October 2014 Update

 In a little over two weeks, we will go to the polls for the midterm elections. Absentee voting is currently under way. There are a number of uncontested positions, including mine, but there are also plenty of serious races, as well as several important referendum issues. None of these is more important than the referendum to continue the good work of the Beaufort County Rural and Critical Lands Preservation Program.
   During my ten plus year chairmanship of Beaufort County Council, it was the centerpiece of our environmental and development control efforts. It also dovetailed perfectly with our energetic water quality measures. It protected and expanded literally thousands of jobs in defense and agriculture, as well as preserved many places that just shouldn’t be developed at all. There is still much work to be done for this nationally recognized program.
   Unfortunately, some months ago, as Beaufort County Council was struggling with several different referendum proposals, there was a plan floated to change the Rural and Critical referendum language to essentially allow the county to enter the development business. Fortunately, this change was rejected, but there is still confusion in some quarters. Most council members understand that such a move would be the end of one of the most effective county programs in a generation. The current referendum in no way allows the county into the development business, but does allow the good work of this excellent program to continue.
   As the 2015 legislative session approaches, preparation is accelerating. My work on Judiciary Committee last session has resulted in Acting Speaker Jay Lucas , a Republican from Spartanburg, appointing me to the Ethics Study Committee as chairman of the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) Subcommittee. Also, due to my long experience with funding and building and improving transportation infrastructure in Beaufort County, I am also appointed to the Transportation Study Committee as well. Your representative is, I think, the only member holding dual appointments.
   Both committees are charged with making recommendations in their respective areas on or about the beginning of session on the second Tuesday of January 2015. In my view, we should charge hard on the ethics issue from the outset. Members are universally chagrined to read the headlines in the national press referring to indictments of South Carolina elected officials. While we are all saddened by those events, they should serve as motivation for us to get our ethics regime in good order with all deliberate speed. In my experience, once the electorate understands we are serious, that we work for them and not ourselves, then, and only then, will we have even a small chance to effectively tackle the formidable challenges facing us, such as our looming transportation deficits.
   As conservatives, we are loathe to even consider raising taxes, or fees, or levies of almost any kind. Yet, our first Transportation Committee staff presentation outlined a 30-year transportation deficiency of more than $42 BILLION to bring our roads and bridges up to fair quality. To answer this challenge will take creativity and courage. Fiscal convictions will be pitted against the safety of our families and the prosperity of our businesses. Above all, it will test the trust of the electorate in our wisdom, abilities, and our trustworthiness.
In the coming months, I will provide details on each of these matters, as well as the Jasper County education situation.