More of What They’re Saying…

April 27, 2015 in Legislative Updates by Tommy Pope

More of What They’re Saying…

“The chief executive of Sonoco, the state’s largest home-based company…said the state’s poor roads will stall industrial recruitment and cause existing companies to expand elsewhere. ‘Like anybody else, I don’t want to pay any more taxes, but … we have to do something.’ Bad roads also are a risk to the company’s drivers, M. Jack Sanders said. ‘There is a potential safety issue. There are insurance and liability issues as well.’(T)he Sonoco chief executive said his company would have to consider expanding elsewhere if the roads are not fixed. ‘Certainly it impacts our decisions,’ Sanders said. ‘It’s about the bottom line and the cost to expand. It would be really unfortunate (lawmakers) don’t get there.’”

Sonoco CEO Sanders calls for gas tax increase to fix poor SC roads
The State, April 21, 2015

“The South Carolina Tire Manufacturers Council applauds the leadership of House Speaker Jay Lucas, ad hoc Transportation Committee Chairman Gary Simrill and the House for addressing the state’s growing infrastructure problem. The South Carolina Tire Manufacturers Council urges members of the Senate to come together in support of a comprehensive and sustainable funding plan…South Carolina is the largest tire manufacturing state in the nation. We chose South Carolina because of the quality of the workforce, the business climate and the logistics advantages. A safe and reliable road system is critical for our businesses to remain competitive in a global economy. Recognizing the urgency to address our state’s declining infrastructure system, South Carolina’s General Assembly should dedicate sustainable and recurring resources to maintain and improve our infrastructure.”

Chris GullotBridgestone Americas
Ian Musselman, Continental Tire the Americas
Steve EveredMichelin North America

“Year after year, hundreds upon hundreds of issues are discussed in Columbia. Ultimately, each issue boils down to two discussions — the discussion to do nothing and the discussion to do something…Each issue comes down to two different sets of people — people who are willing to do nothing and leaders who are willing to do something. Reps. Allison, Brannon, Cole, Forrester, Hicks and Tallon put pragmatism before politics last week, voted to provide a solution to our state’s most critical problem and demonstrated why they are leaders willing to do something.”

Allen Smith, President and CEO
Spartanburg Area Chamber of Commerce 

 

The House seriously debated a question critical to the future of our state: How we fund a 21st Century road network so we can grow our economy? Supporters of this legislation know this isn’t a simple pro-tax versus no-tax argument.  We’re talking about South Carolina’s ability to create jobs, manufacture goods, and get them to market. Our state’s manufacturing renaissance has led the Upstate’s economic growth…But the best workforce and lowest taxes in the world don’t matter if you can’t get goods to market.  The repair of tens of thousands of miles of inadequate roads is an urgent economic concern that our state leaders must address this legislative session to ensure our economy continues to expand.”

Jason Zacher, Executive Director
Upstate Chamber Coalition

“In a time when our neighboring states have passed infrastructure improvement bills, the House passing its roads plan last week was a critical step forward.  We applaud the House Leadership for their efforts and encourage the Governor, the Senate and the House to continue working together to find a solution to our state’s infrastructure needs.”

Jim Newsome, President & CEO
South Carolina Ports Authority 

“The Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce’s top legislative priority is securing new dedicated funding to address South Carolina’s infrastructure issues. We have joined with the business community across this state to ask our legislature to address this issue this year.  To the business community, this is an economic development issue.  If our state is going to sustain the economic growth we’ve experienced in recent years, we must fix our roads. I would like to applaud Speaker Lucas, Representative Simrill and the members of our delegation who supported H.3579 for their leadership in moving this important issue forward.”

Bryan Derreberry, President and CEO
Charleston Metro Chamber of Commerce 

“Our vast transportation system across the state was built on the commitment to a rural farm to market network of roads…It is vital that the General Assembly address our deteriorating roads and bridges by securing a dedicated revenue stream that will go to repair and maintain all roads and bridges across the state, especially those rural farm to market roads…The House action is good for our economyand even more important it is vital for the safety of our citizens. Thank you to the 87 lawmakers who had the courage to perform a core function of our government.”

David WinklesPresident
South Carolina Farm Bureau Federation

 

We commend the South Carolina House of Representatives on taking a big step forward in addressing the needs of our failing infrastructure. We are encouraged that both the House and the governor are speaking the same language when it comes to much-needed improvements to our state’s highway system…A renewed commitment to investing in our roads and bridges throughout South Carolina will lead to more jobs, more tourists and safer traveling conditions for all who live or visit here.

Brad Dean, President and CEO
Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce 

 

“Piecemeal funding for South Carolina’s roads was provided in 2013 from budget redirects, appropriations and one-time surpluses. But long-delayed maintenance, and needed major upgrades will cost hundreds of millions of dollars more than can be taken from existing state funds. The basic road needs are a fiscal reality. A large coalition of statewide associations and local chambers of commerce with personal and business road-user constituencies has confirmed this by objective, rational analysis, and we represent groups that dislike taxation as much or more than any… We urge legislators to act on this initiative in this 2015 session. Because if they don’t, it likely will be years before they can.

