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.