Rose and I are happy to announce that the Newton clan is reinstalled in our repaired and somewhat renovated home after our nearly catastrophic fire. We are grateful for all the help and good wishes. Our appreciation of our many blessings has never been more vivid or heartfelt.
As these things sometimes happen, firefighters from around the state gathered in Columbia week before last and hosted a lunch for the legislature on the grounds of the statehouse. It gave me an opportunity to personally thank the Bluffton folks for what they did for my family, and for many other local families.
These highly trained professionals routinely enter burning buildings and find and retrieve people who might otherwise not make it. That said, they would much rather teach you how to avoid a fire, or be alerted to a fire by a working smoke alarm, or show you how to get the most out of a fire extinguisher to keep a small fire from becoming a catastrophe.
Later this spring, Representative Herbkersman and I are planning to give our local firefighting men and women an opportunity and a venue, likely the Promenade, to demonstrate proper and effective fire extinguisher use, and what kind of extinguisher should be in your kitchen, or on your boat, or in your shop. It will also give the community an opportunity to not only learn from these brave folks, but to show them that we also appreciate and respect their service and their professionalism.
At the risk of going a little “inside baseball,” I want to share with you a new legislative tool that looks to make your state government more effective and efficient. Since its creation in December 2014, the House Legislative Oversight Committee has been hard at work. We have held three organizational meetings to date. At the first of those meetings, I was elected chairman of the committee, an unexpected honor that both doubled my workload, and multiplied my anticipation at being a part of a process very likely to dramatically increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your state government. There has been talk for years of a more nimble, cost-effective government. This is the first step on the path to that goal.
Over the next seven years, each agency and department of your state government will undergo a programmatic review. Among other things, we will scrutinize their agency goals to see if they are current for today’s needs. Are they meeting their goals, and how do they measure success and by what metrics? The twenty members, divided into five subcommittees, of Legislative Oversight Committee (LOC) are already meeting with their assigned agencies, preparing to receive the detailed information that will guide our inquiries.
No matter how rigorous our review, this process will not achieve its goals unless we can attract and hold public attention and participation. Our system of government thrives or withers commensurate with the degree of participation of “We the People.” To that end, Speaker Jay Lucas will join me in a free webinar, hosted by the State Library to discuss the House LOC process and how you can take an active part. Whether through online surveys, public hearings, or receiving notifications when a particular agency is up for study, we need to hear from you.
The webinar will be held Thursday, April 16, 2015 from 9 a.m. to 9:45 a.m. The link is: If you can’t attend live, then go to the LOC webpage by going to: and clicking on “Citizen’s Interest” tab at the top of the page, then go to “House Legislative Oversight” link.
Don’t forget– Speaker Jay Lucas and Speaker Pro Tem Tommy Pope will headline the Beaufort County Republican Convention this Saturday, 11 April, from 9 a.m. to noon at Bluffton High School.

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