The 4th week of the 2013 session was pretty slow, but there was some excitement. Here are the highlights –
GOVERNMENT RESTRUCTURING – I’ve given updates the past couple weeks about our push to restructure government by abolishing the Budget & Control Board, creating a new, cabinet-level Department of Administration, prohibiting agencies from running deficits without General Assembly approval, and, probably most importantly, requiring the legislature to conduct oversight of executive agencies.
Last week I told you about opposition from legislators who have become pretty powerful under the existing, inefficient system of government. One of the creative ways to derail the bill this year was a ploy to refer the legislation to the Senate Finance Committee for “study,” i.e. to kill the bill. Fortunately, I was able to work out an agreement to allow the Finance Committee to look at the bill for 3 weeks with the understanding that the full Senate will debate the bill beginning on February 20 and that the bill will be in the status of interrupted debate. In the Senate, one of the biggest procedural hurdles can be getting controversial legislation up for debate. Interrupted debate is the highest priority for debate. By getting an agreement that restructuring would be placed in interrupted debate, we assured that the Senate will debate the bill on February 20. That is a significant win, and I’m hopeful it will allow us to pass the bill by the end of February. Stay tuned.
DEER BAITING – Last week I told you the Senate passed S.91, a bill that would allow hunters to bait for deer (typically with corn) statewide. Since then I have had many emails and phone calls from folks voicing opposition and/or support of that bill. The bill is now in the House Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Environmental Affairs Committee. A subcommittee approved the bill last week. If you’re interested in the bill, you can track its progress here. You can also see when the House committee will meet by checking the House Meeting Schedule on the right side of the statehouse website.
SHAKING THINGS UP – I’ve had several comments over the past week about an article from The State detailing some of the roadblocks I’ve encountered as a result of speaking my mind. Despite opposition from some powerful folks inside the statehouse, I’ll continue to speak out against the entrenched, status quo that holds us back. Thanks for letting me know how you feel. I appreciate all the kind words and support.
JUDICIAL ELECTIONS – On Wednesday, 1/30/13, the House and Senate met in Joint Assembly to elect a slate of new judges for Circuit Court and Family Court. A couple of the Family Court races turned out to be pretty exciting. One race resulted in a tie vote after the first ballot, and a one-vote difference on a second ballot. Another race also was decided by one vote. You can see a list of the newly elected judges here.
AIKEN RECOGNIZED IN NATIONAL ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT MAGAZINE – Business Facilities, a national economic development trade publication, selected South Carolina as a runner-up in its 2012 State of the Year category for economic development. Even more local, Aiken County received an Honorable Mention designation in the 2012 “Deal of the Year” category for the new Bridgestone Off Road Radial Facility being constructed in Sage Mill Industrial Park. Bridgestone is set to begin production in the 1 million square foot facility in early 2014. You can read the write-up here.
LEXINGTON HIGH SCHOOL – Lexington High School’s baseball team has been ranked #5 in the nation by Collegiate Baseball Newspaper’s pre-season poll. Nice job, Wildcats!
TOWN HALL MEETINGS – I have held over 60 town hall meetings throughout our district over the past 4 years, and I really appreciate the hundreds of folks who have participated. These town hall meetings give me a chance to keep you updated about what’s going on in Columbia and, more importantly, allow me to hear what’s on your mind. I’m already working on the next round of meetings, which I hope to schedule for late February and early March. I’ll get the schedule out soon.
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.
EMAIL UPDATES – If you know of people in or around District 25 who do not receive my updates but would like to get them, please email their names and email addresses to me. You can also forward this email to them and encourage them to sign up for the updates at www.senatormassey.com.