Bill's Straight Talk -- Legislative News


February 10, 2019: Mega Billion $$$ Question


We are a month into the new legislative session. Momentum is picking up and progress is being made as committees begin moving legislation to the House floor for debate. In the coming weeks, expect to see developments with the education reform bill, a plan for reforming the tax system and an outline for next year's budget. Here's this week's top-line legislative overview.

Santee Cooper - The Mega-Billion $ Question

Whether to keep or sell Santee Cooper, the state-owned electrical utility, is the mega-billion dollar question before the legislature. The legislative committee studying whether to sell Santee Cooper received a detailed report this week summarizing the top four offers to buy the utility. Three of the offers would ensure the 2 million customers who get power from Santee Cooper would pay no more for the failed V.C. Summer nuclear plant. Currently, Santee Cooper customers are on the hook for roughly $6,200 more per household in higher rates over the next four decades to pay off the power plant debt. Customers of the twenty electric co-ops are obligated to pay about $4,200 per household because they get their power from Santee Cooper.

Tax Reform Picking Up Momentum

The House Tax Review Policy Committee, a bipartisan committee appointed by the speaker last year, met this week to continue its exploration how to modernize our state's tax structure that is a hodge-podge of laws cobbled together over the past 70+ years. During the meeting I joined others in calling for a bold plan that will reduce income taxes and broaden the base of sales taxes resulting in much fairer tax rates across the board for all South Carolinians. For those who wish to learn more.


Curbing Distracted Driving - Ready for House Debate

For the second time in two weeks, a House Committee has advanced the legislation (H.3355) I'm sponsoring to curb distracted driving in SC. On an 11-3 vote the full House Education Committee sent the bill to the House for debate and a vote which could happen in the next week or two. The 'Hands Free' legislation calls for drivers to hang-up their phone and other electronics and drive. Drivers can still talk on their cell phones but need to use a speaker and not hold their phone. Sixteen states, including Georgia, have a 'Hands Free' law with Virginia is poised to be the 17 with passage by their senate this Tuesday.


SC's "CON" Job Needs to Go

I have long supported the repeal of SC's government-driven, crony capitalist system called Certificate of Need (CON). I joined Rep. Nancy Mace in cosponsoring her bill (H. 3823) that would fully repeal CON. It is a restrictive law that requires government permission be obtained before any new health care facility is built or expanded - or even if a new service is offered at an existing facility. This law has allowed some hospitals to hold a monopoly and those medical providers seeking a CON are required to navigate a labyrinth of red tape and sometimes years in delays. According to George Mason University's Mercatus Center, CON laws lead to higher health care spending, fewer hospitals and a lower quality of care. Their study further shows the presence of a CON program is associated with fewer hospitals in rural, suburban and urban areas alike.

Education Reform - Speak Up

Want your ideas to be heard on reforming SC's education system? I invite you to attend a rare evening hearing by the subcommittee shaping the legislation. Public input on H.3759, the education reform bill, will be Tuesday, February 12th starting at 4:45 pm in room 110 in the Blatt Building on the Statehouse grounds. If you wish to testify, please sign the "Speaker" sheet provided at the meeting. Please limit testimony to no more than five minutes. If you cannot attend the meeting, please express your views by filling out this online survey:


Aiken's Retired Teachers

It was a joy Friday morning to speak to members of the Aiken County Retired Teachers Association at their Woodside Country Club breakfast. There were hundreds of years of knowledge and experience among them and their service has positively impacted generations. I'm pictured with one of Aiken's favorite teacher, Beverly Giles.


Legislative News in Brief


Judicial Elections
On Wednesday, we held a joint assembly bring the House and Senate together to elect judges for the Court of Appeals, Family Court and Circuit Court. We elected a diverse group of judges that represent SC's judicial system in the highest regard. Check out the complete list of the elected judges: Judges Elected

Need More Poll Workers
The House approved a bill revising qualifications for poll workers to allow for a more expansive pool of eligible workers to meet the current shortage. The legislation (H.3035) allows someone who is registered as a voter in SC to serve as a poll worker anywhere in the state, replacing more restrictive provisions that require poll workers to reside in the area where the primary or election is being held. The State Election Commission sought the change.

Judge Tosses SC Voting Machine Lawsuit

A federal judge Friday tossed out a lawsuit alleging that SC's antiquated voting machines are so flawed that they put the constitutional rights of voters at risk. The judge said imperfect voting machines may present some conceivable risk, but plaintiffs failed to show there was a "substantial" risk that their right to vote could be jeopardized.

Teen Vaping Restrictions Passes
Legislation to make it harder for SC teenagers to get their hands on e-cigarettes passed the House unanimously. The affects more than 400 brands that come in more than 7,000 flavors. E-Cigarette manufacturers supported the teen restrictions in H.3420

Coyote Bounty
One state senator introduced a bill (S.489) calling for a $75 on every killed coyote. He would pay for it by adding $1 to state hunting license fees. There is no disagreement that coyotes have become a costly nuisance and a threat across the SC. The population has gotten far out of hand with an estimated 350,000 coyote's roaming the state. Sen. Stephen Goldfinch says he thinks it's time for hunters and other sportsmen to go to war with coyotes.

Personhood Legislation
The so-called "personhood" legislation (S.485), which would stipulate that life begins at conception and grant the unborn at that moment all rights as any other citizen, has been reintroduced in the state senate. It would effectively ban abortions and would allow the possibility for prosecutors to pursue a criminal case against individuals who willfully perform abortions. Last year, a similar bill to ban nearly all abortions except for cases of rape, incest and risk to the mother's life failed in the Senate after an hours-long filibuster.

SC's Domestic Violence Ranking Drops
Just a few years ago SC was ranked #1 among states for being the deadliest for women. In response, the legislature overhauled our domestic violence laws increasing the penalties for offenders and passing a mandatory lifetime ban on gun possession for those convicted of the most serious charges of domestic violence. The new report released this week shows SC has dropped to 6th place in state ranking for the highest incidence of domestic violence. We're moving in the right directions.

Lucky Me!

Thank goodness they put me back in 5th grade Friday! I joined Aiken 5th Graders at the Children's Symphony Concert at USCA's Etheridge Center. It's the 25th year the Aiken Symphony Guild has sponsored the concert series. For some of these kids this is the first time they have been introduced to a live orchestral performance. My longtime pal, Joe Pinner, "Mr. Knozit", of WIS-TV fame, was the MC for the concerts.


Picture of the Week


The flags over the South Carolina State House were lowered to half-staff Tuesday in memory of Aiken’s Irene Rudnick. Gov. McMaster ordered the flags lowered to honor Irene who was a long-serving State Representative. As an attorney, she served for many decades as an adjunct professor at USCA. A true civic leader!


I'm Available and AT YOUR SERVICE

It is my honor to be of service to you. If you need assistance navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.

February 2, 2019: "Let's Make a Deal"


Word came late Friday that the state of South Carolina has received four legitimate offers to make a deal to buy all of Santee Cooper, the state-owned utility. That would pay off the $8 billion in debt resulting from the financial fiasco brought on by the failed construction of the V.C. Summer nuclear power plant that resulted in the sale of SCANA to Dominion Energy.

Ratepayers & Taxpayers Would be Free from Paying

The offers would ensure the 2 million customers who get power from Santee Cooper would pay no more for the failed nuclear plant. Currently, Santee Cooper customers are on the hook for roughly $6,200 more per household in higher rates over the next four decades to pay off the power plant debt. Customers of the twenty electric co-ops are obligated to pay about $4,200 per household because they get their power from Santee Cooper. (Read sale memo here)

Gov. Henry McMaster, who has pressed for selling Santee Cooper, said, "There is no longer any significant reason to delay action needed to solve the Santee Cooper crisis. I ask members of the General Assembly to objectively review the report and place the interest of the state's ratepayers and taxpayers first and those of the naysayers last."

The decision to sell Santee Cooper is up to a vote of the General Assembly. I favor the sale, with the best terms.

