Friday, June 16, 2006

Well, the 116th Session is now over. We are in the middle of the 4 year term you blessed me with. We’ve seen many victories and some setbacks, especially in fiscal policy. If you’d like more detail on any issue, please don’t hesitate to holler!
The Good News
Charter School:
We passed legislation making is easier to create charter schools. I’ve been consistently for school choice and this creates more choices and options for parents.
Marriage Amendment: This will amend the SC Constitution to define marriage as one man and one woman. The choice will go to the voters in the November election. This measure will pass easily, but I’d like to see the Palmetto State score a resounding margin. This summer and fall I’m scheduled to speak to several congregations. Although churches are not allowed to endorse candidates, they are free to engage in ballot initiatives. Also, I’ll be distributing bumper stickers and yard signs promoting this definition of marriage.
Jessica’s Law: My first amendment (and first floor debate) was to add capital punishment to Jessica’s Law, legislation being adopted in several states calling for more strict penalties for child predators. Finally, the sentencing passed 38-4. A filibuster attempt was stifled, so now SC’s version of Jessica’s Law is now the nation’s most stringent, garnering national attention.
Eminent Domain: After the summer’s Supreme Court decision (Kelo v. New London, CN), we were prompted to review our state’s eminent domain laws. In the descending opinion, Justice Thomas complimented South Carolina’s policy; however, we found it necessary to tie up some loose ends for more assurance.
Unborn Victim Protection: A simple measure. If you assault a woman with child, and kill her child, you can be charged with murder. Will this concept urge us to devote more respect for the unborn? I certainly hope so.
Castle Doctrine: This bill removes the “duty to retreat” when faced with an intruder in your home or vehicle. It also removes any chances of prosecution or lawsuit against persons protecting their domicile with force.
Blog from the Backbench: Another interesting aspect of my service is the blog (web log) started last year. I was pleasantly surprised one day when a Democrat colleague produced me a print out of his voting record on the various amendments of the property tax debate. He had some grief that I’d left him out of a posting. I gladly corrected the post, but the main issue is that even they are watching and reading. Notice that even pot shots are allowed to remain. This is a fair and balanced outlet.
The Unfortunate News
Fiscal Policy:
The taxpayer did not fair well this year as I found myself fighting a loosing battle on most taxpayer-friendly votes. I’ve always kept in mind that the money spent down in Columbia belongs to you, the taxpayer. Unfortunately, this mentality is drowned in special interests and fans of big, intrusive, growing government. The attitude to separate fiscal from social policy is becoming irrelevant to me. Irresponsible spending is at an abhorrent level!
Tax Rebate: I thought I had a very reasonable amendment in the budget process. Since we have 1.1 billion new dollars this year, let’s return $250 million to the taxpayer? This would total to about $250 per family. At our drugstore, when a customer is overcharged, they are automatically refunded…that’s business. Oh, but not in government. My amendment was tabled 36-10! Sometimes I feel like a lone voice crying in the wilderness.
Property Tax Reform: The Senate passed a squirmy local option plan, an insult to the homeowner I couldn’t vote for, however, the final conference committee plan was a step in the right direction: What to like: 1-removes school operating expenses on your home (about 70%) 2-requires 2/3 vote of the legislature to add this tax back on your home 3-reduces sales tax on food to 3¢ 4-gives 2 sales tax holidays (on everything) after Thanksgiving What to not like: 1-leaves local & school bond property taxes on your home 2-taxes on cars and commercial property remain 3-raises sales tax 1¢
Taxpayer Empowerment Amendment: This is a simple concept. Government spending should not grow faster than population vs. inflation. In other words, why should government spending grow faster than your wallet? This bill did not see the light of day, but I introduced it as the people are demanding an end to reckless spending. Someday, the people will conquer the status quo in Columbia.
Again, I want to thank you for your support. It is an honor to serve you in the General Assembly. God has blessed us with wonderful opportunities to see real change in the democratic process. Please contact me with requests, comments, and even complaints. Have a blessed summer!