SC Trucking Association’s Todd: Veto override may be only road to roads fix
J. Richards Todd, Guest Columnist, The State, April 14, 2015

State House Report #14

April 25, 2015 in Legislative Updates by Tommy Pope

Preparing for Crossover, Body Cameras, Supporting Our Military & Teacher of the Year
 
The South Carolina House of Representatives finished up an extensive amount of committee work in preparation for Crossover Week. Each year, lawmakers spend roughly 4 months hearing testimony and crafting legislation. The end of that 4-month period concludes with the beginning of the crossover period which lands on May 1st for 2015. The crossover period simply demands that no more legislation can be considered by House or Senate, forcing each body to act on the legislation passed by the other body instead of new items in the remaining days of the session. In short, if a bill is going to be passed this year, it has to make it out of at least one chamber prior to this deadline. 
If there is a particular piece of legislation you’re concerned about that hasn’t been passed leading up to crossover date, I hope you’ll contact me about it.
House Committees passed numerous pieces of legislation, some of which I have listed below:
 
House Ways and Means Committee
Certificate of Need H3250
Needy Children’s Clothing Tax Exemption H3062
Giving Back to Our Veterans Act H3147
Capitol Police Force H3022
Wetlands Conservation Act H3868
Property Tax Grace Period for Deployed Military H3149
 
House Judiciary Committee
Body Cameras for Law Enforcement H3997
Overdose Prevention H3083
Protecting Homeowners H3248
Humane Methods of Animal Euthanasia H3343
Patent Infringement Act H3682
Uniform Interstate Family Support Act H3766 
 
House Education Committee
In-State Tuition Rates for Military Personnel and Their Dependents H3037
Pilot Program for GED Camps H3353
Jurisdiction of State Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education H3170
Sign Language Interpreters H3390
Snow Days H3512
Hearing Officers for Teacher Dismissal H3560
The bills listed above along with many others head to the House Floor next week where a whirlwind of debate will occur. I’ve highlighted two of these.
 
Body Cameras for Law Enforcement H3997
Recent events have prompted many to look at the viability of body cameras for law enforcement officers. This week the House Judiciary Committee approved a measure developing a pilot program administered by the South Carolina Law Enforcement Training Council to study the use of body cameras on law enforcement officers. The program would span 3 counties and 6 municipalities on an opt-in basis. The Training Council will report their findings to the General Assembly after a 6 month period. Both civil liberties organizations and the law enforcement community support this pilot program and the bill moves to the House floor for debate next week.
 
In-State Tuition Rates for Military Personnel H3037
Rep. Joe Daning (R-Berkeley) sponsored H3037 which grants in-state tuition rates to active duty military and their dependents. Currently, active duty military personnel who have been stationed in South Carolina do not receive in-state tuition rates. This bill grants them that privilege and allows them and their dependents to continue receiving an in-state tuition rate as long as they remain continuously enrolled. I’m look forward to supporting this measure on the House floor next week.
Each year we recognize a Teacher of the Year. I’d like to give my congratulations to this year’s recipient, Suzanne Koty of Sumter High School, along with my sincere appreciation for each of our educators in South Carolina.

As always, it is a privilege to serve you in the South Carolina House. If you ever need help with state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.

Legislative Update- April 24, 2015

April 24, 2015 in Legislative Updates by Tommy Pope

Tommy discusses his travels as Speaker Pro Tem, roads, and guns.

What They’re Saying…

April 22, 2015 in Legislative Updates by Tommy Pope

What They’re Saying…

“With just 24 days left in the legislative session, the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce and Manufacturers Alliance sent legislators a letter urging action. While the groups lay out a broad, five-point plan, they’re not picky on the specifics. What’s unacceptable is for the session to adjourn without a deal, said Ted Pitts, the chamber’s president and CEO.”

 

 “We are one of the fastest-growing states. If we’re going to continue that wonderful growth, somehow, some way, we have to widen our roads and repair our roads,” said Brian Newman, president of Honda of South Carolina, who worries about parts getting damaged on rough roads before arriving at his Timmonsville plant.”

South Carolina business leaders urge action on road funding
Associated Press, April 14, 2015

 

Obviously we are encouraged that they are taking the issue very seriously,” Michelin North America President and CEO Pete Selleck said in an interview. “We are excited to see that underway, and we are reasonably optimistic. It is a tremendous opportunity right now that they have, and it’s really important that they seize that opportunity. It’s important to the future and particularly for the future of our children and our grandchildren.

Michelin chief says lawmakers’ job is figure out how to fix S.C. roads
SCBiz News, April 16, 2015

 

“The heart of this issue is about increasing funding for our roads and bridges. The House bill accomplishes that goal and representatives that supported it made the right call moving it forward. This gives greater hope to an issue that, before the session, started as perhaps the highest priority. This debate shouldn’t involve petty politics. It should involve finding a smart compromise as the session comes to an end. That’s now possible because of the House’s actions.”

Editorial: House roads bill sparks needed state discussion
The Aiken Standard’s editorial board, April 17, 2015

 

“The people that I represent, the fleet owners, are very conservative business people, and they don’t like taxes or regulation anymore than anybody else, probably less than the average person. But, they understand that roads are a capital investment and an investment that only government can provide,” the South Carolina Trucking Association’s President Rick Todd stated.

Road expert: Legislation might put governor in tough situation
WIS TV, April 17, 2015

 

“On Wednesday, the House took the first big step toward finding that compromise… Representatives are to be commended for doing that. House leaders say their entire process has been built on compromise… Many Republicans wanted a much larger tax cut than the one that was added to garner their support; many Democrats wanted much more money raised for roads, and much more money sent back to county governments to deal with local road needs. But as a result of the compromises, an astounding 87 of 124 House members voted for the bill — more than enough to override the governor’s promised veto; only 20 opposed it. Now it’s the Senate’s turn… Too often, our legislators focus only on getting a bill passed in their own chamber. That lets them brag that they did their job, but it accomplishes nothing for our state. In other words, they did not do their job. What we expect is for senators to be as committed to passing a bill that can become law as House members have been. If they are, there’s no reason the improvements can’t start within the year.”

 

Editorial: Now it’s SC Senate’s turn to compromise on road-repair plan
The State’s editorial board, April 18, 2015

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