Distracted Driving Bill Advanced

South Carolina's streets, roads and highways are one step closer to being safer with the unanimous vote of a House Sub-Committee to advance my legislation (H.3355) to curb distracted driving. The House panel listened to three hours of gripping testimony from victims and experts before sending the DUI-E (Driving Under the Influence of Electronics) to full Committee. This bill calls for a fine of $200 for not putting your phone down while driving.


Distracted Driving Fast Facts


• SC ranks #1 nationally in traffic fatalities per 100 million vehicle miles.
• 62 traffic deaths in SC last year were directly attributable to distracted driving. (Source: SCDPS)
• Texting while driving has surpassed drunk driving as the #1 perceived threat to personal safety. (Source: AAA)
• Pedestrian deaths in SC have increased 50% because of distracted drivers.
• Researchers found that drivers manipulating their cell phone had their eyes off the road an average of 4.1 seconds out of the final 6 seconds leading up to a crash. (Source: AAA)
• Progressive Insurance just rated SC as one of the top 5 states where drivers have the hardest time putting down their cell phone.
• States that have enacted a 'Hands-Free' law show an average decline of 17% in traffic fatalities (that would equate to saving 175 lives in SC).
• 85% of South Carolinians believe distracted driving is dangerous.
• 65% of South Carolinians favor 'Hands-Free' law for drivers; 12% oppose.

Heard Around the State and More

The hearing and decision to move forward with the legislation received statewide news coverage. Here's just a sampling:


Augusta Chronicle
The State, Columbia
Post & Courier, Charleston
WIS-TV, Columbia
Aiken Standard
WJCL-TV, Savannah
WCBD-TV, Charleston
Index-Journal, Greenwood
The News & Observer, Charlotte

Bold Education Reform

Modernizing SC's public education system got underway in earnest this week at the Statehouse. The House Education K-12 Subcommittee began taking public testimony on House Speaker Jay Lucas' legislation (H.3759) overhauling the state's approach to public education. Lucas' plan for transforming education involves increasing teachers' salaries, dissolving failing school districts, improving job-training opportunities and encouraging innovations. Lucas' 84-page bill includes a "Student Bill of Rights" that says all students deserve highly qualified teachers, excellent principal leadership and a system that puts their success first. Wednesday's three hour hearing was filled with explanations detailing the bill along with public testimony. Many more hearings will be held.

Public Input Needed

Representatives want public input on this education reform bill. A February 12th evening hearing has been scheduled so teachers can be heard at a time they may be available. If you cannot attend, please fill out this survey: Survey Link

Legislative News in Brief

My goal in this weekly legislative newsletter is to provide you a digest of happenings at the SC Statehouse. Since your time is precious, I typically write more in-depth on a few issues, then provide a digest of other stories along with bill numbers so you can seek out more information if you desire on the SC Legislative website. The pace is picking up on moving legislation forward in this new session so it's time to digest.

Vets Tax Break

In an effort to attract more military retirees to SC, the House unanimously passed a bill that exempts retirement income for more than 38,000 retired veterans that are currently being taxed. By giving veterans a tax cut, the state revenue could potentially increase as the economy grows with more retirees and their families moving to the state. H.3135 removes the current $17,500 cap on income. The legislation needs Senate approval.

Death Penalty Bill Revived

Senators passed a bill bringing back the electric chair for the state's death row executions, as well as adding firing squads as an execution option. The legislation passed the Senate 26-13 and was sent to the House where a similar proposal died last year. The bill is an attempt to address the S.C. Corrections Department's inability to carry out executions because it does not have the chemicals needed for lethal injections. Currently, the state's 35 death row inmates can insist on lethal injection, effectively blocking their executions.

Free Range Parenting

A Senate panel endorsed a bill (S.79) that would loosen restriction on how parents are allowed to raise their children. The bill would amend SC's child abuse and neglect law to state that children who are old enough and mature enough don't always have to have adult supervision. In my view, this pulls back the government nanny-state and places responsibility for child rearing where it belongs - with parents and common sense

Booze on Sundays
A House panel hearing legislation to allow expanded Sunday liquor sales in 10 tourist-heavy SC counties voted to advance the bill (H.3082) to full committee. The bill calls for local leaders or county voters approve the expanded sales. The SC Baptist Convention testified in opposition of Sunday liquor sales.

Ban on Child Marriages
In SC you have to be 16 to receive a marriage license. However, if you're pregnant you can marry much younger. That loophole in authorizing marriages would be closed if the Senate goes along with a bill (H.3369) passed unanimously by the House.

Protecting Teens from Vaping
A bill to protect teens from vaping passed out of the House Judiciary committee and will continue to the House floor for a vote. This bill (H.3420) bans vaping on public school property and makes it illegal for children under 18 to enter a vape shop without an adult.

House Vote Settles Local Government Funding Squabble

SC local governments have been wrangling with the General Assembly for more than a decade over the amount of money sent by the state to them. At long last, counties and cities came to the negotiating table and agreed on a new funding formula that calls for the funding formula to rise and fall with state revenues rather than an arbitrary formula that is impossible to meet in economic downturns. The bill (H.3137) goes to the Senate.

Prosecutor Protection
A bill (H.3472) that would add prosecutors in the Attorney General's office to the list of judicial officers to carry concealed weapons into courthouses won House approval 101-1.

Transparency for Liens

The House unanimously passed legislation (H.3411) allowing the SC Department of Revenue to implement a system of filing and indexing liens. This information would be made available to the public via the Internet making it a cost-effective for people seeking those vital records.

Exceptional Needs Tax Credit

A bill to increase the tax credit for exceptional needs programs won House Approval. This bill (H.3576) aims to increase funding for programs that help families with children that have special needs to seek out the educational opportunities that best fit their kids.

Picture of the Week



I'm Available and AT YOUR SERVICE

It is my honor to be of service to you. If you need assistance navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.


January 26, 2019: Time to be Bold


"South Carolina is red hot." With those words Gov. Henry McMaster opened his annual State of the State address to the General Assembly. In his address broadcast statewide, McMaster declared, "The state of our state is strong - and getting even stronger." He then issued his vision coupled with a challenge to legislators to be bold and aggressive: "We must be bold, aggressive and think long-term.
That means we must keep taxes low, reduce burdensome regulations and invest heavily in infrastructure."

Reduce Income Taxes

The Governor called for a reduction of SC's marginal income tax rates which are the 12th highest in the nation. He called for a $2.2 billion tax cut in personal income tax brackets resulting in an average 15-percent reduction. He also pointed to his executive budget which calls for sending $200 million of this year's budget surplus back to SC taxpayers in the form of a one-time rebate check.

The governor lauded the special House Tax Reform Committee, of which I am a member, for its commitment to create meaningful tax reform fairer and flatter.

Overhauling Antiquated Education

Governor McMaster called for a top-to-bottom overhaul of SC's public education system. The highest priority is to invest in teachers. SC pays teachers less than surrounding states so to attract and retain the best he called for a 5-percent raise for teachers that would increase average teacher salaries above the southeastern average.

McMaster also called for the revamping of the antiquated funding formula for public education created forty years ago saying it has become outdated, inefficient and confusing.

"It fails to provide the accountability, efficiency and transparency necessary for a modern means of measurement

to determine if taxpayer dollars are being properly delivered and utilized in the classrooms." – Gov. McMaster


Additionally, the governor called for all schools to be safe and free from distraction and violence. He cited his executive budget that calls for every public school in our state to have a full-time, trained law enforcement officer and access to a mental health counselor.

Legislative Reaction

Following the State of the State address I told SCETV: "Henry McMaster is certainly an uplifting governor. We're now one-team South Carolina. .... He's going to get stuff done here."

Speaking to SCETV


To learn more about the legislative reaction to the State of the State address, read this Post & Courier article: How the SC Legislature loves Gov. McMaster

Education Reform Tops Legislative Agenda

Thursday morning following the State of the State address a comprehensive education reform bill was filed in the House of Representatives. It has been six months in development and is led by House Speaker Jay Lucas.


