viljak’s Carson Cottages o­n Calhoun Street will be hosting a Christmas tree raising and lighting, with an chance for kids to decorate ornaments for the tree. Also, Amos Hummell is back in Bluffton with a new gallery space and a performance of his "Living Color" troup. And if that were not enough, there will be caroling with Sarah Ghys directing, and Tommy Beaumont o­n keyboards.

Bluffton Self Help o­n May River Road will be collecting unwrapped new toys, as well as donations. Let’s all help with the great work they do.

This Saturday will be a full day of family-friendly fun. I hope to see a tremendous turnout for the parade, and an equally tremendous turnout for the party. Bluffton needs to not o­nly celebrate the season, we need to celebrate ourselves and what we have created here is this lovely corner of the Lowcountry.

I will be in Columbia most of the week for our annual organizational session of the General Assembly. This is important as committee assignments are made and agenda items of the various caucuses are set. I will be back, of course, for the parade and the party afterwards.

Next week, I will be back with legislative business, as well as some interesting announcements.

Monday, November 24, 2008

Even in Tough Times, There Is Much to be Thankful For

Last week we covered the high spots of the Waddell Mariculture Center get-together, which was a big part of the Coastal Caucus event. It was a big success and Al Stokes and his crew will benefit from the increased understanding among my legislative colleagues as to the tremendous contribution this excellent facility makes to our state’s economy.

The balance of the meeting was held at the Westin Resort o­n Hilton Head Island, with major sponsorship from the Board of Realtors and the Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. We had a lively group of over 150 interested participants. They were involved in several discussions having to do with issues of funding disparity between high growth coastal areas, principally Beaufort and Charleston counties, and the rest of the state. We went over strategies for addressing education funding, as well as an increasingly serious problem with mental health funding disparity.

With the room full of real estate professionals, the main issue of the day was, of course, point of sale reassessment. This was a measure that made some sense when real estate prices were escalating rapidly, but has had the unintended consequence of further depressing the already abysmal real estate sales environment, now that growth has stalled.

I think it is important for the real estate professionals and the community at large to understand that the House of Representatives voted 104 to 0 to reverse the point of sale provision. Unfortunately, this crucial measure stalled in the Senate. The debate in the House fully illuminated the seriousness of the housing debacle, with its implications for the wider economy. We responded immediately with a common sense measure to take this burden off the housing market.

The Senate, however, has rules that allow a very few members to hold up legislation, regardless of the urgency of the need or the dire consequences of inaction. This time, three people held a good portion of the state’s economy hostage for reasons that this legislator found to be without merit. Needless to say, we will take another whack at point of sale in the new year.

Locally, our friends at the Bluffton Township Fire District at putting o­n their 4th Annual Boston Butt Fundraiser at Tanger Outlet o­ne o­n the food court. Please call Crystal at 757-1948 before December 5 to order your Boston Butt, which can be picked up December 12. Not o­nly are we in for some spectacular dining, the proceeds go to support the brave, three-year-old Olivia Custer, in her struggle with Mitochondrial Defect. Bluffton takes care of its own.

One final note o­n the political front: This is the time of year when we in the House are contending for positions o­n the various committees and sub-committees. The Beaufort County delegation needs at least o­ne member o­n Judiciary and o­ne o­n Ways and Means. Currently, I serve o­n Judiciary but am rallying hard for Ways and Means. If the delegation can come up with a good committee distribution, our ability to bring our tax dollars back home will be vastly enhanced. This is important during good times, but essential during challenging times. I will keep you posted.

Please have a safe and happy Thanksgiving, remembering that even with our current troubles, we still have much for which to be grateful. Give thanks.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Waddell Meeting Lends Hope For Mariculture Center's Future

From my comments in the last several columns, you probably gathered that a lot was riding o­n the Coastal Caucus meetings last weekend at the Waddell Mariculture Center in Greater Bluffton and at the Westin Resort o­n Hilton Head Island. I am happy to report that the event was a resounding success despite sky-high expectations and a touch of Friday evening rain. In fact, the meetings were so well attended and the programs so well presented, that the bar has been reset for the next get-together to an altogether unrealistic height.

My special thanks go to Hilton Head Island Chamber of Commerce president and CEO Bill Miles, his VP for government affairs, Chris Long, as well as chamber logistics specialist Anna Cauthen, for their flawless planning and execution. Some things just have to be left to the pros.

