Last week was pretty slow in the Senate. Here are the highlights –
CATHERINE TEMPLETON, NOMINEE FOR COMMISSIONER OF DHEC – After breaking a filibuster, the Senate voted 38-3 to confirm Catherine Templeton as the new Commissioner of DHEC. I voted to confirm. Here is an article from The State about the vote.
DHEC PERMIT FOR GEORGIA TO DREDGE SAVANNAH RIVER – Last Fall, Georgia asked DHEC for a permit to dredge the Savannah River in order to deepen the Port of Savannah. DHEC staff denied the permit, but DHEC’s board overruled that decision after Gov. Haley asked the board to review the permit application. That decision led to a firestorm of criticism because the Port of Savannah competes directly with the Charleston Port, and the South Carolina Port Authority has been working to expand the Charleston Port and build a new port in Jasper County. Earlier this session, the General Assembly unanimously passed a resolution disavowing the actions taken by DHEC’s board. Governor Haley vetoed that resolution. Following a great deal of discussion, the General Assembly voted to override the governor’s veto. I voted to override. Here is an article discussing the vote.
S.C. IS #1 EXPORTER OF VEHICLES AND TIRES – According to a report from the U.S. Department of Commerce, South Carolina exported more vehicles and tires in 2011 than any state in the country! The Bridgestone tire manufacturing plant in our district played a huge role in South Carolina earning 30% of the country’s tire market. Here is an articleabout the report, which also underscores the significance of the South Carolina’s port.
BILLS OF INTEREST
COMMON CORE EDUCATION STANDARDS – The Senate Education Committee met last Wednesday and discussed S.604, a bill that would prohibit the State Department of Education from implementing Common Core. As I’ve mentioned in previous emails, in 2010 the State Board of Education adopted this program that would establish a national set of standards to prepare K-12 students for college and careers. Proponents argue Common Core creates higher educational standards that will better prepare our students for college and careers in the 21st century. Opponents express concern that Common Core would actually lower our standards and place much of our K-12 curriculum in the hands of a national organization rather than having those decisions made in South Carolina. After about 20 minutes of discussion, the committee was faced with allowing the Department to implement Common Core statewide or continue the discussion of Common Core at our next meeting. I voted with the majority of the committee members to continue the discussion. I appreciate the valuable input many of you have provided.
HIGH SCHOOL DROP-OUT PREVENTION – The Senate Education Committee also considered H.3164, a bill by Rep. Tom Young (Aiken) that would require high school students to stay in school in order to keep their driver’s licenses. The bill is designed to be one step in tackling South Carolina’s drop-out rate. The Committee voted unanimously to send the bill to the full Senate for consideration.
ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND JOB OPPORTUNITIES
BRIDGESTONE HIRING – The Bridgestone plant in Graniteville announced a significant expansion last Fall. They are now hiring for the new positions. For information on how to apply, go here.
If you know of a business that is hiring, please let me know. I’d love to include that information in the next newsletter so we can get the word out.
LAST WEEK’S MEETINGS
On Monday morning, I joined other members of the Aiken County Legislative Delegation for breakfast at the Aiken County Career & Technology Center. Students from North Augusta High School’s culinary class did a great job preparing the breakfast. The Career & Technology Center, located off Highway 1 across from Aiken Technical College, serves approximately 500 students from 5 high schools in Aiken County. Over 95% of Career & Technology Center students graduate on time after learning significant job skills in specific career choices! I was very impressed with the students and the curriculum. Check out their website for more information.
On Tuesday night I attended an annual dinner for the South Carolina Soil and Water Conservation Districts. I had a great time meeting with commissioners from Aiken, Edgefield, Lexington, and Saluda counties. These conservation districts, established in each county and dedicated to the preservation of South Carolina’s natural resources, do a tremendous job of educating young and old about the importance of taking care of our land and resources.
On Thursday night I held a town hall meeting at Pleasant Hill Elementary School in Lexington. We had a nice crowd, and I really appreciate everyone who came out. Please see the list of upcoming town hall meetings below.
On Saturday night I attended the “Sportsman’s Spectacular” at Sweetwater Baptist Church in North Augusta. Over 1,100 people attended this service to honor sportsmen and celebrate the natural resources and wildlife God has entrusted to us. It was a great night; I was really honored to participate.
Red Oak Grove Bridge (Edgefield County) – As everyone who lives in the Westside of Edgefield County knows, the bridge on Red Oak Grove Road has been closed for about 1½ years. SCDOT plans to reopen the bridge in late April or early May. I will give you more information as I receive it.
Town Hall Meetings – I have held over 50 town hall meetings across our Senate district since I was first elected. These meetings are great opportunities for me to keep you updated about what is happening in the General Assembly and, more importantly, allow me to hear from you. I hope you can make it to one of these meetings. Here is a list of meetings scheduled so far –
Gilbert High School
840 Main Street
Lexington High School
2463 Augusta Highway
Circle Fire Department
3321 Columbia Highway (U.S. 378)
Leavelle McCampbell Middle School
82 Canal Street
Midland Valley High School
227 Mustang Drive
Jefferson Elementary School
170 Flint Drive
I am working on scheduling several more town hall meetings in Edgefield, McCormick, and Saluda counties. I will announce the meetings as they are scheduled.
NEW SENATE DISTRICT – Our Senate district has changed because of the 2010 census. The district now contains all of Edgefield County and parts of Aiken, Lexington, McCormick, and Saluda Counties. If you’d like to see the new district map, go here.
VOTING RECORD – If you’d like to see how I voted last week, go here. You can always check to see how I vote by going to my website, www.senatormassey.com, and clicking on the “Voting Record” tab.
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.