"Most importantly it's time to face reality in education. Without significant reforms our students won't have a future. We give them an opportunity at a better future by putting students' needs above all else. It's time to change the educational model in South Carolina." - Speaker Jay Lucas


I'm pleased to be a primary cosponsor of the 84-page comprehensive education reform bill (H.3759). It tackles the fundamental changes needed to modernize our education system. It includes a Student Bill of Rights that ensures every student has highly qualified teachers, excellent principal leadership and a system that puts their successes first. I am committed to doing what is best for the next generation, it's time to bring the way we educate our students into the 21st century.

Major Highlights

• A 9-percent increase for first year teachers while providing an across the board 9% pay raise for all teachers over the next two years.
• Requiring school districts with fewer than 1,000 students to consolidate with neighboring districts to share resources and save money.
• Dissolving school districts that have four consecutive years of failing scores.
• Eliminating three end-of-year standardized tests in elementary schools.

Overviews worth reading: (Post & Courier) (The State)

This particular bill focuses on policy, but more education reform bills are still to come. H.3759 will receive its first committee hearing in the House next Wednesday and is expected to be debated on the House floor in March.

And finally, Gov. McMaster summed up our joint approach when he concluded his State of the State address by stating:


"Now is the time to be bold, not bashful. Now is the time to act together. This year. Now!"


Distracted Driving Legislation Gets Hearing


Distracted driving is epidemic. It's also dangerous and deadly. SC's current texting law is worthless. That's why I'm championing the DUI-E (Driving Under the Influence of Electronics) legislation. H.3355 will be the first bill considered by a House subcommittee next Tuesday, January 29th, and hour after adjournment of the House session (approximately 2:00 p.m.). A number of victims and experts will be testifying. The hearing will be live-streamed on the web by SCETV.

Picture of the Week


One of the highlights of the legislative week — The My South Carolina Education School Choice Rally in Columbia! I joined several of my legislative colleagues and Lt. Gov. Pamela Evette in celebrating the growing initiative of school choice nationwide and in SC.


I'm Available and AT YOUR SERVICE
It is my honor to be of service to you. If you need assistance navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.

January 19, 2019: Showing Compassion


While the federal government seems firmly gridlocked at the intersection of "Malfunction & Malfeasance", your state legislature is fully engaged in moving forward. As example, this week at the Statehouse I participated in a bipartisan movement by legislators who stepped forward to show compassion for those in dire need.

The Compassionate Care Act

Compassion literally means "to suffer together." Among emotion researchers, it is defined as the feeling that arises when you are confronted with another's suffering and feel motivated to relieve that suffering.


Polls in SC demonstrate that nearly 80 percent of South Carolinians want doctors to be able to act compassionately and provide patients with cannabis for certain chronic and painful medical conditions. On the other hand, about the same percentage do not want marijuana legalized for recreational use. Legislation filed in both the House (H.3660) and Senate this week would allow the use of medical marijuana while being reflective of socially conservative South Carolina values.

The limited use of medical marijuana would allow doctors to prescribe marijuana for some medical illnesses. The American Academy of Sciences reviewed 10,000 scientific abstracts and they concluded that there is conclusive evidence that cannabis can provide relief where right now opioids are being prescribed. The bills have strict requirements for prescribing, access and handling of the marijuana for medical purposes. The bill is appropriately called The Compassionate Care Act.

Want to learn more?
Aiken Standard: Aiken lawmaker backs fresh push for medical marijuana in S.C.
WRDW-TV News 12: Restrictions in Medical Cannabis Bill in SC

Compassion for Federal Workers

Understanding the financial stress of furloughed federal workers in SC, the House quickly passed legislation that would protect them from being penalized for not paying their property taxes as the federal government's partial shutdown continues. The expedited legislation won unanimous approval and sent to the Senate.

You Could Be Grounded

South Carolinians are not lining up to get the state's new driver's license that features the REAL ID while the deadline gets closer. That has DMV officials predicting hours-long lines next year in advance of the October 2020 deadline. At that time you will need a REAL ID to fly commercially. DMV Chief Kevin Shwedo briefed our House Education Committee. At the current rate of sign-ups, he said, "I'm betting on six-hour lines because people aren't coming in." Read More in The State: Want to Avoid Long Lines at DMV?

Distracted Driving Legislation Queued Up

Everyone knows distracted driving is epidemic. It's also dangerous and deadly. SC's current texting law is worthless. That's why I'm championing the DUI-E (Driving Under the Influence of Electronics) legislation. H.3355 is queued up to be the first bill considered by a House subcommittee on Tuesday, January 29th, 2:00 p.m. A host of victims and experts will be testifying. The hearing will be live-streamed on the web by ETV.

Executive Budget: Governor Pushes for Teacher Raises, Resource Officers and Buses

Gov. McMaster released his Executive Budget which called for a five percent across-the-board pay raise for SC teachers, bringing the average teacher salary to $53,185. The pay raise would cost an additional $155 million. His budget suggestions also includes a $10 base student cost increase, $46.3 million to help place school resource officers in every school thus adding schools that currently do not have one. $2.2 million to provide for mental health counselors and $5 million for new school bus leases.

Executive Budget: Governor Wants to Payback Taxpayers

Gov. McMaster's budget proposal requested that $200 million of the projected $1 billion in surplus revenue be issued to all state residents who file their income taxes before October 15, 2019.

"I've asked the legislature in this executive budget to do something we've never done before.  This is the right year to make good on that promise and to return that tax money to the citizens who paid it in." - Gov. Henry McMaster

(View the Governor's Executive Budget Proposal)

A Call for Updating Education Funding Formula

The Governor joined House and Senate leaders this week asking state budget analysts for help reworking SC's decades-old, outdated, education funding formula and suggest a new funding model that meets today's requirements. The primary funding formula for public education, the Education Finance Act, was established over forty years ago and fails to provide sufficient measures of accountability in student outcomes. Gov. McMaster is seeking a new funding model to improve efficiency, transparency, accountability, and affordability.

State of the State

President Trump may not be delivering his 'State of the Union' address, but Gov. McMaster will update South Carolinians on the 'State of the State' next Wednesday, January 23rd at 7 pm. He will be laying out his legislative plans for the next year, live from the House chamber. You're invited to watch on SCETV or online.

Duke Energy Proposes to Buy Santee Cooper

Duke Energy has made official its interest in purchasing the embattled, state-owned utility, Santee Cooper, by filing a proposal for the General Assembly to review. The governor requested Duke Energy, along with other companies; evaluate options for a potential acquisition of Santee Cooper. McMaster has been shopping Santee Cooper, saddled with $8 billion in debt and dealing with fallout from the failed nuclear reactor project at the V.C. Summer nuclear power station in Fairfield County.

Gov. McMaster Names First Appointed SC Adjutant General

Maj. Gen. R. Van McCarty has been promoted to be SC's next Adjutant General and National Guard commander. McCarty will become the first adjutant general appointed by a governor since voters approved a 2014 state constitutional amendment to end direct elections of the office. Current Adjutant General Robert Livingston Jr., will retire from military service after a distinguished career that has spanned 41 years, including 8 years as the South Carolina National Guard commander. McCarty currently serves as the deputy adjutant general under Livingston.

Picture of the Week

Our son, Ryan Taylor, and I teamed up to support 'Katrina's Kids' at the Columbia fundraiser. Sen. Katrina Shealy's child advocacy changes lives. She invited Ryan to tell the audience how 'Katrina's Kids' helps the Nancy K. Perry Children's Shelter (Lexington) where he serves as Executive Director. Fun evening for a most worthy charity.


I'm Available and AT YOUR SERVICE

It is my honor to be of service to you. If you need assistance navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.

January 12, 2019: An Encouraging Start


Like every state, South Carolina has its challenges. But unlike many states, we're working on real solutions to insure the Palmetto State flourishes to its fullest potential.


