Wednesday, May 16, 2012

From the House

Bluffton Today

I promised last week to give you an update on H.3259, also known as the Golf Cart Bill. The story I had in mind at that time was another of my “I’m frustrated with the Senate” tales. You are probably tired of hearing about these folks and I am certainly tired of enduring the silliness that seems to make its way into their process. The real story, as it turned out, was nothing short of inspirational.

The Golf Cart Bill, as you may recall, is a piece of legislation I have been working on for years. Its local application has to do with folks living in the gated communities or on Daufuskie Island. For these people, golf carts are part of the good life. It is inexpensive, non-polluting transportation that happens to be a fun way to get around as well. Unfortunately, a quirk in state law did not allow the majority of cart owners to use their vehicles to best advantage and still be covered by insurance. My efforts were to allow for reasonable use of this “green” mode of transport and still make certain that people’s insurance was still in force.

The bill, in its current form, had been around for almost two years. The House and the DOT had vetted it. Sheriff Tanner and state law enforcement were OK with the bill as long as the golf carts didn’t travel on major highways or more than three miles from either a user’s driveway or the main gate of a plantation. It was also on third reading in the Senate. Unfortunately, it was being held up by two senators, for reasons only they seemed to understand. This is where it gets interesting.

I was able to have a chat with one of the senators, and he finally removed his hold. The other senator, from Horry County, wouldn’t budge. It was time to hand this thing over to the stockholders.

My friends, Aaron Crosby and Bill Greenwood, started a call campaign over on Daufuskie. They called the senator in question at his office and at home, expressing their displeasure with his activity relating to the bill. Also, on Tuesday, we had the Sun City Government Affairs Committee come up to talk with their legislators. When apprised of the situation, there was an offer on the table for these good people to visit with the senator at his office. The offer was accepted and the committee went over as a group and politely explained their position to the senator in question, who promptly released his hold on the bill.

My sincere gratitude goes out to all involved in this inspirational example of participatory democracy. There is a lesson here that should not be missed. So many times, I see our legislative process distorted and sometimes hijacked by egos and turf battles that have absolutely nothing to do with why we were sent here. Politics should be our method of conflict resolution, not simply a platform for playing out our ideological dramas.

I am fortunate that District 118 is seemingly comprised of individuals with a pretty good idea of what the legislative process is supposed to be. I get three to four hundred reminders weekly in the form of calls, letters, emails and visits from these constituents. I am certain that if every governmental district, be it county, state, or federal, had the level of participation we enjoy here, our broken politics would be made whole and far, far fewer of our national injuries would be self-inflicted.