And speaking of pros, Dr. Chris March and Friends of the Rivers board chairman Dave Harter gave a presentation that was easily the high point of the Friday evening portion of the meeting. Dr. Marsh is head of the Lowcountry Institute, as well as the Port Royal Sound Conservancy, and as such, is more than passing familiar with all the features of our local watersheds that account for their pristine beauty and unsurpassed productivity. As head of the Hilton Head Island Sportfishing Club, Dave Harter can speak passionately and persuasively about how our local waters support a thriving and diverse fishery that, in turn, attracts anglers worldwide to visit our area and support our local economy.

Together, Chris and Dave make it perfectly clear that doing the right things to protect our natural assets is more than just protecting our cultural heritage; it is also supporting a huge fraction of our state’s economy. Their explanation of the role of the Waddell Mariculture Center in both groundbreaking research and fisheries management should aid my task of securing dependable and appropriate funding for the Bluffton physical plant, as well as the overall mission of this state of the art facility.

It didn’t hurt that the presentation was given o­n the high bluff overlooking the Colleton-Okatie River, with a spectacular view of Spring Island and Port Royal Sound in the distance.

One of the persistent themes of my legislative career has been that we need to treat our pristine Lowcountry environment with care and respect. Not o­nly is it the foundation of our quality of life, it is the bedrock of our economy. If we shortchange the protection of our natural resources, we are sabotaging the ability of our taxpayers to make a decent living, not to mention denying them the life affirming benefits of living in the pristine Lowcountry.

Hearing those powerful presentations in such a gorgeous setting will help the many members of the General Assembly in attendance to appreciate the wisdom and prudence of good stewardship. We all know the truth of this proposition, but sometimes it helps to be reminded.

Next time, a few thoughts o­n the Westin Resort portion of the caucus meeting.

Monday, November 10, 2008

Council Candidates Should Tone Down A Little

The bulk of the elections are behind us and I want to get back to the people’s business as soon as possible. The o­ne election locally that is apparently not done is the Bluffton Town Council race. I believe it will be rerun as a result of a series of voting mix-ups that disenfranchised a number of our residents. I want to respectfully request that some of the candidates dial back the rhetoric a notch or two. At the end of this process, we are all going to have to work together, and some of the language I am hearing is disappointingly inflammatory.

Tomorrow will be our first delegation meeting in quite a while. It will also be the first meeting with our new senator-elect, Tom Davis, in attendance. I have worked with Tom for many years, as he was the chief of staff for Gov. Sanford until he undertook the race for the state senate from District 46. He survived a tough primary and went o­n to run a classy campaign against a game opponent in the general election. We all looking forward to having Tom o­n the delegation team, and expect great things from this smart, dedicated public servant.

Also, tomorrow is Veteran’s Day. Please seek out the veterans in our community and recognize them for their service. I personally don’t think we can overstate the debt of gratitude we owe to these men and women. Our recent election, with all its rancor and emotion, was made possible by the sacrifices of veterans starting a couple of hundred years ago. Our rights to choose our leaders, to speak our minds, to practice our religions without interference, and to live in a decent, prosperous society are the result, in no small part, of the courage and sacrifice of our veterans. We won’t forget.

As always, the Sun City Veterans are going all out for Veterans Day. They are holding their community appreciation tomorrow from 10:30 to 11:30. There will be a flyover by F-18 fighter jets, and the address will be given by retired U S Army Major General Larry Budge.

Be aware that American Legion Post 205 is having their Veteran’s Day Golf Tournament at Old Carolina Golf Club. The format is a nine-hole two-person scramble, and should be very interesting. Call Old Carolina Golf Club for details.

New this year, Hampton Hall and Toll Brothers have donated 240 rounds of golf o­n their excellent Pete Dye golf course to active duty or retired military personnel. All this week, just call the Hampton Hall Pro Shop at 815-8720 and make a reservation with military identification. They will also be serving drinks and snacks at the clubhouse after the golf outing. The cart fee is not included.

Let’s hope that the good example set by Hampton Hall is followed by other developers with high level amenities they might make available to our brave military.

Next week, I will have a report o­n the Coastal Caucus event at the Waddell Mariculture Center. We will not o­nly be talking about this critical facility, but also the need’s of the coastal area, in terms of roads, education and environmental dollars. This meeting has been a long time coming, and will feature much of the best of the Lowcountry.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Understand What's On The Ballot Before Voting

The big event is tomorrow—Election Day.

From all indications, turnout will dwarf our usual participation. While high turnout is great, there will be some inconvenience and some frustration as the system strains under the load. Please be considerate of the poll workers and the other voters. Voting is the sacred rite of democracy, for which hundreds of thousands of brave Americans have sacrificed life and limb. An hour or two of waiting is a trivial matter compared to what it has taken to achieve and protect this privilege.