I'm Encouraged - and You Should Be Too


The 123rd Legislative Session began in earnest this week with much pomp and circumstance featuring the inauguration of Gov. Henry McMaster and Lt.Gov. Pamela Evette followed by the traditional inaugural ball. Traditions are valuable and important in all aspects of our lives. But I am encouraged that House Republicans were focused on critical issues of serious substance.



"This is our time! South Carolina is winning! And we will keep winning!"


With those words in his inaugural address, Gov. McMaster built off the Clemson Tiger's victory this week in the National Football Championship. He proclaimed:


"Great football coaches have said that the worst mistake a player can make is to fumble the ball. And as the Clemson Tigers just showed the world - South Carolina produces superior teamwork. We will not fumble the football." 



"As your governor my game plan is to be bold, to coach a team of talented players who make their teammates better players - in practice, preparation and then on the field of competition. My game plan for South Carolina requires changing our offensive plays on education. It means putting a strong defense on the field that tackles regulations, keeps high taxes off the field and protects our environment like it is the end zone."


Education: "We Must Be Bold"


Improving public education tops the Statehouse agenda this session. I am encouraged that the House of Representatives and Governor McMaster are on the same page when he proclaimed: "We must be bold."


McMaster addressed education saying....


"Being perceived as weak in education is not good. But, being perceived as not committed to fixing it is disastrous. We will fix it and we will keep winning. We must recruit and build the best team of teachers and educators in the country. It will require providing South Carolina's teachers with compensation that is competitive - in the southeast and across the nation."


McMaster continued by saying, SC's commitment to education must be second to none...


"Reforming education funding. Making our schools safe with school resource officers and mental health counselors. Restoring old-fashioned discipline in the classroom. Common sense relief for our teachers from testing, forms and paperwork. Consolidating school districts and giving our state superintendent the authority to remove and replace non-productive school boards."


Education Breakthrough Coming


The term "Comprehensive Reform" scares most folks because it brings upheaval and uncertainty. But nibbling around the edge of our state's education challenges will only layer difficulties and won't likely yield tangible improvements. House Republicans are united in our desire to bring forth an aggressive legislative agenda that syncs our priorities with the Governor's to create an excellent opportunity to put public education on the path to excel. This week House Republicans focused on comprehensive education reform:

  • Paying our teachers more. We will fight to increase teacher pay so our students have access to the best teachers possible.
  • Letting teachers do their job. We will fight to eliminate paperwork and excessive testing in schools, so teachers have more time to teach. 

Our top priority will be to fundamentally change the way we educate our children, so they get the best education possible to live heathy and productive lives and be the future generation of SC's workforce.


Distracted Driving High on Legislative Calendar


For me, the first day of SC's 123rd Legislative Session began with an early morning Statehouse rally. I was invited to address members of ABATE who came from all over the state. These motorcyclists are on a mission in support of my tougher distracted driving bill (H.3355). The DUI-E legislation calls for drivers to put the phone down and focus on driving.



It is expected the DUI-E (Driving Under the Influence of Electronics) legislation will be before a House committee within the next few weeks and, hopefully, be debated on the House floor in February. 


Pothole Patrol- Be On the Alert 


You are officially 'Deputized' to turn-in road potholes. After recent heavy rainfalls wreaked havoc on our roadways, SCDOT has launched a statewide "pothole blitz" and they're asking for YOUR help! To report potholes (either click this link or call their Hotline at 1-855-467-2368). Please remember, SCDOT employees will be working extended hours to fix these potholes, so please use caution and watch for SCDOT maintenance crews making repairs.


I'm Available and AT YOUR SERVICE 


It is my honor to be of service to you. If you need assistance navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.  



December 24, 2018:  I Reported YOU to Santa!


Naughty or Nice? We all know Santa has two lists. Each year he looks over those lists and checks them twice.


I’m pleased to report to you on this Christmas Eve I gave him helping hand this year to make certain YOU were on the NICE list.


Cynthia Pace Photography, Lexington, SC


Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and that we each take time during this joyous season to reflect on the wonders of our earthly world and praise God for giving us the miracle of his Son’s birth.


Looking forward to the New Year and I wish you good health and much happiness.



November 14, 2018: Good Thinkin'

For several years there has been growing concern over the ground water availability in the western portion of South Carolina and particularly Aiken County. After a multi-year process, state government has taken a major step forward in addressing water resources for generations to come.

Protecting Our Ground Water

The Board of the S.C. Department of Health & Environmental Control (DHEC) unanimously voted approval of designating Aiken and six other nearby counties as the Western Capacity Use Area. That DHEC designation requires entities that withdraw more than 3 million gallons of groundwater from aquifers to acquire permits and report their groundwater use to DHEC.

DHEC's staff acknowledged that ground water fluctuates over time, but the aquifers in our region are gradually declining over the course of decades. The water experts make it clear that this is not a today crisis; however, the Capacity Use designation would help address the declines in the future. They said the goal is not to prevent people from using water, but rather to make sure they are drawing it from the right area and right source so other users are not negatively impacted.

The decision to create the Western Capacity Use Area came at the end of several hours of testimony from mostly Aiken County residents.


I am pleased the DHEC Commissioners voted approval of the designation. It was a wise and right decision to take this critical step to manage our precious water resource for everyone: citizens, farmers and industry.

During my testimony, I urged DHEC Commissioners to make their decision based on data, not emotion. There are those who wish to place the blame for the decline of our aquifer levels on large farming operations. While that is their prerogative; I do not. There is scant evidence that the gradual decline of the aquifer has been caused by these larger farming operations. It is unproductive and divisive to be in the blame game. Agriculture is South Carolina's number one industry. It feeds us and millions of others in this nation and around the world. We should celebrate our state's role in feeding the world.


While appreciating the needs of farmers we still have a potential long-term challenge to protect our water resources. The Capacity Use designation in four other regions of South Carolina has not hampered agriculture or industrial growth. In reality, the designation has had the desired effect of safe guarding our precious water resources.

The Western capacity use area includes Aiken, Bamberg, Lexington, Barnwell, Allendale, Calhoun and Orangeburg Counties.

Blue Wave was Barely a Ripple

A huge thank you to the voters in House District 86 for returning me to serve another term in the Statehouse. I am most appreciative for the opportunity to represent them. Overall, I am also thrilled with the marvelous voter turnout demonstrating increased voter engagement this year. Across Aiken County voter turn-out totaled fifty-seven percent. That's a strong showing.

My Aiken County legislative colleagues, Representatives Bart Blackwell, Ronnie Young, Bill Hixon and Bill Clyburn also were also re-elected. Gov. Henry McMaster won his first full term and all the state Constitutional officers, all Republicans, won re-election. The media-hyped "Blue Wave" wasn't even a ripple in South Carolina.

Statehouse Remains Red

The election results show the South Carolina House of Representatives remains solidly red. Two Republican Representatives in the Low County lost seats as a result of the Democrat's push in the First Congressional District race. Meanwhile, House Republicans claimed the seats that had long been held by Democrats. The South Carolina House of Representatives remains solidly in the hands of Republicans who have a commanding majority of 80 members or sixty-five percent.

Thank You, Veterans

It was once again my honor to address Aiken's official Veterans Day observance. That ceremony took on special significance because it was 100 years ago that hostilities ended in "The Great War" - "The War to End all Wars" - World War I. That was the foundation for Armistice Day, the forerunner of Veterans Day.


I told those attending the ceremony the cost of our freedom is priceless but someone has to pay for it. It is our veterans who have paid the price. Tens of thousands of silent grave markers are spread around the world honoring fallen America military men and women. And then there are those who came home from war forever changed. And for our veterans who never saw hostile action, they too, deserve our honor and praise for the sacrifices they and their families made in service to our beloved nation.


Picture of the Week


Immediately after each election, my temporary slogan becomes: “END POLITICAL SIGN POLLUTION!”  The day following voting, my pal, Roy Stone, collected all the big signs around Aiken County. (This is my small contribution to beautify South Carolina.)


