Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As this year comes to an end, I am enthusiastic about the opportunities 2016 will bring, and I look forward to working on several important issues in the upcoming legislative session, some of which are outlined below.
Comprehensive Flood Recovery Plan
The 1,000-year flood of October 2015 placed a tremendous hardship on many South Carolina families, workers, and small business owners, especially in our local community. The floods severely handicapped local government (cities, counties and school districts) in the impacted areas. While the floodwaters have receded, many of us still face daunting efforts to recover. I believe the state should assist in the recovery and provide all tools available to residents of those impacted areas so we are able to make a full recovery.
Along with Representative James Smith, I have pre-filed legislation to help flood victims including offering individual and families grant funds, small business grant opportunities, and loans to cities and counties impacted by the flooding. I will work hard to ensure all South Carolinians impacted by the flood are made whole again.
2. Infrastructure – A Practical, Sustainable, Non-partisan approach
This year, the General Assembly must take responsible action to find stable and sufficient funds to fix our depleted state infrastructure system, while simultaneously planning for the infrastructure needs of the future. A modern infrastructure system is needed to guarantee we fully meet our economic development potential as a state. This need has become even more dire because of the damage done by the 1,000 year flood.
3. Immediate Action to Reform K-12 Public Education Funding
The number one challenge facing public schools in South Carolina is the broken system used to fund our public schools. There is a direct link between economic development and education. High-quality public schools is the key foundation piece necessary for South Carolina’s long-term economic success and work-force development. We need to improve the system, pass meaningful legislation, and guarantee all South Carolina students have the opportunity for a high quality education.
4. Comprehensive Ethics Reform.
The Senate has not approved the comprehensive ethics reform legislation (H.3722) that the House passed earlier this year. This legislation, which I was proud to co-sponsor, involves increased transparency and disclosure in how we, as legislators, spend our campaign dollars; require disclosure of our sources of income to ensure there are no conflicts of interest in how we vote or legislate; and reconstitute the membership of the Ethics Commission.
5. Cervical Cancer Prevention Act.
Although the House passed by 83-27 the “Cervical Cancer Prevention Act,” which I proudly sponsored, the Senate failed to pass this important legislation because of one Senator’s objection. This legislation will save South Carolina lives. It will allow DHEC to offer the HPV vaccine to students enrolling in 7th grade and allow it to develop and provide informational brochures concerning the vaccine.
If you would like to discuss any of these issues or have any questions, please feel free to contact me anytime.
I wish you all a safe and prosperous 2016!