Monday, April 11, 2011

Golf Cart Bill to Senate

Bluffton Today

Last week, we handled 578 constituent contacts, which may be a new record for us. As always, I am grateful for your suggestions, your comments, and even your criticism. As long as our back and forth is active, your wisdom has a clear channel to Columbia. As I continue up the legislative ladder, your voice has more and more influence. Let me hear you.

A fair number of those constituent contacts were kind words regarding my recent op-ed in the “other paper”. My preferred venue is, of course, this space. However, my school choice bill was unfairly assailed in the Island Packet in an op-ed by a lobbyist for an organization of school boards, and I responded. It just didn’t make sense to allow intentional distortion and mischaracterization of a good bill to go unchallenged. Apparently, many of you agreed.

Speaking of good bills, our Golf Cart Bill passed the house and is on the way to the senate. I say “our bill” because in the three years since this bill was originally brought up, your input has been pivotal in refining this measure into its current form. The current law states that properly equipped and insured golf carts are allowed on certain roads for a distance of two miles from the owner’s driveway. The original version amended the law to allow two miles of travel from the gate of the property. With additional input, primarily from Sun City and Belfair, the recently passed house version has language that allows travel from any gate of the property. This is important because the back gates of many plantations are near commercial clusters that house needed services and are within the prescribed range.

Another feature of the new law applies to barrier islands of a certain size, which exactly fit Daufuskie Island. While our Daufuskie friends have been using golf carts since there were golf carts, they were not within a legal framework that would keep them from getting sideways with their insurance carriers. In fact, much of the value in this new bill has to do with staying on the right side of the insurance companies. This is why your representative has worked not only with the law enforcement side on this matter, but also with the Department of Insurance. Now, if the senate will do the right thing, many more folks can use non-polluting, convenient golf carts for shopping, doctor visits etc.

Also, under the new bill, an adventurous entrepreneur could even rent golf carts on Daufuskie Island, which would have a tremendous effect on the success of the growing number of shops and galleries on the island. This is a perfect example of how talking with your representative and sharing your good ideas can make for more responsive, more appropriate, and more commonsense government.

In that same vein, I had a great conversation with my good friends Capt. Fred Mix and David Harter, among others, about the Cobia Program. This program is only one of the many great things the Waddell Center does for us. It has a huge economic impact while helping to keep our rivers and estuaries clean and productive. Once again, this is government that is responsive, appropriate, and commonsense.

Finally, want to welcome Dr. Michael Campbell and his crew to the Promenade. As planned, local medical services that most folks in Old Town and surrounding neighborhoods can access either by golf cart or a short walk. How great is that?