I'm Available and AT YOUR SERVICE

It is my honor to be of service to you. If you need assistance navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.



November 3, 2018: Reality Check


Decision Day is nearly here! If you have not already cast your absentee ballot, Tuesday is your day to be in charge of the political landscape nationally, statewide and locally. Those elected to public service are not in charge - YOU ARE!  Politicians work for you, not the other way around. But, in turn, good bosses provide direction and Tuesday is your opportunity.


Washington D.C. vs. Columbia


Thankfully, SC state government isn't nearly as dysfunctional as Congress. Columbia is far from perfect and needs to improve, but a survey released just this week shows South Carolinians give substantially higher marks to the General Assembly than their Washington counterparts. The new Winthrop Poll shows state lawmakers received a 46% approval rating while other polls show Congress with a much-deserved and dismal approval rating hovering around 9%.




The 'Lame-Brain-National-Media-Propaganda-Machine' would have you believe America is spiraling out-of-control as it tumbles from crisis to crisis. To the contrary, media is in crisis, not America.  


More than 90% of news coverage of President Trump and his initiatives is negative. Fortunately, a majority of South Carolinians know better. As example, the Winthrop Poll shows that about 3/4 of SC respondents said the country's economy was fairly to very good, while the same number of respondents think the condition of the state's economy is either very or fairly good. The same poll gives President Trump an 83% approval rating and is continuing to climb among SC Republicans.


Media "experts" would have you believe Tuesday's mid-term election is a referendum on President Trump. If that's the case then judge him on his performance (his significant accomplishments in less than two years) not on his Tweets or sometimes inelegant rhetoric. 


A good place to make that performance evaluation is the website MAGAPILL. Check it out; you will likely be surprised by the long list of accomplishments that were barely or never mentioned in the news.


I Ask For Your Vote


If you're one of 'my bosses' living in House District 86, I ask for your vote Tuesday. 


While I'm not challenged on the ballot, I am CHALLENEGED every day to excel in my role as a public servant.


Representing the citizens of House District 86 is a privilege of a lifetime for me. My campaign slogan has always been - STRONG VOICE, EFFECTIVE LEADER. I strive to keep that promise, as well as consistently vote my Conservative principles to limit the size and scope of government and make it less intrusive into your life and personal liberties.


A Few Legislative Highlights


I fought for seven years to improve government transparency in SC and that bill was signed into law last year.


I continue to be the primary sponsor of the Article V Convention of States legislation aimed at reining-in our out-of-control federal government. We will be successful!


I'm the chief advocate and sponsor of legislation to curb deadly, distracted driving in SC. We have to reduce this reckless behavior and save lives on our streets and highways.


I'm most appreciative the endorsements and recognition from these organizations:



You can learn more about me at these websites:


 TaylorSCHouse   SCLegislatureOnline   Ballotpedia


Thank you allowing me to continue my service.


Constitutional Amendment 1


Next Tuesday's ballot (Nov 6) contains a vitally important Amendment to the SC State Constitution. It's a "good government" reform that has been pushed for decades. A "YES" vote would require the State Superintendent of Education to be appointed by the Governor with the consent of the Senate. 


This is a major step in reforming and making more efficient our antiquated form of state government which gives too much power to the legislature and other elected, executive branch officials. The measure has broad bi-partisan support.

My views on the proposed Amendment appeared in EDUCATION WEEK, a national publication. Please vote YES for Amendment 1 to help make SC's public education system more efficient. 


Pix of the Week


Lucky Me!  Donna & I celebrated our 48th wedding anniversary Friday.  I’m fortunate to be married to my best friend and the love of my life. I repeat – LUCKY ME!



I'm Available and AT YOUR SERVICE 


It is my honor to be of service to you. If you need assistance navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.  



October 5, 2018:  SC TAX DISASTER AVERTED!


Every year the SC General Assembly routinely conforms the state income tax code to the federal governments. That simplifies filing your state income tax when April 15th rolls around. There has been nothing routine this year. The Trump Tax Reform broadly reduced income taxes for most Americans. Had SC not conformed its tax code it would have been a tax disaster making the filing of your 2018 taxes next spring complex and expensive.


SC Taxpayers Win!


The House and Senate returned to the Statehouse this week and voted Wednesday to align the state's tax code with federal tax changes made last year by Congress, but some want the state to do more with its overall tax language.


This legislation saves SC income taxpayers more than $1.2 billion over five years by putting state deductions and exemptions back in place that were removed due to the passage of the Trump Tax Reform. This action keeps more hard-earned money in the pockets of SC taxpayers. The conformity legislation streamlines filing and ensures families will continue to benefit from our state's low tax environment.


Business leaders and officials with South Carolina's revenue-collection agency warned that without a conformity law putting South Carolina with the federal level, tax filings would be complicated and difficult for everyone, from business owners to individuals filing 1040EZ short forms.


Tax Reform Needed


During Senate debate one senator argued in favor of more tweaking of the state's tax code. He pointed out that we have a challenging property tax situation, a questionable income tax scenario and a less than ideal sales tax scenario.


I couldn't agree more! I continue to serve on the House Special Tax Reform Committee where for two years we have been exploring ways to lower our tax rates and make them fairer. It's complex - very complex - but it can be accomplished with political courage. I'm ready and willing. It's time for legislators to get on board the reform train.




Aiken County Representatives are celebrating! It's taken four years, but perseverance won out. During its special session this week, the House and Senate overrode the Governor's veto of the $9 million disaster reimbursement clean-up costs for the 2014 ice storm that wreaked havoc in Aiken County and caused damage in 21 other counties.



Led by Sen. Tom Young's effort in the Senate, the Aiken Legislative Delegation has been working hard as a team since the ice storm to receive the state's matching share of the FEMA reimbursement. Until this vote, the state had only reimbursed 44 percent of what it owed. 


Before the House vote, I addressed my fellow representatives, saying, "Those of you in the Pee Dee region and Horry and Georgetown Counties, imagine if this was you four years later after Hurricane Florence, and you were still here begging to be made whole by the monies that the state customarily provides after disasters. That's the situation these 22 counties, including Aiken, are in."


I believe my words resonated with many because of the current situation in northeastern South Carolina. The House voted unanimously to override the veto.


Aiken County will receive $4.1 million added to the $3.4 million previously received completing the state's storm reimbursement from 2014.


Planned Parenthood Defunded


During this week's session to consider the Gov. McMaster's budget vetoes, the House upheld his veto that struck $16 million from Medicaid's budget in an effort to block monies going to Planned Parenthood because of its abortion services. 


The budget line McMaster struck funded birth control, prenatal care and annual exams for poor South Carolinians who are insured through Medicaid. That veto could have blocked money to thousands of federally approved health care providers around the state.


However, shortly after that July veto, McMaster issued an executive order directing the state's Medicaid agency to continue paying for family planning services to all the agencies other than Planned Parenthood by dipping into reserve accounts. That means health care providers like Aiken's Clyburn Rural Health Center will continue to receive family planning money ($136,000 last year) as will the Aiken County Health Department ($175,000 last year). Overall, the state's Medicaid agency spends more than $40 million annually on family planning services - none of that for abortions.


Tragedy near Florence


In a hail of gunfire, Officer Terrance Carraway was killed and six others wounded in a neighborhood near Florence. Let us all pause from our lives and prayerfully support the wounded law enforcement officers as they heal and the fallen policeman's family. They need all the help and support they can get. 


Let us also support all our men and women in law enforcement in every town, city, county, across South Carolina and around the nation. They risk their lives daily so we may be safe. May God's hedge of protection surround them.


Aiken Election Forum


I enjoyed the opportunity to participate in the Aiken Standard’s Political Forum that drew a large crowd to Aiken’s Municipal Center this week. Candidates for school board, County Council, Statehouse & Congress we’re given the opportunity to speak on critical issues.


