Sunday, March 4, 2012

From The House

Bluffton Today

As the budget was being printed and laid on the desks, we took care of other business at hand. One of these matters has to do with controlling the amount and composition of trash coming into or out of the state. In my view, this is the type of issue better handled by those closest to the situation. Solid waste disposal is one of those things local governments seem to do pretty well. Why get the state involved with mandates and multiple criteria when the system works already. Having said that, if there are lapses in local control that have not been properly looked at, we may need to get more testimony. We will, consequently, be revisiting this bill next week. My preference is usually “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.”

When there are issues that have local implications, but perhaps there is variability in the circumstances from district to district, matters are somewhat more complex. Such is the case with a Wetlands bill that is currently under consideration. Although Horry County and Beaufort County are both coastal areas with many similarities, we are different enough that what might be appropriate for our northerly neighbor may not be the best way for us. As far as the Wetlands bill is concerned, many of the definitions don’t quite fit both circumstances, but the principles of coastal zone management require comprehensive legislation. Obviously, we will have to work this until we get it right. Unfortunately, this means that sometimes these things take years to enact. I will give you more details on this as it evolves.

An example of an effort being years in the making is this matter of government restructuring. This is something I have worked on for a very long time. The need is critical, but even the raw outlines are controversial. This is made more complex by day- to-day events that find some members of the legislative branch questioning the motives and sincerity of the executive branch. Nearly any version of reform will increase the prerogatives of the executive at the expense of the legislative. Efficiency is the goal, but the trust issue is a big obstacle. I believe, however, that there is enough common ground for progress to be made. In my view, the recent Senate-passed restructuring bill is too watered down. The House will get another crack in coming weeks, and I am optimistic we can get some additional efficiencies in our governmental system, but the changes will likely be incremental.

Another issue on which I have been getting calls is the Third Party Voter bill. This issue is fairly simple: how to protect the integrity of our electoral system. There are, however, so many groups currently involved in voter registration, coming from such a wide spectrum of interests; the complexity of regulating the process is daunting. We will have to take another look. Legislating common sense is hard, perhaps impossible.

In a more social vein, we had lots of visitors up to see us last week. We had a contingent from the Greater Island Committee, as well as a good group from Sun City. Unfortunately, several of our delegation members were not available for the Hilton Head group, but I was able to visit with our Sun City friends and certainly enjoyed our tour.