State House Report Week 6 – Remembering Rep. Joe Neal

This 6th week of the legislative session was marked with sorrow as we lost a friend and colleague, Representative Joseph H. “Joe” Neal of Hopkins, South Carolina. An ordained minister, Reverend Neal was first elected in 1992 and fondly remembered as a “gentle giant” and “friend to all.” His hallmark was a voice of distinction and his passion for the people of our state will remain etched in the hearts of those who knew him and enshrined in the legislative proposals he championed. Please join me in praying for the family, parishioners, and friends of Representative Neal who mourn his death and celebrate his legacy.

The week was spent remembering our friend and colleague. As a result, our work on the House floor was light, but we did continue committee work throughout the week. Of note was the Real ID legislation. A number of years ago the federal government imposed requirements on the issuance of recognized government identification cards such as a driver’s license or stand-alone identification card. It was another federal mandate on states and we fought full compliance to every extent possible on principle.

For years our state, along with many others, applied for and were granted waivers for compliance. However, the time has come where the federal government has said it may no longer grant these special request waivers. Through research and committee testimony, we have determined compliance to carry a price tag of approximately $20 million. While we have again requested another waiver, we are simultaneously preparing to reach full compliance through legislative initiatives. That bill moved out of committee this week and will now be debated on the House floor. This simultaneous approach will ensure no disruption in the lives of the citizens of our state no matter the outcome.

Finally, my colleagues and I were honored to have President Trump back in the Palmetto State Friday morning to celebrate the rollout of Boeing’s new 787-10 Dreamliner. For decades, President Trump has advocated for common-sense policies to get government out of the way of job creators like Boeing. South Carolina House Republicans share President Trump’s zeal for private enterprise and we know with world-class employers like Boeing and others, the future of our state remains bright.

In closing, for those who wish to attend, a public viewing will begin at 11:30 AM Monday, with funeral to follow at 1:00 PM in the same location at:

First Nazareth Baptist Church

2351 Gervais Street

Columbia, SC

It is an honor and a privilege to serve you in Columbia. If you need help navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me at Tommy@tommystringer.com.

State House Report Week 5 – Business License Reform, Roads Bill & FOI Act

Our 5th week of legislative work in 2017 was the busiest yet as committees and subcommittees continued to iron out a wide variety of legislation. The legislative process requires most bills to begin in committee for in-depth examination prior to being debated and voted upon by the full House body. In fact, hundreds of bills are sent to committees and subcommittees each year, and this week I’ll highlight a few proposals that have moved from committee to the House floor.

Business License Reform

Current state law allows cities to levy business licensing fees on businesses that wish to operate within city limits. For years the business community has sought reforms to this structure to reduce the burdens placed on businesses while still ensuring businesses pay their fair share and contribute to the operating funds of cities in which they exist. Business advocates say the current law creates incentives for businesses to locate outside city borders, effectively avoiding the licensing fees, which in turn can drive up the cost of doing business. A pro-business reform that would address these issues has cleared a key House committee this week and now heads to the House floor for a full vote.

Movement on Roads Legislation

It’s abundantly clear the number one issue in South Carolina today is addressing the unsafe state of our roads and bridges. We currently lead the nation in traffic fatalities – surpassing even large states like California and Texas in annual traffic deaths. This week a bill aimed at fixing our broken roadways cleared the House budget-writing committee by a vote of 20-0. The legislation would give the Governor control of the South Carolina Department of Transportation, raise the road user fee by 2 pennies per gallon each year for 5 years, and create a Highway Maintenance Trust Fund to ensure 100% of revenues go directly (and only) toward our roads and bridges. The proposal now goes to the House floor for debate and a vote.

Freedom of Information Act

Finally, a bill that would establish a Freedom of Information Act Office for use by citizens and journalists has cleared a final vote in the House Judiciary Committee. The pro-transparency measure would streamline the current process used by those seeking access to government documents. After all, government operates in the public sector and the laws instituting the FOIA process are intended to ensure the business of the public remains public. This bill enhances those laws and makes compliance easier and cheaper for both government entities and those seeking government documents alike.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve you in Columbia. If you need help navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me at Tommy@tommystringer.com.

My Infrastructure and Gas Tax Articles, Lest Ye Have Forgotten

For the sake of transparency, short memories, and people who think they know what I think or believe that I’m not conservative, the following are the titles to various articles that I’ve posted over the last four years about roads, bridges, the gas tax (or as it should be called, the motor fuel user fee), and other stuff that I enjoyed writing. To read these articles, please look to the right for a list, or use the search function or just  keeping scrolling through the website.

2017 – The Year of Living Dangerously in the General Assembly

A Short Reflection on the Electoral College Effect

Argus,  Ric Flair and the Looming State Pension Debt

Lee Bright and the Defense of Western Values

The Roads Bill – Reform in Progress

The Roads Bill – How We Will Pay For It

Bumping Old Hickory

The Roads Bill Amendment

The SCDOT Chicken Run

$415 Million of Surplus Revenue Applied to Road Repair

Our “Anybody but Donald Trump” Electoral College Fail Safe

Grading the Senate’s Friday Folder

A Short Reflection Upon Myths and Bad Tax Policy

Trumping the Light Fantastic in Greenville

The Planned Parenthood Roundabout

A Day in the Life – 14 January 2016

Star Wars as History Lesson

SC State Pension Plan Mechanics – A Study of the Short Sighted

SCDOT Yields to Roundabout Pressure

Planned Parenthood Investigation – All Apologies?

Office of Refugee Resettlement – Welcome to Obamaworld

Opposing the Blue Ridge Roundabout – My Letter to SCDOT

Marriage and the Modern General Assembly

Planned Parenthood – Abortion’s New Back Alley

Public Shaming, Borrowed Moral Capital and Kicking the CBF to the Curb

The Confederate Flag Vote – My Response to a Constituent

Toleration, Same Sex Marriage and Protecting Religious Freedom

Learning Curves, Senate Time and Doughnuts

DHEC Oversight of Abortion Clinics

“Sooey! Sooey!” – Our Preferred State Bond Approval Method

The Road Funding Bill Vote – By the Numbers

House Road Plan Debate – Snatching Defeat from the Jaws of Victory

Speaking of State Credit Ratings & Income Tax Cuts

The Bond Defeat – Turning Bad Government into Good

The Bond Issue – More Barry than James

Killing Tillman – Part Three: Our State Budget

Killing Tillman – Part Two: Picking Cotton

Killing Tillman – Part One: The College Years

SCDOT Financial Fun Facts as of June 30, 2014

Filing the Governor’s Road Plan

Paving Roads With Good Intentions

Localizing Road Repair

The SC House Marshmallow Test

Bringing Down the House Feudal System

Saving Taxpayers $1.2 Billion

Fun Home at the Fun House

Tax Reform and Gas Tax Articles

And the list goes on . . .

Tommy Stringer