If we all will take a few moments to look over the sample ballots printed in this paper, it will make things go a lot smoother. Trying to read and understand the ballot, especially the amendments, while in the booth, is not time efficient. It is also inconsiderate of those waiting to vote. Please come prepared, with a good understanding of what you are voting o­n, as well as a good attitude about what it is going to take to have a satisfactory voting experience.

Usually, I wait until the end of the column to talk about the number of calls we get and process. I want to change that somewhat, due to the changing nature of the calls we are now receiving. We got over 500 calls last week, and an alarming number were simply folks looking for work. What you have been reading in the papers and hearing o­n the news about credit sluggishness and a business downturn has now arrived in our neighborhood. This is even more vexing when you consider that we in Beaufort County are in much better shape job-wise than almost any county in the state.

I want to address this immediately and locally before there is time for any negative psychology to accumulate and begin to build o­n itself. To that end, I have been talking to Ms. Graves at First Baptist Church of Bluffton and others in the faith community about having a job fair in the Calhoun Street Promenade to match those seeking jobs with businesses needing workers. This is also an agenda item for my weekly meeting with Chris Long, vice president for political affairs of the Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Chamber of Commerce. I also plan to meet with Mary O’Neill of the Bluffton Old Town Merchant’s Society. A certain fraction of unemployment is about matching workers with jobs. A well-organized job fair is the right fix for that need. This effort must proceed with all deliberate speed.

Another theme that is manifesting in the constituent calls is a concern over banking regulations, particularly from folks who have been getting change notices from their credit card issuers. There have also been calls and emails about regulations governing protection of renters when the places in which they reside become involved in foreclosure proceedings.

Unfortunately, most of the regulations having to do with banking and lending are federal, with the states being somewhat limited because this is interstate commerce. However, I have been in contact with our Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee with questions about how we might be able to address some of the concerns being expressed. Those answers will be forthcoming.

As the election concludes, we will begin planning our delegation meeting. If there is something you need placed o­n the agenda, please call Ashley at the delegation office and we will get it taken care of.

Monday, October 27, 2008

All Might Not Be Lost For Waddell Maricultural Center

The special session got under way last week and it was not a pleasant chore. Some of the cuts were made with an ax and some were more surgical. The large state universities, USC and Clemson, were hit pretty hard. USC-Beaufort was spared to a certain degree, but much of that was a function of their funding baseline being not as high as their sister institutions.

One of the cuts that we absorbed locally was to the Waddell Mariculture Center in Greater Bluffton. I fought this o­ne hard but after the dust settled, Al Stokes and his crew will have to defer their needed maintenance o­n this productive facility. Unfortunately, much of that maintenance has already been delayed and there is a point when their mission will start to be compromised.

However, as I mentioned in previous columns, the Coastal Caucus will meet at the Mariculture Center the middle o­n next month. After seeing the operation, I believe my colleagues will understand the wisdom of investing in this excellent facility. Therefore, I am confident we can revisit these cuts in 60 days, as we begin the budget process in the new session, possibly with a different outcome.

Over the next several months, we will be going back into session a few more times in Columbia. Our financial situation is difficult for a lot of very complex reasons. The o­ne thing that is clear is we don’t have enough money to pay for all the things we want to do, to fund all the programs that have merit. What we are doing o­n a large scale is what many of you are doing o­n a smaller scale, that is, making the hard choices about what is really important.

One of the choices that your representative has made, along with some of the Beaufort County delegation, will be to forego any compensation for our work during this special session.

In a process where there are few bright spots, we did manage to override the veto of the DNA bill. This is the bill, you may remember, that allows law enforcement to take DNA samples of those arrested for crimes. I realize there are serious constitutional issues of self-incrimination, violation of medical privacy, and a host of other potentially troubling aspects to this law. However, for the second year in a row, the FBI has determined that our state is the most violent in the country. I am willing to give our law enforcement this tool to prevent the many rapes and murders that it is likely to prevent, and allow the courts to sort out its constitutionality. At the least, we are likely to get some visibility as to what is acceptable, what is not, and some guidance as to how to tell the difference

One of the aspects of this law that opponents frequently overlook is that DNA evidence can just as efficiently exonerate the innocent as it can convict the guilty.

The rain was a worry for the Arts and Seafood Festival, but by all measures, it was a great success. After the grim budgetary work in Columbia, it was a particular pleasure for me to see my neighbors and friends all working together and enjoying each other and our precious little town. Despite our creaky economy and this looming uncertainty, we still have so much for which to be grateful.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Give Credit Where Credit is Due

There are two things that I take very seriously with regard to my duties as your representative. First, I do my dead level best to give you the most accurate, and most up-to-date information, both in this column and in my other constituent outreach efforts. Second, when I fall short of the mark, I want to immediately acknowledge my shortcoming, and do whatever is necessary to make it right.