While I’m not challenged on the upcoming ballot – I am CHALLENGED every day to excel in my role as a public servant. Serving the citizens of HD 86 is a privilege of a lifetime for me. My campaign slogan has always been – “Strong Voice, Effective Leader”.  I strive to keep that promise.



Friends, public service is a noble calling. I work for the citizens of South Carolina and particularly those in House District 86. In that spirit, I ask every voter in that District to size me up. If you approve, give me your vote and allow me the privilege of serving another term representing you at the Statehouse.




A tip of the hat to SCDOT for quickly correcting the ill-designed modifications at Talatha Church & Whiskey Road south of Aiken. When neighbors complained about a concrete island that was recently erected, as well as the prohibition of left turns onto Whiskey Rd, SCDOT agreed with them and last week removed the island allowing for left turns in non-peak hours. Next, the City of Aiken has agreed to install a ‘street flood light’ to improve night visibility. It’s now a much SAFER intersection!


I'm Available and AT YOUR SERVICE

I post frequent on my two Facebook pages (Rep. Bill Taylor & TaylorSCHouse). 'Friend Me' or follow me for the latest legislative insights. If you have a problem and cannot get help, call me at (803) 270-2012 or email me at

It is my honor to be of service to you. If you need assistance navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.



September 24, 2018:  More Misery & Devastation


The sunny skies bathing the Palmetto State in recent days mask the devastation and dangers in the Coastal and Pee Dee regions of South Carolina. In the aftermath of Hurricane Florence, rivers continue to flood and are forecast to continue rising this week bringing more misery and devastation.

"Flo" Means Flooding

Rain water that overflowed the rivers in North Carolina is still making its way into SC. There are warnings of a second wave of flooding in the Pee Dee region and Horry County. Floodwaters could impact more than 30,000 people in the Pee Dee region, according to state emergency officials. There is still the potential for more mandatory evacuations for those living in low lying areas. Residents should be prepared to leave their homes if their public safety officials tell them to do so. Over the weekend there were 16 shelters open for housing 204 people. The American Red Cross and the SC Department of Social Services have placed additional shelters on standby.

Aiken Deputies Head to the Coast

Sunday morning, Aiken County Sheriff Mike Hunt deployed a team of 20 deputies towards the coast to assist with Hurricane relief efforts. These deputies will be assisting with law enforcement operations, emergency services and numerous other tasks. We are grateful for their service and pray for their safety.

Strike Two for Nichols

Two years ago Hurricane Mathew swamped the small town of Nichols, which is located at the confluence of two rivers, in the Pee Dee region. The 400 residents, who were struggling back from that flood, met disaster again when the NC flooding from Hurricane Florence rolled downstream. This time it was much worse - Nichols got an additional foot of water. Even the Town Hall wasn't sparred this time. Fortunately, everyone evacuated safely, and when the water recedes the town will be in muddy ruins.

Governor Surveys Nichols Damage

This weekend Gov. Henry McMaster surveyed the damage in the Pee Dee by helicopter. In Nichols he took to a National Guard High Water vehicle to view the flooding up close. He pledged that every asset in the state would be directed toward the flooded region as they are bracing for or experiencing historic flooding.

"We Will Not be Pushed to the Wayside!"

I spent time in Nichols during Hurricane Mathew and came to understand the town's resilience and resolve. Sunday, I talked to my friend, Nichols Town Manager Sandee Rogers, and asked her the tough question - should Nichols be relocated rather than rebuilding in the same location. Her response:

"We will not be pushed to the wayside by this. This is our town
and Nichols is the northern gateway to Myrtle Beach."

(Nichols is located on Hwy. 9.)


Rogers says the answer is diverting the river waters to not only protect Nichols, but downstream in Horry County and Georgetown. Several months ago the town received a $1.5 million federal and state hazard mitigation grant to study floods and develop solutions for mitigating future flooding. She hopes that study can result in real solutions.

Helping Nichols

Experience is a great teacher and Hurricane Mathew taught Nichols leaders how to respond quickly. Sunday, National Guardsmen were using their high water trucks to take residents back to see their homes to reduce their anxiety and allow them to retrieve items, if possible. Last time it was two weeks before residents were allowed back in. Workers will start to remediate the Town Hall as soon as the water recedes. Town Manager, Rogers tells me volunteer muck-out crews are standing by to assist residents in scooping the mud from their homes. She says they need many more clean-up kits and mold spray. Nichols is better organized this time and they know faster clean-up will reduce the damage from mold.

Shout Out to 'The Gov'

Gov. Henry McMaster took time from his storm leadership to call my cell phone Friday evening and talk to Aiken County constituents who gathered at the Montmorenci FD. My talk was focused on how SC has responded to Hurricane Florence and the increasing flooding disaster in the Pee Dee. Gov. McMaster added a lot to the conversation; there is no better person to explain how 'Team SC' is pulling together to meet the crisis. Thank you, Governor, for taking time to call and address the critical storm challenges we continue to face.

Ruined Roads

Road washouts, culvert failures and bridge damage have closed 125 roads and highways and shut down 53 bridges in the Pee Dee. More road closures will occur as rivers crest in coming days. SCDOT officials say they won't be able to fully assess the damage on some roads until the floodwaters recede.

Road Closures

SCDOT is actively responding to widespread flooding across the Northeast portion of the state. Previously closed locations of I-95 in SC over the Great Pee Dee River have been reopened in both directions. However, I-95 in NC remains closed across the state line due to flooding. There are widespread road closures due to flooding on primary and secondary routes throughout the Pee Dee.

Myrtle Beach: The US 501 Bypass in Conway has been reopened to two-way traffic after completion of the Project Lifeline flood barrier. As water levels continue to rise, this route will serve as the primary access between Conway and Myrtle Beach. SCDOT warns that motorists should anticipate congestion and slow speeds in this area. At this moment there are only two 2-lane roads providing access to the Grand Strand.

Georgetown is Next: Plans have been developed to keep open US 17 for a period of time as the flood waters rise at US 17 crossing over the Waccamaw River in Georgetown. The plan is designed to delay the closing of the bridge for as long as possible. It is expected that floodwaters will overtop the roadway barriers mid-week and require the closure of the bridge to traffic. US 17 in this area has been reduced to one lane of travel in each direction. Heavy congestion and long delays are expected in this area and caution is urged for motorists traveling through the work zone.

Know Before Your Drive: Motorists are encouraged to use SCDOT's 511 app or call 511 for current road travel conditions. SCDOT has an online, real-time map of flood-related closures.

Crops Ruined by Catastrophic Flooding

For three of the past four years, cotton farmers in the Pee Dee have lost their crops to catastrophic flooding. First, it was $330 million in damage from the 2015 so-called "1,000-year-flood". Then came Hurricane Mathew that cost another $50 million. Florence has again decimated crops in the Pee Dee region. Worse, there is little help coming from the federal government - the current U.S. Farm Bill doesn't help farmers. In the 2008 and 2014 farm bills, emergency disaster aid packages for farmers was removed. On average, farmer's income has fallen more than 50 percent since 2014 and these natural disasters can bring financial ruin.

SC Seeks Financial Aid

Gov. Henry McMaster has requested about $1.2 billion in aid from the federal government, according to officials with the S.C. Emergency Management Division. SC has already received approval for $8 million of "quick release" emergency funding from the Federal Highway Administration. The money allows SCDOT to start making repairs to flood damaged highways and other roadways.

Aiken Provides Equine Help

Equine Rescue of Aiken has once again stepped up and sent 7 trailer truck loads of hay, feed and vet supplies to the Pee Dee region and NC. The National Guard is putting it on trucks and moving it to the affected areas. Donations are funding the effort to help horses caught in the flooding, but donations are running far behind what Equine Rescue collected after Hurricane Harvey hit Texas. They sent 15 truckloads of supplies there. If you can help, please donate here.

I'm Available and AT YOUR SERVICE

I post frequent updates on my twoFacebook pages (Rep. Bill Taylor & TaylorSCHouse). 'Friend Me' or follow me for the latest information. If you have a problem and cannot get help, call me at (803) 270-2012 or email me at

It is my honor to be of service to you. If you need assistance navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.


