Wednesday, July 3, 2013

From the House

Bluffton Today

This last week was a tough veto session at the statehouse. We saved what we could and really did pretty well. Probably the strongest up side was that folks who were paying attention to our local legislative issues got a pretty good idea of what we are confronting in terms of the governor and her often indecipherable motives for her vetoes. On the one hand, we are supposed to be about economic development and job creation, and on the other, we get consistent vetoes on a stellar state asset like the Waddell Center.

Even those who don’t follow these things too closely are aware of what Waddell does and the hundreds of jobs and millions of dollars worth of economic activity it supports. This is discounting the quality of life issues residing in the water quality research done by these hard-working state employees. I love my state and am a strong believer in our political process, but sometimes I am simply at a loss to explain how we seem to want to serve certain political abstractions at the detriment to those things that actually work for us. When I placed the line-item veto of the Waddell operations dollars before the House, we overrode the veto by the largest margin of any of the overrides. Senator Tom Davis did his part in the Senate and Waddell is still in business and Al Stokes and his crew will carry on their mission.

With the current dollars in hand, we are going to begin repairs at Waddell. We are going to make it safe, bring the electrical up to code, fix the ponds, fix the roofs, and make absolutely certain that none of our employees or visitors are put at risk by the fact of a thirty-year-old facility, starved of maintenance dollars, is an imperfect work environment. Rep. Newton and I have pledged that we will secure the appropriate renovation funding when we reconvene in January.

My thanks to the many of you, including Jimmy McIntire, Dave Harter, head of the HHI Sportfishing Club, Collins Doughtie, columnist, and all the others who called and emailed to help my legislative colleagues understand the extent of local support for this productive installation of the SC Department of Natural Resources.

The budget process was somewhat kinder to the parity funding for USCB. Although we are still somewhat below complete parity with other USC students around the state, the efforts of Chancellor Jane Upshaw, Vice Chancellor Lynn McGee, and USC President Harris Pastides, made a huge impression on the General Assembly. We will resume this good work on the second Tuesday of January.

We will carry over a few bills of local concern to the second part of our two-year session. The golf cart bill will be passed next time. It makes sense for Sun City and for our neighbors on Daufuskie Island and for all those around the state in similar circumstances. The reform of the gaming statutes will continue as we make our laws congruent with other forward-looking states that see little harm in playing cribbage or dominoes while drinking a glass of wine.

On a more serious note, our failure to enact meaningful ethics reform was a huge disappointment--same for the failure to reform the FOIA regime. The good news here is that my colleague and friend, Rep. Weston Newton has emerged as the voice of responsibility with regard to these matters on Judiciary Committee. His commonsense contribution to the process will ensure that when ethics reform does pass, it will be real reform, not simply optical change.