Last week, in my enthusiasm over the Arts and Seafood Festival, I credited my pal Barry Connor and his crew for putting together this fine event that kicks off today. While Bluffton Rotary is the umbrella under which the festival is organized, and Barry is the current Rotary president, the event is actually run by its own committee and has a ton of volunteers, some Rotary folks and some not.

The Arts and Seafood Festival this year is headed up by the incomparable Mary O’Neill, to whom I extend heartfelt regrets for my unintentional slight. As o­ne who is more than passing familiar with how it feels to work hard o­n a project o­nly to see the credit go to someone else, I am truly sorry for not doing better research before committing my thoughts to print. To his credit, it was Barry who put me right o­n this.

I hope that each of you will take the opportunity to come out this week and enjoy what Mary and her crew have prepared for you. You will be impressed with the level of organization and the creativity that has gone into putting o­n this weeklong celebration.

While we are o­n the topic, I want to let you know that American Legion Post 205 is having their Veterans Day Golf Tournament. It is a nine hole, two person scramble, to be held at Old Carolina Golf Club. For more info, call Bob Ennever at 705-6953, Mike Miranda at 757-6811, Bruce Rafinski at 705-5873, or call the Old Carolina Golf Club.

Last week, I mentioned that there is good news o­n the Waddell Mariculture Center and the Coastal Caucus. o­n November 13-14, Friends of the Rivers will be hosting a tremendous event as part of the annual gathering of the Coastal Chamber Alliance, which is a joint effort of all the Chambers of Commerce along the coast of South Carolina. Members of the legislative Coastal Caucus are invited to share the event and enjoy an afternoon of informational entertainment and a Lowcountry Boil by Sigler’s Rotisserie and Seafood. This all takes place o­n the grounds of the River House and grounds of the Waddell Mariculture Center in Greater Bluffton. We expect a good turnout as interest is already high.

On Friday, the event moves to the Westin Resort o­n Hilton Head Island and will culminate with a legislators o­nly meeting of the Coastal Caucus.

This gathering is hosted by Friends of the Rivers, along with the Hilton Head Island/Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors, the South Carolina Realtors, and the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce.

I’m certainly looking forward to having my legislative colleagues down to enjoy some Lowcountry hospitality, and especially to see the great things Al Stokes and his crew at the Mariculture Center are accomplishing with very modest state support.

Next week, a report o­n the special session that begins today. The news won’t be good, but I am prepared to defend our essential local interests while doing what we must to get past this financial rough patch.

Monday, January 7, 2008

Bill Herbkersman

My Background

We have lived in Beaufort County for 24 years and have called Bluffton home for 20 of those years. I attended high school and college in Columbia, SC.

Mary and I have two children, Shelby and Cole and we are proud to call Bluffton our home.

Our first business venture was Cycle Centers, Inc. We started this business in a small warehouse, and built it into a multi-state retail sporting goods and cycling stores. The headquarters for these stores was in Beaufort County.

After Cycle Centers, we purchased a theme restaurant and brought it out of bankruptcy and, with dedication and hard work, turned it into a chain of restaurants in three states, before divestment. This was a true family success story.

We now own Apex Land and Development and Marina Front Development. These companies were formed to provide affordable and moderate housing in Beaufort and Jasper Counties, and to successfully redevelop “undesirable” areas from Columbia, SC to Jacksonville, Florida. We pride ourselves in being good stewards of the land. We are now involved in redeveloping “eyesore” property in the immediate area and providing low impact/high community usage projects. We have proudly created and employed over 150 Beaufort County residents - your neighbors and mine.

My family belongs to St. Gregory the Great Church in Bluffton, SC and I am involved in the Knights of Columbus, among other areas of our parish.

Community Service

I have been very fortunate and feel it important to show my appreciation in service to those areas that have helped me. As you see from the list below, I am involved with my church, my town, my county, my industry and my party. I am proud to be associated with each of these fine groups.

  • Bluffton Rotary Club
  • St. Gregory the Great Building Committee - Steering Committee
  • Served in SC House of Representatives from new district #118
  • Greater Bluffton Pathways Board
  • Friends of the Rivers member
  • Beaufort County Land Trust
  • Bluffton YMCA founding member
  • United Way of Beaufort County volunteer
  • Knights of Columbus
  • Friends of Liberty
  • National Association of Home Builders
  • Airplane Owners and Pilots Association
  • Beaufort County and Greater Bluffton Republican Party member
  • Columnist for Bluffton Today

My Accomplishments . . . .

Last year the South Carolina House of Representatives was very busy. I have been able to make a number of contributions and I expect Speaker Harrell has some new leadership work for me to do.

