The General Assembly is scheduled to adjourn on May 11. That leaves 9 legislative days. Here are the highlights from last week:
ROADS AND BRIDGES – The Senate spent last week debating amendments to H. 3516. In its current form, the bill would raise the gas tax by 12 cents and several fees over the course of 6 years to generate just over $800 million for roads and bridges.
As I have said at many town hall meetings over the past couple years and in dozens of one-on-one conversations about roads and bridges, this is the most divisive issue during my time in the Senate. Nearly everyone agrees that we need to act to repair South Carolina’s decrepit infrastructure, but people disagree, often passionately, about the best way to make those repairs happen.
Many of you have received phone calls or seen Facebook posts from the “Campaign for Liberty,” asking you to contact me to vote “no.” That group advocates for “no compromise” and, therefore, a “no” vote on the bill regardless of what the bill says. On the other hand, many business groups have been advocating for a revenue-only bill to pump more money into SCDOT. Most people I have talked with fall somewhere in the middle. And Senators have been all over the board, reflecting the division in the public.
I have spent a good bit of time over the past few years studying SCDOT along with South Carolina’s budget and tax structure. Based on what I have learned, I am confident we can do more to ensure SCDOT is more efficient and accountable.
I am also convinced SCDOT needs more money to do what we all expect SCDOT to do. Having said that, I will not vote for a revenue-only bill. However, I would support additional funds to SCDOT if the bill includes sufficient offsets for working South Carolinians and further reforms at SCDOT. Either way, I believe it is imperative that the bill get a vote soon.
The Senate will continue work on amendments to H. 3516 this week and, hopefully, vote on the bill by the end of the week.
Last Week’s Meetings
On Thursday night, I attended Edgefield County GOP’s convention.
On Friday night, I attended the Midland Valley Chamber of Commerce’s annual banquet.
On Saturday morning, I attended Lexington County GOP’s convention.
On Saturday afternoon, I threw out the first pitch for the Strom Thurmond vs. Fox Creek baseball game. The pitch was a little outside, but I didn’t bounce it!
SCDOT PROJECTS – SCDOT Secretary, Christy Hall, recently appeared before the Senate Transportation Committee to present an annual State of the SCDOT. You can view Secretary Hall’s power point presentation here.
WANT TO SEE THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN ACTION? – The Senate meets in statewide session on Tuesdays at 2:00, Wednesdays at 12:00, and Thursdays at 11:00. Committees and subcommittees meet Tuesday mornings, Wednesday mornings, and Thursday mornings. You can watch live coverage of the Senate, House of Representatives, and committees here.
OUR SENATE DISTRICT – Senate district 25 consists of all of Edgefield County and parts of Aiken, Lexington, McCormick, and Saluda Counties. If you’d like to see the district map, go here.
SPEAKING WITH GROUPS – Several groups, clubs, and classes around our Senate district have invited me to attend their meetings and provide legislative updates. If you would like for me to come speak with your group, please let me know.
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