September 13, 2018: Prepare for the Worst, Pray for the Best!


All eyes in the Palmetto State are on the coast of South Carolina. Hurricane Florence, a potentially deadly monster of a storm, is bearing down on our state.

Don't be a Statistic

If you are still in the designated coastal evacuation zones THIS IS THE LAST GOOD DAY TO EVACUATE! The time to act is NOW! Even if you are not in an evacuation zone, but live in an area prone to flooding or if you don't think your home is capable of weathering the hurricane, I urge you to immediately consider your options. Once the storm passes, you can return to clean-up or rebuild.

Disasters come with statistics - don't be a statistic of Hurricane Florence.

Here's What They're Saying...

"This hurricane is potentially deadly and unpredictable. Once those high winds get here ... it will be very difficult, if not impossible, for anyone to come rescue you if you are in one of those zones." -Gov. Henry McMaster

"With the right combination of variables over the next few days, Hurricane Florence would cause more flooding in the Charleston area than Tropical Storm Irma did last year."
- Charleston's Post & Courier

"Life-threatening storm surge and rainfall is expected. North Myrtle Beach could see a storm surge between six and nine feet. Myrtle Beach could see a 4- to 6-foot surge if peak surge happens at high tide."
- Myrtle Beach Online

"The bad news is that Florence is still forecast to be an extremely dangerous, life-threatening hurricane. And the ugly news, for Midlands residents, is the storm is predicted to move inland across the Columbia metro area, which has led to the National Weather Service office in Columbia issuing a tropical storm watch for the first time." - The State

"Get prepared on the East Coast, this is a no-kidding nightmare coming for you. It's enormous."
- Astronaut Alexander Gerst tweeting from onboard the International Space Station as he looks down on Florence

Flooding is a Major Concern

Beyond hurricane damage to the coastal area, the biggest threat to much of South Carolina is flooding. Although 2-6 inches of rain is currently predicted for the Aiken area, this amount could vary depending on Florence's track. Other parts of the state could see over 10 inches of rain.

Team South Carolina

Hat's off to Gov. Henry McMaster and 'Team SC'. The governor and his agency heads have been manning the state's Emergency Operations Center all week and basing their decisions regarding evacuation, storm preparations and the eventual response on the facts. No doubt there will be second-guessing, but 'Team SC' has the advantage of the combined knowledge and experience of every state agency. They know more and fully understand the complexity of responding to an unpredictable natural disaster. The Governor and his team regularly provide updates about preparations for Hurricane Florence. The next briefing is at 2:30 p.m. today (Thursday). View it LIVE.

By the Numbers

• The South Carolina National Guard has more than 2,100 soldiers and airmen on duty and 50 members of the State Guard.
• DOT and DPS reversed 100 miles of I-26 and 20 miles of US 501.
• DOT has more than 3000 team members assigned to the event.
• Today, there are 450 State Law Enforcement Division officers on duty.
• The Department of Public Safety has 666 officers on duty.
• Ordered 125 buses to be staged in Orangeburg to deploy if needed.
• There are currently were 35 emergency shelters open throughout the state with over 1,800 occupants.
• The Air Operations Branch has seven aircraft staged to provide aerial reconnaissance over designated evacuation routes.
• FEMA Incident Management Assistance Team is on site.
• Provided items such as sandbags and generators to counties as requested.
• Clemson Livestock Poultry Health has activated Memorandums of Agreement with the ASPCA and National Animal Rescue and Sheltering Coalition to deploy emergency pet shelter staff, animal search and rescue and animal related damage assessment teams as needed.
• Department of Natural Resources conducting river sweeps.
• Activated "Emergency Mode" on and SC Emergency Manager mobile app.

I'm Available and AT YOUR SERVICE

I post frequent weather/hurricane updates on my twoFacebook pages (Rep. Bill Taylor & TaylorSCHouse). 'Friend Me' or follow me for the latest information. If you have a problem and cannot get help, call me at (803) 270-2012 or email me at

It is my honor to be of service to you. If you need assistance navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.


September 1, 2018: Government WORKS!


Given the continual political noise emanating from Washington D.C. dysfunction seems to rule our federal government. The 'Lame-Brain-National-Media-Propaganda-Machine' beats their drums daily focusing on the political in-fighting and trivial while important issues and policy go unreported. That's Washington, not South Carolina. Allow me to focus on one aspect of SC government that is truly excelling.

We're Getting Transparency, Accountability and Efficiency

Four years ago as part of state government reorganization, legislation created Legislative Oversight Committees in the House and Senate. These oversight ("investigating") committees look deeply into state agencies to determine if laws and programs are being implemented and carried out in accordance with the intent of the General Assembly and whether or not they should be continued, curtailed or even eliminated. (Read Mission) The committees shine their spotlights on agencies to insure more public transparency, accountability and efficiency - and IT'S WORKING!

DDSN Under the Microscope

As example, the SC Department of Disability and Special Needs (DDSN) has been before the Legislative Oversight Sub-Committee on which I serve for 20 months. This agency is designed to help its nearly 25,000 South Carolinians who suffer with severe, lifelong disabilities of intellectual disability, autism, traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury and conditions related to each of these four disabilities.

DDSN has been described as a "troubled agency' and received lots of media attention for some cases where it was accused of failing to adequately protect its clients from abuse or even death.

During our long, in-depth inquiry of this agency we discovered many flaws and mid-way through the process the Executive Director resigned. Thankfully, Patrick Maley stepped in as Interim Director. Before joining DDSN, Maley was SC's Inspector General and is a retired FBI agent. With the prompting of the Oversight Committee Maley and his staff have excelled in turning around DDSN. They have deeply analyzed their processes and procedures and made many changes. The Oversight Sub-Committee met this week and voted to recommend a number of changes and DDSN offered a lengthy list of current regulations that need to be updated or eliminated. The legislative inspection process as proved beneficial in streamlining and focusing DDSN's practices to improve service to its clients.


Identifying Agency Failure

Here's another example of how that House Legislative Oversight Committee cracks down on a failing state agency. This summer the Committee concluded its study of the SC Commission for Minority Affairs with a bi-partisan vote of no confidence in the agency for its failure to fulfill its mission. The Committee sent Gov. McMaster a request that he consider replacing all members of the governing board. (View WIS-TV story) (Read Committee Findings)

The Big Picture

Since its creation in 2014, the House Oversight Committee has completed studies of 21 agencies, is currently meeting with 7 agencies, and has 5 more in the queue. This includes more than 300 hours of meetings, and review of close to 7,000 online comments from constituents like you. You can submit input (link) about an agency at any time, and request notification (link) when meetings are scheduled. Information received during a study, including links to meeting videos, is available online, by going to the Committee website, then scrolling down and clicking on the name of the agency in which you are interested.

As of the end of last session, there were 40 bills filed to implement Committee recommendations. An article about one of those bills, which made significant changes to the process related to law enforcement misconduct, is available here . A list of additional outcomes obtained from some of the agency studies can be found on page four of the Legislative Oversight Committee 121st General Assembly Transparency Report to Citizens (link).

Saving America

In my last newsletter I shared with you the news that I was humbled to be awarded the first-ever 2018 Abraham Lincoln Award for Leadership Toward a More Perfect Union during a national legislative conference in New Orleans. A newly posted YouTube video captures my reaction to receiving that award and my thoughts on finally passing the Article V Convention of States legislation in South Carolina. (Tap link below picture to view video)

LINK: Interview with Rep. Bill Taylor, winner of the Abraham Lincoln Award


YOU Can Insure Another Aiken Honor

The two wooden bridges on York Street near downtown Aiken have been named as a finalist in the 2018 America's Transportation Awards competition. This project is among the Top 12 competing for the two highest honors by the American Association of State Highway Officials (AASHTO).

The selection for the final award will be based upon voting by the public. It's up to US to vote for this Aiken project. You can vote once a day for the next three weeks.