As you know, the House of Representatives acts o­n General Bills, Resolutions, Concurrent Resolutions and with the SC Senate, Joint Resolutions. I have sponsored and/or co-sponsored over 1,000 different legislative subjects. Listed below are examples of the kind of work I did last term. I invite you to look these subjects over and email me your thoughts. bill@herbkersman.com.

House Number
Category
Sponsor
Description
H*3006 General Bill Herbkersman and others AN ACT TO AMEND SECTIONS 56-5-160 AND 56-19-10, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH
CAROLINA, 1976, BOTH RELATING TO THE DEFINITION OF THE TERM "BICYCLE", SO AS
TO CLARIFY THE DEFINITION AND TO EXCLUDE CHILDRENS' TRICYCLES; TO AMEND
ARTICLE 27, CHAPTER 5, TITLE 56, RELATING TO BICYCLISTS AND USERS OF PLAY
VEHICLES, SO AS TO DEFINE "BICYCLE LANE" AND PROVIDE, AMONG OTHER THINGS, THAT
MOTOR VEHICLES MAY NOT BLOCK BICYCLE LANES AND MUST YIELD TO BICYCLISTS IN
SUCH LANES,
H 3064 General Bill Herbkersman and others A BILL TO RATIFY AN AMENDMENT TO SECTION 29, ARTICLE III OF THE CONSTITUTION
OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1895, RELATING TO THE LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT, SO AS TO
PROVIDE THAT TAXES UPON REAL PROPERTY MUST BE ASSESSED IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE
METHODS AS PROVIDED BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN ARTICLE X OF THE STATE
CONSTITUTION; AND TO RATIFY AN AMENDMENT TO SECTION 6 OF ARTICLE X, SO AS TO
PROVIDE THAT THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY SHALL ESTABLISH A METHOD OF VALUATION FOR
ASSESSMENT OF REAL PROPERTY WITHIN THE STATE; AND TO PROVIDE THAT THE GENERAL
ASSEMBLY BY LAW SHALL PROVIDE FOR THE TERMS, CONDITIONS, AND PROCEDURES TO
IMPLEMENT THE ABOVE PROVISIONS.
H 3146 General BillHerbkersman and others

. A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING CHAPTER 46
TO TITLE 11 SO AS TO ESTABLISH THE "SOUTH CAROLINA HYDROGEN INFRASTRUCTURE
DEVELOPMENT FUND", TO AUTHORIZE THE SOUTH CAROLINA RESEARCH AUTHORITY TO
ADMINISTER SUBGRANTS FOR THE PURPOSE OF PROMOTING THE DEVELOPMENT OF HYDROGEN
PRODUCTION, TO ALLOW THE FUND TO RECEIVE DONATIONS, GRANTS, AND OTHER FUNDING
AS PROVIDED BY LAW

H 3153 Joint Resolution Herbkersman and othersA BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION
57-3-45 SO AS TO ESTABLISH THE MASS TRANSIT ADVISORY COUNCIL AND PROVIDE FOR
ITS MEMBERSHIP AND FUNCTIONS AND TO AMEND SECTION 12-28-2725, RELATING TO THE
PORTION OF THE MOTOR FUELS USER FEE USED FOR MASS TRANSIT, SO AS TO PROVIDE
THAT REVENUE EQUAL TO TWO CENTS A GALLON OF THE TOTAL USER FEE o­n GASOLINE
MUST BE USED FOR MASS TRANSIT.
H 3156 General Bill Herbkersman and others A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION
38-3-105 SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT THE DIRECTOR OF THE DEPARTMENT OF INSURANCE
MUST BE ELECTED TO OFFICE BY THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY, FOR A TERM OF FOUR YEARS;

H*3161 General Bill Herbkersman and others AN ACT TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION
59-67-105 SO AS TO PROVIDE FOR THE MAXIMUM SCHOOL BUS RIDE TIME OF EACH
STUDENT AND ROUTING EFFICIENCY FOR EACH SCHOOL BUS
H 3296 General Bill Herbkersman and othersA BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION
59-17-160 SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT AT LEAST SIXTY-FIVE PERCENT OF THE EDUCATION
OPERATIONAL BUDGET OF EACH SCHOOL DISTRICT MUST BE USED FOR CLASSROOM
INSTRUCTION AND PROVIDE THAT EACH SCHOOL DISTRICT SHALL REPORT TO THE STATE
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION THE ACTUAL PERCENTAGE OF ITS EDUCATION OPERATIONAL
BUDGET THAT THE SCHOOL DISTRICT USED FOR CLASSROOM INSTRUCTION.

