Aiken Standard Article February 1, 2009

We are three weeks into the 2009 legislative session at the South Carolina House of Representatives and this column is to let you know what is going on at your State House.

First, I have sponsored or cosponsored several bills including legislation to require more roll call votes; to allow the governor to appoint most of the currently elected constitutional officers; to require the governor and lieutenant governor to run together on the same ticket; to increase the penalty and jail time for online sexual predators; to set up a legislative commission for comprehensive tax reform; to establish a Department of Administration to consolidate state government and put more state agencies under the control of the governor; to create a dedicated source of funding for road and bridge infrastructure improvements; to create a permanent source of funding for the state law enforcement academy; to limit spending in the state budget; to regulate pay day lenders; and to decrease the number of school districts statewide to save educational resources.

Second, I have been appointed to two committees: the House Judiciary and the Governor’s Nuclear Advisory Committees. On the Judiciary Committee, we will be busy with a number of bills that have been filed pertaining to our election laws and our criminal justice system. On the Governor’s Nuclear Advisory Committee, I am working to maintain and strengthen state support for the Savannah River Site in addition to developing a long term vision for the Site’s role in nuclear and other alternative energy research.

Third, to help address the budget shortfall and because we cannot end the legislative session early without Senate approval, the South Carolina House decided not to meet during at least four weeks this Spring which will save taxpayers $50,000 each week and at least $200,000 total. One solution for a leaner, more efficient legislative process is to shorten permanently the number of weeks that the legislature meets in Columbia each year. I am a cosponsor of the legislation filed to shorten the legislative session.

Fourth, I have been working with other members of our legislative delegation to monitor the federal economic stimulus package in an effort to help Aiken County get its fair share of anticipated funding.

My first town meeting for interested citizens to attend is this coming Monday, February 2, 2009 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the H. Odell Weeks Center in Aiken on Whiskey Road. I am also planning other town meetings for other parts of the District for later in February and March. These will be publicized in the paper and on the web.

Even if you cannot attend a town meeting, please know that I am always available to you and your family should you ever need assistance. I will do my best to listen to you; to help with your constituent concerns; and to be responsive to your requests. I can be reached by telephone (649-0000); email (; regular mail (P.O. Box 651, Aiken, SC 29802); or just pull me aside when you see me. Recently, I have talked with many of you about lots of issues including state retirement; energy needs; road and drainage concerns; education; conservation; and long term care. Your opinions and recommendations are very helpful to me.

Finally, I have set up a website – – which you can access for periodic updates about what is going on at the State House and in our District. This site will continue to improve this Spring as I work to represent you.

Thank you for the privilege and the opportunity to represent you. I am determined to work on your behalf to make our State Government more efficient; effective; and accountable.

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