State House Report #6

February 20, 2017 in Legislative Updates by Tommy Pope

Remembering Representative Joseph H. “Joe” Neal

This 6th week of the legislative session was marked with sorrow as we lost a friend and colleague, Representative Joseph H. “Joe” Neal of Hopkins, South Carolina. An ordained minister, Reverend Neal was first elected in 1992 and fondly remembered as a “gentle giant” and “friend to all.” His hallmark was a voice of distinction and his passion for the people of our state will remain etched in the hearts of those who knew him and enshrined in the legislative proposals he championed. Please join me in praying for the family, parishioners, and friends of Representative Neal who mourn his death and celebrate his legacy.

The week was spent remembering our friend and colleague. As a result, our work on the House floor was light, but we did continue committee work throughout the week. Of note was the Real ID legislation. A number of years ago the federal government imposed requirements on the issuance of recognized government identification cards such as a driver’s license or stand-alone identification card. It was another federal mandate on states and we fought full compliance to every extent possible on principle.

For years our state, along with many others, applied for and were granted waivers for compliance. However, the time has come where the federal government has said it may no longer grant these special request waivers. Through research and committee testimony, we have determined compliance to carry a price tag of approximately $20 million. While we have again requested another waiver, we are simultaneously preparing to reach full compliance through legislative initiatives. That bill moved out of committee this week and will now be debated on the House floor. This simultaneous approach will ensure no disruption in the lives of the citizens of our state no matter the outcome.

Finally, my colleagues and I were honored to have President Trump back in the Palmetto State Friday morning to celebrate the rollout of Boeing’s new 787-10 Dreamliner. For decades, President Trump has advocated for common-sense policies to get government out of the way of job creators like Boeing. South Carolina House Republicans share President Trump’s zeal for private enterprise and we know with world-class employers like Boeing and others, the future of our state remains bright.

In closing, for those who wish to attend, a public viewing will begin at 11:30 AM Monday, with funeral to follow at 1:00 PM in the same location at:

First Nazareth Baptist Church
2351 Gervais Street
Columbia, SC

As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia.  If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

I Got My Baby Back!!!

February 14, 2017 in Legislative Updates by Tommy Pope

Tommy talks about session today and ends with a valentine message.

State House Report #5

February 11, 2017 in Legislative Updates by Tommy Pope

Business License Reform, Movement on Roads Legislation, & Freedom of Information Act

 

Our 5th week of legislative work in 2017 was the busiest yet as committees and subcommittees continued to iron out a wide variety of legislation. The legislative process requires most bills to begin in committee for in-depth examination prior to being debated and voted upon by the full House body. In fact, hundreds of bills are sent to committees and subcommittees each year, and this week I’ll highlight a few proposals that have moved from committee to the House floor.

 

Business License Reform

Current state law allows cities to levy business licensing fees on businesses that wish to operate within city limits. For years the business community has sought reforms to this structure to reduce the burdens placed on businesses while still ensuring businesses pay their fair share and contribute to the operating funds of cities in which they exist. Business advocates say the current law creates incentives for businesses to locate outside city borders, effectively avoiding the licensing fees, which in turn can drive up the cost of doing business. A pro-business reform that would address these issues has cleared a key House committee this week and now heads to the House floor for a full vote.

 

Movement on Roads Legislation

It’s abundantly clear the number one issue in South Carolina today is addressing the unsafe state of our roads and bridges. We currently lead the nation in traffic fatalities – surpassing even large states like California and Texas in annual traffic deaths. This week a bill aimed at fixing our broken roadways cleared the House budget-writing committee by a vote of 20-0. The legislation would give the Governor control of the South Carolina Department of Transportation, raise the road user fee by 2 pennies per gallon each year for 5 years, and create a Highway Maintenance Trust Fund to ensure 100% of revenues go directly (and only) toward our roads and bridges. The proposal now goes to the House floor for debate and a vote.

 

Freedom of Information Act

Finally, a bill that would establish a Freedom of Information Act Office for use by citizens and journalists has cleared a final vote in the House Judiciary Committee. The pro-transparency measure would streamline the current process used by those seeking access to government documents. After all, government operates in the public sector and the laws instituting the FOIA process are intended to ensure the business of the public remains public. This bill enhances those laws and makes compliance easier and cheaper for both government entities and those seeking government documents alike.

 

As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia.  If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please don’t hesitate to contact me.

February 8, 2017 in Legislative Updates by Tommy Pope

Tommy discusses how committees have been productive, Governor McMaster’s willingness to work with the Legislature and the Infrastructure Bill. Tommy also announces that he will seek the 5th district congressional seat once Congressman Mulvaney is confirmed.
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