H 3390 General Bill Herbkersman and others A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION
12-6-3588 SO AS TO ALLOW A STATE INCOME TAX CREDIT EQUAL TO TWENTY PERCENT OF
THE QUALIFIED EXPENDITURES OF PHOTOVOLTAIC, SOLAR, AND FUEL CELL PROPERTY
CREDITS ALLOWED AGAINST A TAXPAYER'S FEDERAL INCOME TAX LIABILITY.

H 3512 General Bill Herbkersman and others A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION
44-37-50 SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT A HOSPITAL SHALL MAKE AVAILABLE TO THE PARENTS
OF A NEWBORN BABY A VIDEO PRESENTATION o­n THE DANGERS OF SHAKING INFANTS
H 3560 General Bill Herbkersman and others A BILL TO AMEND SECTION 11-45-30, AS AMENDED, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA,
1976, RELATING TO DEFINITIONS IN CONNECTION WITH THE VENTURE CAPITAL
INVESTMENT ACT OF SOUTH CAROLINA, SO AS TO SPECIFY THE INVESTMENTS IN
ACTIVITIES AT CERTAIN STAGES OF BUSINESS DEVELOPMENT
H 3698 General Bill Herbkersman and others A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION
38-57-190 SO AS TO PROVIDE THAT NO INSURER MAY SELECTIVELY LIMIT ITS INSURANCE
OFFERINGS IN SOUTH CAROLINA DEFINED AS FAILING TO OFFER A KIND OR LINE OF
INSURANCE WHICH THE INSURER OR AN AFFILIATED INSURER OFFERS IN ANOTHER
JURISDICTION
H 3774 General Bill Herbkersman and others
A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING ARTICLE 3
TO CHAPTER 117, TITLE 44 TO ENACT THE "SOUTH CAROLINA ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION
PRESCRIPTION ACT" SO AS TO ESTABLISH THE REQUIREMENTS FOR TRANSMITTING A
PRESCRIPTION ELECTRONICALLY, TO PROVIDE PROCEDURES FOR MAINTAINING THE
CONFIDENTIALITY OF INFORMATION IN THE ELECTRONIC TRANSMISSION OF
PRESCRIPTIONS
H 3973 General Bill Herbkersman and others A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION
16-13-445 SO AS TO CREATE THE OFFENSE OF POSSESSION OF A FALSIFIED
FEDERALLY-ISSUED IDENTIFICATION CARD AND TO PROVIDE A PENALTY; AND TO AMEND
SECTION 16-13-452, RELATING TO LAW ENFORCEMENT EXCEPTIONS
H 4162 General Bill Herbkersman and others A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION
57-3-45 SO AS TO ESTABLISH THE SOUTH CAROLINA MASS TRANSIT ADVISORY COMMISSION
AND PROVIDE FOR ITS MEMBERSHIP, DUTIES, AND RESPONSIBILITIES, AND TO PROVIDE
THAT THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATION SHALL PROVIDE STAFF AND OTHER SUPPORT
FOR THE COMMISSION.

H*4400General Bill Herbkersman and othersAN ACT TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, SO AS TO ENACT THE
SOUTH CAROLINA ILLEGAL IMMIGRATION REFORM ACT
H 4510 General Bill Herbkersman and others A BILL TO AMEND SECTION 12-36-2120, AS AMENDED, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH
CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO SALES TAX EXEMPTIONS, SO AS TO EXEMPT CORRECTIVE
LENSES SOLD BY PRESCRIPTION AND RAW MATERIALS USED IN THE MANUFACTURE OF SUCH
LENSES.
H 4516 General Bill Herbkersman and others A BILL TO AMEND THE CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, BY ADDING SECTION
15-35-410 SO AS TO PROVIDE A JUDGMENT BY DEFAULT IN A CIVIL ACTION MAY NOT BE
ENTERED AGAINST A PERSON IN ACTIVE MILITARY SERVICE OF THE UNITED STATES OR
THE SOUTH CAROLINA NATIONAL GUARD IF THE PERSON HAS NOT MADE AN APPEARANCE IN
A COURT IN WHICH THE ACTION IS PENDING DUE TO THE FULFILLMENT OF HIS MILITARY
OBLIGATION, AND TO PROVIDE EXCEPTIONS FOR COMPLIANCE WITH CERTAIN FEDERAL LAW
AND FOR THE ENFORCEMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT AND SPOUSAL SUPPORT.
H 4523 General Bill Herbkersman and others A BILL TO AMEND SECTION 17-25-45, AS AMENDED, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA,
1976, RELATING TO LIFE SENTENCES FOR PERSONS CONVICTED OF CERTAIN MOST SERIOUS
AND SERIOUS OFFENSES, SO AS TO INCLUDE THE OFFENSE OF COMMITTING OR ATTEMPTING
A LEWD ACT UPON A CHILD UNDER SIXTEEN IN THE LIST OF SERIOUS OFFENSES; AND TO
AMEND SECTION 24-13-100, RELATING TO THE DEFINITION OF "NO PAROLE OFFENSE", SO
AS TO ADD THE OFFENSE OF COMMITTING OR ATTEMPTING A LEWD ACT UPON A CHILD
UNDER SIXTEEN AS AN OFFENSE FOR WHICH A PERSON MAY NOT BE PAROLED.

