Wednesday, May 23, 2012

From the House

Bluffton Today

Last year, as part of the leadership of the South Carolina House of Representatives, I was involved in the formulation and subsequent rollout of an ambitious two-year legislative agenda. Most of the heavy lifting for this project was done during and after the 2010 elections. A large portion of what ultimately became part of this agenda was contributed by residents of Beaufort County and, in particular, District 118.

Your calls, letters, emails, and visits to my office are a gold mine of practical wisdom that often finds its way into legislative form. As you have heard me say more than a few times, it is your input that makes me a successful legislator. I am personally blessed with a huge cadre of experienced leaders from both the public and private sectors who regularly share what was successful in the places they lived before retiring or relocating to our beautiful part of the Lowcountry. Needless to say, my open door has been of immense benefit to our state.

Over the last two years, I worked with many of my legislative colleagues, especially our hard-charging Beaufort County Delegation, in passing the major features of this ambitious legislative agenda. Some of these items were meaningful tax reform, illegal immigration reform, voter ID, charter school reform, school choice, and a host of policies to enable small business owners to secure funding through the private sector.

Part of the job of leadership is to keep the momentum going as the inevitable fatigue starts to set in around the end of the first month of session. One of the more effective motivational strategies became known as “wicked Wednesdays.” We would not leave the chambers on Wednesdays until each item of that week’s list of assignments was completed. In spite of some bitter complaints, we managed, in two years, to pass good bills that together amounted to 25 serious, critically needed reforms. Interestingly, many of the most serious complainers are now the most proud of our record of achievement. Go figure.

There are three weeks left in the current two-year legislative session. Those bills left stranded without completion will start the laborious process again on the second Tuesday of 2013. I am chagrinned to report that over half of the House-passed reform measures are currently languishing in South Carolina Senate. Lest you think I have completely lost patience with these princelings, it needs to be noted that they have passed several items, including the Born Alive Act, the joint election of Governor and Lt. Governor, voter ID, illegal immigration, and a tepid version of government restructuring.

Next week, I will begin a recitation of some of the important bills passed by the House that await action in the Senate. In fact, if there is not a serious uptick in Senate productivity, it may take several weeks to list and briefly explain those bills in danger of stranding.

Finally, I need to commend those folks who were part of the Sun City Government Affairs Committee who were instrumental in the passage of the Golf Cart Bill by helping to explain to the Senator from Horry County the merits of said legislation.

Also, to those doubters who called and accused their representative of fabricating such an uplifting story, I can only say “we live in a world of wonders.”