Wednesday, July 24, 2013

From the House

Bluffton Today

I continue to get a lot of calls from our friends over in Sun City regarding the gambling legislation. I am happy to report that this representative is working on the matter, with the able and necessary collaboration of Chief Keel of the South Carolina Law Enforcement Division (SLED), the Attorney General’s office, Senator Tom Davis and Representative Weston Newton. The substance of our work is a set of definitions that allow the type of harmless social activity we have been asked to allow, while not opening the door, even a crack, to admit the proponents of pernicious “video poker” type activity.

If we are to judge by a recent editorial in a local newspaper, a bill to allow ladies at the country club to have a glass of wine while playing Canasta, Hearts or even Go fish would somehow be a pathway for the clever legal minds of the industrial gambling complex to reinstate the dreaded video poker. I have even gotten two emails agreeing that the danger is just too great to chance it. We must endure what all agree is silliness in order to protect ourselves from this horrific specter.

By contrast, we have received, in total, several hundred calls, emails and notes stating that silliness is silliness and they want it to stop.

My take on this is that we can, in concert with the exceptional minds referenced above, come up with a good bill, with proper definitions, to allow card or dice games to coexist with alcohol in appropriate settings, without irrational fear that the world will end. It is an issue, in my view, of freedom. Playing the video gambling card, while rhetorically effective, should not justify 19th century mores, and law, for 21st century citizens.

Continuing in matters of interest to Sun City, My pal Weston Newton and I were guests of Tom Favor in the studio of Sun City Television. We did a two-part series answering questions on the first half of the 2013-2014 legislative session. We got to visit with my friend Marty Caprillian, as well as enjoy the famous Sun City hospitality. I hope you will make an effort to catch the programs as they give you some interesting insight into what happened this go-round in Columbia and what you can expect when we reconvene in January of 2014.

Another interesting insight that you might glean is how your two statehouse representatives embody different, yet complementary styles of law-making. I tend to be interested in the broad strokes of government, how we balance the needs of the commonality with the freedoms of the individual. My friend Weston Newton has a somewhat different perspective, probably because he has, for the last ten years, been intimately involved in the particulars of building roads, the details of environmental protection, and unfortunately, making the best of some of the less than stellar lawmaking that has come down from Columbia. As an attorney, he reads every word of every bill, and is the person who knows exactly where the devil is in the details of any bill.

As you know, predictions in the political business are rarely a good idea. But I predicted that Weston was the missing piece to our delegation and he has proven to be exactly that. I am not the only one impressed by Weston Newton. He makes your delegation stronger, more effective, and more likely to support legislation that is well constructed, and less likely to contain unintended features. It is the perfect complement to my experience, seniority, and positioning.

Next week, I want to return to local issues, as well as make a few comments on the job producing aspects of the Beaufort Jasper Academy for Career Excellence.