A Day in the Life – 14 January 2016

A brief glimpse into a day from the glamorous life of a member of the SC House with tongue firmly planted in cheek.

5:30 am – Awoke to the alarm clock playing Back in the USSR (just kidding). I don’t use one as I’m something of an insomniac anyway. I also have a relentless internal clock that shocks me anytime I’m late – a clock unheard of in the Senate. Prepared for my departure including remembering my House Member lapel pin so that people will show me the proper obsequious manner (just kidding plus that phrase reminds me of an old They Might be Giants song, so I like it). I doubt the security staff really remember me as I’m always mistaken by various people for some other accountant that they know, so I wear the pin as a reminder to staff that I might actually belong in the Statehouse. I always think of the old Groucho Marx line about not wanting to belong to a club that would accept the likes of him as a member . . .

6:45 am – Departed for Columbia with a Naked brand mango fruit smoothie in hand. Which is a really weird name for a health drink and I shouldn’t admit it but they are actually good and seem to be nutritious. At least I think they make me feel better or I’m just highly suggestible. And it keeps me away from the drive-thru’s on the way down I26 which, by the way, resembles a food wasteland that only T. S. Eliot could describe.

8:50 am – Arrived in Columbia having avoided wrecking my truck twice using the evasive driving skills learned in Mr. McSherry’s drivers ed class held one long hot summer in a Ford Fairmont with light blue vinyl upholstery and no air conditioning. I also protected my mind by avoiding talk radio.

9:00 am – Walked into a scheduled meeting with the chair of the Education Committee on time. I serve on this committee and chair the k-12 subcommittee. We discussed pending and newly filed bills. Our discussion did not include the bills being finalized from the task force created last year by the Speaker in response to the Abbeville SC Supreme Court decision. That should be next week.

10:00 am – Session begins. A few new bills were filed. The judicial candidates who made it through screening were announced magically transforming the parking garage bridge into a gauntlet of back slaps and hand shakes. Third reading was given to a moped regulation bill that I voted against on second reading because the restrictions contained in the bill were almost too complex for me to understand sober much less understood by the poor people who ride mopeds. It’s not a bad bill – probably the best to be made of a bad situation, but it just had too much in it. I answered a few legislative emails and clapped a couple of times for somebody.

11:00 am – Session adjourns. I spoke and grimaced with a couple of members about bills they were working on – bond bills and refugee bills and such.

11:15 am – Stopped by my office in the Blatt Building to check on correspondence. Almost all of it came from special interest groups. Utilized the most important piece of office equipment that I was issued as a freshman legislator – the trash can.

11:30 am – Arrived at my next sub-committee meeting. In addition to the Education Committee, I also serve on the Legislative Oversight Committee aka the hob-nailed boot committee. The LOC has subpoena power and everyone who testifies is sworn in. We have the time to examine spending patterns in detail and have the power to audit. The LOC education sub-committee that I serve on (education, education, education) has been examining the First Steps agency. This is our 4th meeting and we have been examining in particular the high levels of carry-forward cash they retain at the end of each year. We also asked detailed questions about the k4 program and how many children could have been served with the retained cash. Along with the education sub-committee, I also serve on the LOC ad hoc committee examining Planned Parenthood.

2:30 pm – The LOC education sub-committee meeting marathon finally ends with no break since 11:30 and no lunch. Nothing to eat since the fruit smoothie other than a Coke. Thanked staff for their help (and they are sincerely excellent) and went back to my office.

3:00 pm – Left Columbia and caught up on business telephone calls using my hands free system. Got to keep up with my two-handed evasive driving skills.

5:15 pm – Arrived home in Blue Ridge and saw the mountains before it became dark.

5:30 pm – Departed for Greer with family to find supper.

6:00 pm – Grabbed a BLT and a bowl of soup at The Clock Restaurant in Greer. Nice to be back in reality with home folks who don’t care if I wear a lapel pin.

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Tommy Stringer