Monday, August 15, 2011

From the House

Bluffton Today

I want to begin my recap of this session’s high spots, as well as begin to give you an idea of what is likely to be in play as the legislature reconvenes after the first of the year. First, I’d like to share a piece of disturbing information I recently received, so maybe we can all be on the lookout for this kind of activity.
My good friend Leigh West Brown found a lab mix dog that had apparently been used in some sort of dog baiting or dog fighting activity. She shared the info with me, along with extremely disturbing photos. The cruelties that this poor animal had endured, presumably as part of some sort of sick entertainment, were simply horrifying. The law is very clear in this matter, made even more clear by recent updates to the statutes as we in the General Assembly were made aware of the extent of the problem.
If you come across animals that are mistreated for any reason, call law enforcement. If you come across any kind of dog fighting, chicken fighting, or baiting, please call law enforcement. This should not be something we tolerate in our community. Also, you might want to contact Leigh West Brown to see how you can help.
As a tourist area, we have more than our share of opportunities for outdoor recreation, sometimes while consuming various adult beverages. Done in a responsible manner, this can be good fun and a source of lasting memories. It also presents us with a potential disposal problem if folks are not careful. My friend, Senator Ray Cleary from Myrtle Beach has proposed a measure called the Alcoholic Beverage Container Recycling Bill, which passed the Senate but for various reasons was not taken up by the House. We will get a look at it in January.
While there are various ways we can encourage recycling, I’d really like to hear from any of you who might have experience in the ways that this can be handled. If you lived in a state with a deposit system, how did it work? Is this even something the state should have an opinion on? Let me hear from you.
One of the good things we managed to accomplish this last session was the continuation of the Land Conservation Bank. While we were unable to pledge any funds for actual purchases this time around, it is important that this tool was preserved for future use. This is especially true in our part of the world as both Hilton Head Island and Beaufort County have very successful and well-respected land preservation programs. In the past, both entities have partnered with the state to preserve lands in our neighborhoods, either by fee simple acquisition or purchase of development rights.
The Conservation Bank program was slated to sunset in 2013. However, House Bill 3083, written by my pal Mike Pitts, was passed with a comfortable majority to extend the life of the bank for an additional ten years.
Another forward-looking bill called the Commercial Center Revitalization Act, written by Rep. James Smith, was passed along with a Concurrent Resolution encouraging the Councils of Government (COGs) to draft ordinances to enable the retrofitting of shopping centers into dense, walkable, mixed-use town centers. As our commercial infrastructure ages, we need to have off-the-shelf solutions to repurpose and recycle these assets. This bill seeks to do just that.
More highlights to come as we trend into fall and the end of this hottest of summers.