Wednesday, November 27, 2013

From the House

Bluffton Today

Many thanks for all the good comments on my last, as well as to our friends from Jasper County who turned out for our recent legislative delegation meeting. Sometimes, our Jasper delegation meetings seem to become unfortunately and unnecessarily contentious, with issues that should have been sorted out generations ago. In my opinion, this is because some folks are just stuck in the 60s and 70s and don’t want to change. So be it. Time always cures such conflict.

I had a lot of calls about H.3290, which is the Flow Control Bill, but which has been misleadingly dubbed the Business Freedom To Choose Act by those anxious to benefit from this ill-conceived measure. The misnomer may sound pretty good, but truthfully, it doesn’t promote competition or freedom, but simply allows out-of-state concerns to bring their trash to our state rather than absorb the bother and expense of utilizing their own facilities.
If this all sounds familiar, it’s because this legislator fought a similar bill almost a decade ago, only it was nuclear waste that out-of-state concerns wanted to dump in our state. We fought it tooth and nail and finally prevailed. Friends, we are not going to allow our state to become a dumping ground for other’s waste, whether it is medical, nuclear, or household and commercial trash.

The current iteration of this boondoggle was sold to many in the legislature by claims that it only had to do with Horry County, which is patently untrue. I have tried for some time to have a conversation with the trash industry people behind this, but have met only silence. In this case, what is great for New York and New Jersey is bad for South Carolina, and particularly bad for Beaufort County.

Here’s the deal. Landfills are a somewhat necessary evil. Their locations have to be carefully chosen, their construction has to be almost perfect to avoid environmental contamination, and they have a limited lifespan. Our current landfill is in Jasper County and is less than ten years away from the end of it’s useful life. Beaufort County has no appropriate locations for landfills, so the county and municipalities are gearing up to have to haul our trash to installations farther away. If we welcome trash from all over to be trucked to our state, a supply and demand situation will dictate our disposal costs will rise, probably substantially. County and municipal budgets are all strained as it is, and we should not be raising our taxes for the convenience of New York and New Jersey.
I am not that happy with the current level of our taxation as it is, I certainly would not be for any bill that would essentially allow our tax dollars to flow to out-of-state trash haulers and landfill operators. Not surprisingly, Weston Newton and I have fought this bill, and will continue to do everything we can to kill it. One problem is that the bill is extremely convoluted, which allows the trash lobby to focus on this or that section and hope we will overlook the main thrust of the measure, which is detrimental to our state’s interests.

Before I get too worked up, I want to wish you all a great holiday. We have so much to be thankful for, living in this beautiful part of the South Carolina Lowcountry. If there is a bright side to this landfill matter, it might get us to think a little more about being careful with what we discard. Maybe recycle or compost more, or work to attract an innovative group of companies doing creative recycling, creating jobs and less need for landfills. That’s something we could all be thankful for.