Monday, July 26, 2010

Off season a chance to cut future deals

Bluffton Today

The session is long over and we are, legislatively speaking, on vacation. This may be so for the rank and file, but for the leadership, including your representative, we are hard at it. Even though some of the details of this year’s budget are not yet finalized, we are already getting things rolling for next year.

To that end, Ihave met with the chairman of Ways and Means, as well as most of the other chairmen, trying to get good visibility on our financial priorities for the upcoming session.

This is also the time when I can make a little progress in building a foundation on which our delegation can support financial reforms that will reduce our donor status among the counties of our state. In fact, between sessions is the only time when we can operate without the day-to-day political pressure that has members interested mainly in appearing to protect the singular interests of their constituencies. During the off-season, there is more time to discuss the bigger picture and maybe strike a few bargains that will yield mutual benefits after the first of the year.

One of those areas of bigger picture consideration has to do with the revised and revived Sembler matter. The momentary defeat of the development incentives that the Jasper County leadership tried to put together to create jobs in the eastern portion of Hardeeville had the unfortunate effect of taking away the environmental, workforce and oversight features that might have made that project somewhat more palatable when it does eventually come on line. Some version of the Sembler project will be built, and it will be built and operated in a manner that satisfies the Jasper County standards, such as they are. Senator Pinckney and his crew are adamant they will create jobs for their folks one way or another.

I was a tad uncomfortable with all the ill-advised and unwarranted triumphalism that my friends at the Coastal Conservation League exhibited after the incentives measure was not passed in the closing hours of the last session. This whole notion of “we win, you lose” is particularly inappropriate when we are dealing with our next county over neighbors. After all, these are the folks that we will be working with for years to come on issues that are vital to both our counties, such as roads and port construction.

It is prudent to remember that all our rivers make up in Jasper County. All our roads pass through Jasper County before they reach us. We have regional concerns that will have to be tackled with mutual respect if we are to have any chance at success.

Obviously, I will continue to engage with my friends in the leadership of Jasper County. I will continue to push for enlightened, sustainable, and economically prudent environmental regulation. I will also continue to push for local and legal workers to build and staff any development in the area. I will also help our friends and colleagues understand that doing the right thing now is the productive thing for the long haul. What I will not do is demand that they do it our way or we will block their efforts. After all, our record in these matters is not without blemish.

Briefly, Many thanks to Marilyn Caperillian for her good work on the Beaufort County Election Commission. We made real progress on hard issues. Iknow that her replacement, Norma Stewart, will do an equally fine job.