Wednesday, April 3, 2013

From the House

Bluffton Today

Although we are in the second week of furlough, our constituent calls and emails are still running fairly high. This week we are at about the 150 mark, which is somewhat above average with no hot-button issues in the mix. We want to welcome a new staff member who is helping to keep us up to date on our constituent service. Christy White is the new delegation secretary for our north of the Broad office. She is pleasant, efficient, and looks to be a great addition to the team.

There were a few items debated before we began the budget marathon. One of those, which we completed and passed before the furlough, was a constitutional amendment bill to allow the state adjutant general to be appointed by the governor instead of being elected. This is one of the important matters you will determine in the November 2014 election.

Currently, we are the only state in the union electing our adjutant general. The present holder of the office, General Bob Livingston, has been an outspoken supporter of the constitutional amendment. As our reserve forces have assumed a greater role in our security posture, it is increasing important that an experienced military leader hold our highest state military position. The electoral process, for all its strengths, does not guarantee this. If this amendment succeeds, the governor can make certain we have an experienced and proficient military leader for our National Guard, and the governor will also be held responsible for his choice.

The House also passed legislation that banned the so-called “sweepstakes machines” that have been installed across the state by businesses exploiting a loophole in the current law. This comes a dozen years after the South Carolina Supreme Court essentially banned video poker. Even after video poker proved to be a serious detriment to the social fabric of the state, there are still those who support the industry and search for a roundabout way to return the machines to the state. If you are one of those folks, give me a call and make your best case, but right now, I’m vigorously supporting the ban.

The House has begun the ethics reform process with two bills out of subcommittee and working through the process. It has been decades since we have substantially updated our ethics laws. Since that time, social media, cell phones, electronic campaigning, and a host of technological and social changes have come online. These changes have made political campaigns, fundraising, and even basic transparency into a whole different ball game. I look forward to bringing this issue to the forefront and seeing how you, the voters of District 118, feel about the scope of necessary reform to make certain our electoral process is not overwhelmed by these technological and social developments. The protection of the integrity of our electoral process is a matter that should be taken very seriously, whether it is a simple matter such as making sure the person who shows up at the polling place is who they say they are, or determining who is financially supporting the various campaigns.

As always, I will place the ideas in current play before you for your opinions and suggestions. Its no secret that I have carved out a pretty fair legislative tenure by simply representing the collective wisdom of my district, for which I am grateful.

Next week, I will give you a half-time report on where we stand with Senate passage of Waddell Center funding, USCB parity funding, as well as May River protection funding.