I appreciate all the well wishers calling with regard to the filing action last week. I especially want to thank those folks who asked to volunteer for the campaign that will now not be necessary. It is gratifying to have good folks waiting in the wings to help out if needed. Also, as chairman of the Beaufort County delegation, these developments certainly speak well for our effectiveness in handling state affairs at the local level.
We are off for the next two weeks as we go into the Easter/Passover holiday season. There will be a ton of visitors in our area as we move from the holidays to the Heritage. I know that tourists can be a little trying as they try to find their way to all the interesting sites and events in our little part of the Lowcountry. Our traffic circles often seem maze-like to the uninitiated. Please be kind. Visitors are a big part of our local economy. Poll after poll indicates that visitors rate very highly our friendliness and inclination toward helpful chat. One incident of impatience or rudeness can cancel a hundred stories of friendly locals.
We are at about the halfway point of the legislative year. Much of the legislation we are working through is complete or nearly so. This is the time when we can introduce legislation that we might want to carry over, or we can block legislation that doesn’t, even after committee and subcommittee hearings, make sense to move forward.
This year the House approved sweeping reforms to the State Retirement System. These reforms were sorely needed so that we can keep our pension promises to our employees, while also closing the door on some employees who might have gamed the system in order to bump their payments beyond what they deserved. Failure to address these oversights will create a fiscal black hole for taxpayers.
We also approved the Right to Work Act. Every South Carolinian should be able to hold a job without being required to join a union and pay dues. In our conservative state, union dues could possible be used to support political actions not in keeping with the wishes of rank and file. The Right to Work Act identified more than half dozen instances where the rights of workers were being abridged in the name of union solidarity. I have no problem with folks joining a union if they desire. However, I do have a problem with compulsory union membership as a condition of employment. With the passage of this bill, we will solidify South Carolina as a strong “Right to Work” state.
Finally, the House is moving tax reform legislation through committee. The Tax Reform Study Committee focused on creation of a fair tax code. The legislation working through the process will eliminate two thirds of the special interest sales tax exemptions, flatten income tax, lower sales tax, reform property taxes and lower burdensome taxes on small business. We expect to debate all aspects of this legislation before the end of April.
I look forward to hearing from you on all these matters as we enter the last half of session.
Again, have a great holiday and be careful; we have a lot of young people on the road as students are home for spring break. Be kind, be patient, and be safe.