H 4526 General Bill Herbkersman and others A BILL TO AMEND SECTION 16-1-60, AS AMENDED, CODE OF LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA,
1976, RELATING TO OFFENSES DEFINED AS VIOLENT, SO AS TO INCLUDE BURGLARY IN
THE SECOND DEGREE WHEN A PERSON ENTERS A DWELLING WITH INTENT TO COMMIT A
CRIME IN ADDITION TO BURGLARY IN THE SECOND DEGREE WHEN A PERSON ENTERS A
BUILDING FOR THIS PURPOSE
H 4550 General Bill Herbkersman and others A BILL TO DESIGNATE SECTION 5 OF ACT 115 OF 2007 AS SECTION 12-6-515, CODE OF
LAWS OF SOUTH CAROLINA, 1976, RELATING TO THE REDUCTION IN THE SOUTH CAROLINA
INDIVIDUAL INCOME TAX LIABILITY OF INDIVIDUALS BY SUBJECTING THE BOTTOM OF THE
2.5 PERCENT STATE INDIVIDUAL INCOME RATE TO A TAX RATE OF ZERO, SO AS TO
PROVIDE FURTHER RATE REDUCTIONS FOR MARRIED TAXPAYERS BY REDUCING THE THREE
PERCENT RATE TO TWO PERCENT OVER THREE YEARS AND TO DEFINE "MARRIED TAXPAYER"
CONSISTENTLY WITH THE DEFINITION FOR MARRIAGE PROVIDED IN THE CONSTITUTION OF
THIS STATE.



Tuesday, January 1, 2008

Beaufort County Voting Precincts

Beaufort County Voting Precincts * Note: Precincts Are Subject To Change.

Beaufort 1

Charles L Brown Activity Center (Formerly Greene Street Gym )

1001 Hamar Street

Beaufort 2

Charles L Brown Activity Center (Formerly Greene Street Gym )

1001 Hamar Street

Beaufort 3

Charles L Brown Activity Center (Formerly Greene Street Gym )

1001 Hamar Street

Burton 1A

Burton Wells Recreation Center

1 Middleton Rec. Dr.

Burton 1B

Robert Smalls Middle School

43 Alston Road

Burton 1C

Shanklin Elementary School

121 Morrall Dr.

Burton 2A

Shell Point Elementary School

81 Savannah Highway

Burton 2B

District Service Center

2900 Mink Point Blvd

Burton 2C

District Service Center

2900 Mink Point Blvd

Burton 3

Robert Smalls Middle School

43 Alston Road

Chechessee

B-J-H Comprehensive Health Ctr

721 Okatie Hwy.

Lady's Island 1A

Lady's Is. Middle School

30 Cougar Drive

Lady's Island 1B

Lady's Island Elem.School

73 Chowan Creek Bluff Rd

Lady's Island 2A

Coosa Elementary School

45 Middle Rd.

Lady's Island 2B

David Smith Comm. Ctr. (Coosaw)

140 Coosaw River Dr.

Lady's Island 3A

Broomfield Rec. Center

161 Brickyard Pt. Rd. N.

Lady's Island 3B

Lady's Is. Airport Bldg.

39 Airport Circle

Mossy Oaks 1A

Cornerstone Christian Church

2301 First Blvd.

Mossy Oaks 1B

Beaufort Middle School

2501 Mossy Oaks Rd.

Mossy Oaks 2

Mossy Oaks Elem. School

2510 Mossy Oaks Rd.

Port Royal 1

Port Royal Fire Station

1750 Paris Ave.

Port Royal 2

Port Royal Fire Station

1750 Paris Ave.

Dale/Lobeco

Davis Elementary School

354 Keans Neck Road

Seabrook 1

Public Works

120 Shaklin Road

Seabrook 2

Whale Branch Middle School

2009 Trask Pkwy

Seabrook 3

Grays Hill Community Center

45 Bruce K Smalls Blvd.

Sheldon 1

Elijah Washington Medical Ctr

211 Paige Point Rd.

Sheldon 2

Booker T. Washington Comm. Ctr.

