Dear Friends and Neighbors,
As we begin this new year, I would like to wish you all a safe and prosperous 2019. And as we start this new legislative session, I continue to be optimistic about the opportunities this session will bring. We have several changes in leadership and will be welcoming two new committee chairmen for House Judiciary and House Ways and Means committees. I will continue to serve on Judiciary and House Ethics committees, as well as the Joint Citizens and Legislative Committee on Children. I also have been elected Secretary of House Ethics.
I have prefiled several bills and look forward to working on those important issues as well as other issues in the upcoming year, a few of which are outlined below.
As always, I will be focusing my energy and attention on improving work-force development and job growth in South Carolina, as well as working on women's issues, children's issues, and issues affecting our aging population.
1. VC Summer Plant, SCANA, and Santee Cooper
While it appears that a Dominion/SCANA deal is imminent, we still will be debating the future of Santee Cooper and will continue to work towards fixing the state regulatory system that enabled this nuclear debacle to happen.
The US Surgeon General has described the use of vaping products, like JUUL, an epidemic among adolescents. I have prefiled four (4) bills, along with Representative Kirkman Finlay, to help combat adolescent's use of these addictive products. The legislation will strengthen third party age verification upon purchase and delivery of these products; will prevent minors under the age of 18 from entering vaping stores; and directs implementation of a no vapingpublic school policy. Here is a link to a WLTX story on this issue https://www.wltx.com/article/news/health/sc-lawmakers-aim-to-limit-minors-access-to-e-cigarettes/101-34ca7448-6ec5-4ba1-a6bc-87f82b41db05.
3. Redistricting Reform
Similar to last year, we will be re-examining how our Congressional and legislative district lines are drawn. I will be co-sponsoring a bipartisan bill which will create an independent redistricting commission to prevent the drawing of lines for purposes of partisan advantage or incumbent protection. Politics should be taken out of the process. Voters should choose their elected officials rather than we, as politicians, choosing our voters. I will be participating in a public forum sponsored by the League of Women Voters on this issue on Tuesday, January 22, 2018, from 5:30-7:00 pm at the Richland Library, Main Branch. If interested, please plan on attending.
4. Voting Machines
To preserve the integrity of our elections, a group of bi-partisan Senators and House members have prefiled legislation to replace our outdated voting machines with a new system providing a paper audit trail. Senator Thomas McElveen is leading this effort in the Senate and I, along with Representatives Kirkman Finlay and Todd Rutherford, are leading it in the House
5. Background Checks for Gun Purchases - Closing the "Charleston Loophole"
In light of the continual mass shootings in our schools and places of worship, common sense gun safety reform legislation is long overdue. To prevent criminals from purchasing a gun, I have re-filed legislation which would prevent anyone with a criminal background from purchasing a firearm. This would close what is commonly referred to as the "Charleston Loophole" by extending the current waiting period of three days to five days. Convicted murderer Dylan Roof would not have been permitted to purchase his gun if the law required a clear background check before purchasing a firearm.
6. Immediate Action to Reform K-12 Public Education Funding
This is always one of the primary challenges facing our public schools in South Carolina -- the broken system used to fund them. There is a proven, 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 no matter where you live.
If you would like to discuss any of these issues or have any questions, please feel free to contact me anytime.
Thank you for allowing me to represent you and our community at the State House.
Happy New Year!