Monday, May 2, 2011

From The House

There is understandable concern over the legislation put up by Rep. Robert Brown (D-Charleston), which would essentially create a new tax on docks. I have heard from a number of you on this, primarily from friends in Moss Creek Plantation. In my mind, such legislation is DOA. Just as soon as I heard about this profoundly ill-advised measure, we put a stop to it for this year, and probably for many years to come. The issue would have never been given even preliminary consideration if some of our inland colleagues were made aware of the fact that docks are already taxed as part of our property. All of us with docks are painfully aware of the degree that they add to our tax burden. In short, Rep. Brown’s dock tax is not going to happen on my watch. I do, however, appreciate all the calls and emails from my good friends at Moss Creek.

This was crossover week. What this means is that unless a measure is passed in either the house or senate by the end of crossover week, it most likely won’t be taken up by the other chamber before the end of session in June. There are special circumstances when a bill will make the crossover even late in the session. Such was the case for a bill put up by my friend Senator Tom Davis, which would require the federal government to publish, and for us to understand, any strings that are attached to federal dollars coming into South Carolina. It passed the senate on short order and since time was getting short, I had it brought up for unanimous consent to be heard next week. I like the bill, it makes good sense, and I think it is good for the people of the state.

You may remember last year in several columns, I asked you for examples of how state regulations or agency rules cut into productivity without necessarily achieving their intended effect. As always, you were more than forthcoming with story after story. I told you at the time; we were working on streamlining and making more rational the state’s regulatory regime. As a result of your stories, as well as many others from around the state, the leadership of the house, including your representative, included regulatory reform in this session’s agenda. I’m happy to say we are making great progress on this crucial agenda item.

Often when we pass legislation that must be enacted by an executive branch agency; there are aspects of the implementation that are more burdensome or complex than the intent of the legislation. Sometimes there are new fees to cover the cost of implementation that were not envisioned in the original legislation. This is the source of many of the stories we heard from you, which we now are addressing. A bill passed this week will require the General Assembly to take a vote on regulations proposed by South Carolina governmental agencies such as DNR and DHEC, as well as others. This is not to say that these good folks don’t know what they are doing, they are professionals hired to do certain jobs. This measure is simply a mechanism to check that the cost/benefit ratio of regulation is not out of whack. There is also new legislation that does the same thing with new fees. There are, of course, some caveats and exceptions, but in the main, this is a good faith effort to address your concerns with how we at the state do our jobs.