182 Booker T Washington Cir.

Saint Helena 1A

Penn Center Inc. (Frissell Hall)

16 Penn Center Circ. W.

Saint Helena 1B

Scott Community Center

242 Scott Hill Rd.

Saint Helena 1C

Polowana Fire Station #24

100 Polowana Rd.

Saint Helena 2A

St. Helena Elementary School

1025 Sea Island Pkwy.

Saint Helena 2B

Gloria Potts Comm. Ctr. (Seaside)

130 Seaside Rd.

Saint Helena 2C

Fripp Is. Community Center

205 Tarpon Blvd.

Daufuskie

Daufuskie Fire Station

400 Haig Point Rd.

Hilton Head 1A

HH School for Creative Arts (Blue Bldg.)

10 Wilborn Rd.

Hilton Head 1B

HH School for Creative Arts (Blue Bldg.)

10 Wilborn Rd.

Hilton Head 2A

Indigo Pines

110 Gardner Drive

Hilton Head 2B

St. James Baptist Church

208 Dillon Road

Hilton Head 2C

Indigo Hall Facility (Indigo Run)

103 Berwick Dr

Hilton Head 3

Hilton Head Library

11 Beach City Rd.

Hilton Head 4A

The Cypress Club

20 Lady Slipper Lane

Hilton Head 4B

The Cypress Club

20 Lady Slipper Lane

Hilton Head 4C

Plantation House

235 Seabrook Dr.

Hilton Head 4D

Plantation House

235 Seabrook Dr.

Hilton Head 5A

Plantation House

235 Seabrook Dr.

Hilton Head 5B

Plantation House

235 Seabrook Dr.

Hilton Head 5C

Plantation House

235 Seabrook Dr.

Hilton Head 6A

First Presbyterian Church

540 William Hilton Pkwy

Hilton Head 6B

First Presbyterian Church

540 William Hilton Pkwy

Hilton Head 7A

Christ Lutheran

829 William Hilton Pkwy

Hilton Head 7B

Arts Center of Coastal Carolina

14 Shelter Cove Lane

Hilton Head 8A

St. Luke's Episcopal

50 Pope Avenue

Hilton Head 8B

St Luke's Episcopal

50 Pope Avenue

Hilton Head 9A (TEMPORARY LOCATION)

Christ Lutheran

829 William Hilton Pkwy

Hilton Head 9B (TEMPORARY LOCATION)

Christ Lutheran

829 William Hilton Pkwy

Hilton Head 10

Spanish Wells Club

1 Brams Point Rd.

Hilton Head 11

St Andrews By the Sea UMC

20 Pope Avenue

Hilton Head 12

The Seabrook

300 Woodhaven Drive

Hilton Head 13

First Baptist Church HH

100 S. Forest Beach

Hilton Head 14

Sea Pines Plantation Club

100 N. Sea Pines Dr.

Hilton Head 15A

Community Services Assoc. (CSA)

175 Greenwood Drive

Hilton Head 15B

Sea Pines Plantation Club

100 N. Sea Pines Dr.

Belfair

Belfair Activity Center

2 Summerton Drive

Bluffton 1A

Bluffton Library

120 Palmetto Way

Bluffton 1B

Bluffton Library

120 Palmetto Way

Bluffton 1C

Bluffton Library

120 Palmetto Way

Bluffton 1D

First Baptist Church-Bluffton

11 Church Street

Bluffton 2A

First Baptist Church-Bluffton

11 Church Street

Bluffton 2B

LowCountry Community Church

801 Buckwalter Parkway

Bluffton 2C

First Baptist Church-Bluffton

11 Church Street

Bluffton 3A

Moss Creek Bostwick Pavilion

341 Moss Creek Drive

Bluffton 3B

Bluffton Recreation Center

61B Ulmer Road

Bluffton 4A

LowCountry Community Church

801 Buckwalter Parkway

Bluffton 4B

LowCountry Community Church

801 Buckwalter Parkway

Bluffton 4C

LowCountry Community Church

801 Buckwalter Parkway

Bluffton 5

LowCountry Community Church

801 Buckwalter Parkway

Sun City 1A

Pinckney Hall

114 Sun City Ln

Sun City 1B

Pinckney Hall

114 Sun City Ln

Sun City 2

Pinckney Hall

114 Sun City Ln

Sun City 3A

Pinckney Hall

114 Sun City Ln

Sun City 3B

Pinckney Hall

114 Sun City Ln

Sun City 4A

Hidden Cypress

672 Cypress Hill Dr

Sun City 4B

Hidden Cypress

672 Cypress Hill Dr