                                                                     VOTE NOW!

The two bridges, named for the Late Rep. Skipper Perry, are SCDOT's first modern-day designed wooden deck bridges. The planning that went into building these bridges involved extensive use of technology and innovation. A routine inspection found that the original bridges were in critical disrepair. They were immediately closed in February 2016. This diverted a roadway that carries approximately 9,000 cars a day into downtown Aiken. The accelerated design and construction schedule allowed the two structures to open in June 2017. The new modern wooden bridges maintain the unique appearance and feel of the original bridges as requested by city officials and property owners.


SCDOT and the people of Aiken worked together on this project. Secretary of Transportation Christy Hall said, "This effort is a good of example of listening to our stakeholder's ideas and our engineers using innovative technology to achieve a project that improves the quality of life and pride in the Aiken community.

I'm Available and AT YOUR SERVICE

It is my honor to be of service to you. If you need assistance navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.




August 20, 2018: I'm Honored!


I believe the privilege of public service is its own reward. In politics I more often expect barbs and many challenges, and don't look for public accolades. So, imagine my surprise when I was called to the stage in a New Orleans legislative conference to be recognized for my efforts to put limits on the federal government by calling a convention of states to propose amendments under Article V of the United States Constitution.

In its first-ever awards ceremony lauding state legislators for their support of the Convention of States Action Project, I was conferred with the 2018 Abraham Lincoln Award for Leadership Toward a More Perfect Union. It was presented by former U.S. Senator Tom Coburn at the American Legislative Exchange Council Conference. More than a thousand state legislators from around the nation attended the ceremony.



The Convention of States Awards pays respect to distinct characteristics of America's Founding Fathers. Nominees this year included 45 state legislators from 18 different states nominated by COS grassroots citizens in their state and selected by a panel of national judges.

The Lincoln Award was presented to me for what was termed, my "Demonstrated ability to cast a compelling vision for America's future; demonstrated ability to overcome colleagues' complacency or fears of uncertainty."

Mark Meckler, President of Citizens for Self-Governance and the Convention of States said, "Rep. Taylor is among those state legislators who holds up the highest standard of statesmanship in our country."

We Will be Victorious

Quite frankly, I was humbled to be recognized with the Lincoln Award for Leadership. Since first filing the Article V Resolution in South Carolina in 2013, I have been joined by many legislators and citizens working hard for passage of the Resolution to put America back on the right track. With the help of thousands of citizen volunteers in the Palmetto State, I pledge to maximize my efforts in the next legislative session to cross the finish line and be successful in helping put restrictions on our out-of-control, bloated federal government, by helping bring control on Washington DC.

The Convention of States Project is currently organized in all 50 states, including more than three and a half million volunteers, supporters and advocates committed to stopping the Federal Government's abuse of power. Twelve states: Alaska, Florida, Georgia, Alabama, Indiana, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Louisiana, Arizona, North Dakota, Texas and Missouri have passed identical Article V Resolutions since the Project's founding in 2013. Virginia hosted the first-ever Simulated Article V Convention of States in the fall of 2016. For more information, visit

Picture of the Week...



At long last, the Ridge Spring-Monetta area is getting a new high school. I was honored to join other elected officials, faculty and students in the groundbreaking ceremony for the new facility. The new high school is sorely needed. Here is just one example - currently, students do not have lockers so they have to lug book bags from class to class. Thankfully, the new high school will have lockers and other modern upgrades to aid in educating students. Construction is scheduled to be complete by the end of 2019. The estimated cost is $40.6 million.


I'm Available and AT YOUR SERVICE


It is my honor to be of service to you. If you need assistance navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.


June 30, 2018: A Good Day for South Carolina


The South Carolina General Assembly returned to the Statehouse this past week to mop up important unfinished legislative business. As the gavel fell on the session I could only say, "It was a good day for South Carolina".

SCE&G's Rate Cut 15%

A major focus of this legislative year has been to right the wrongs of SCANA (SCE&G) and Santee Cooper for their failures to construct the two abandoned nuclear reactors at V.C. Summers. The utilities spent a combined $9 billion on two reactors before abandoning them last summer. That's been particularly costly to SCE&G ratepayers who have suffered nine rate hikes and have been paying an additional 18-percent on their monthly power bills while getting nothing in return.

This week House-Senate conferees hammered out comprehensive legislation that temporarily cuts SCE&G's electric rates by 15-percent. That saves utility's customers some $260 million on their power bills through the end of the year.

The House had sought to eliminate the nuclear surcharge by taking the rate to zero; the Senate proposed to reduce the surcharge from 18-percent to 5-percent. Conference Committee members compromised at 3-percent. Both the House and Senate approved the legislation and sent it to Gov. Henry McMaster who quickly vetoed it. For several months he had vowed to veto any bill that did not completely eliminate the nuclear surcharge and he kept true to his promise. However, it took only minutes for both the House and Senate to override the veto putting into law the temporary rate reduction of 15-percent.

What's Next?


• First Step: While the legislature passed the law, it's up to the Public Service Commission to implement the temporary 15-percent cut in power bills. The PSC meets Monday to take action.

• Temporary: The temporary rate reduction is just that - temporary. However, the rate cut extends back to April 1. Electric rates will be cut through December when the PSC is set to decide who pays for the failed nuclear reactors in the coming decades.

• Push Back:
SCE&G has vowed for months to sue the state if lawmakers intervened in their rates contending the legislative rate cut is unconstitutional. So far, no lawsuit has been filed.

• Impact on Dominion on SCE&G Takeover: Dominion has opposed the legislature taking action to temporarily cut rates, but there has been no announcement that they are pulling their offer to buy the utility. For now, Dominion's proposed takeover is on track.

More than a Rate Cut

The comprehensive legislation we passed also included a number of elements that the House had crafted into separate bills that it passed but failed to go to a vote in the Senate:

• Repeals most of the Base Load Review Act (that's a HUGE step forward!)

• Reforms the Public Service Commission and the Office of Regulatory Staff (ORS)

• Creates a consumer advocate for ratepayers

• Allows for long term rate relief by defining the terms of "prudent" and "imprudent" (critical legal terms going forward)

• Gives ORS the tools needed to access confidential documents of utilities and subpoena powers

• Eliminates the July 12, 2018 deadline whereby the PSC must make a decision on the SCANA-Dominion merger giving the PSC time for a thorough review

• Establishes a new timeline for the PSC to make a decision by December 21, 2018

With the passage of this comprehensive reform bill the legislature took a tremendous step forward toward providing immediate and permanent long-term relief for South Carolina electric ratepayers while systemically reforming government agencies.

News Note: Thursday, SCANA Corporation's Board of Directors declared a quarterly dividend of 12.37 cents per share for the second quarter of the year. That is an 80% reduction of the quarterly cash dividend compared to the first quarter of this year.

State Budget Approved

The legislature passed an $8.2 billion General Fund budget this past week that is largely funded by state sales and income taxes. It has been sent to Gov. McMaster for review where he can reject individual items with his veto. Frankly, I have never voted for a budget with which I totally agreed. There are always expenditures I don't believe are needed, but a government budget is a collaborative effort that must win approval of a majority of 170 legislators from every part of the state with different interests and agendas.

Budget highlights...

• Increases the Base Student Cost for each public school student by $60
• Public school teachers get a 1 percent cost-of-living increase; the House had sought a 2-percent increase
• K-12 teachers a "step increase" for an additional year in the classroom and ensures none make less than $32,000 a year. (That's to help fill vacancies in 20 poor, rural districts that start teachers at less pay.)
• $13 million more to keep up with added enrollment in public charter schools
• $8 million more to cover the cost of replacing the remainder of the state's oldest and fire-prone school busses
• Nearly $60 million in added state money to cover the costs of the 25-percent of South Carolinians who get their health insurance through Medicaid. The Medicaid budget alone (90-percent federal money and 10-percent state money) is more than $8 billion and larger than the entire General Fund budget!
• Adds $56 million to cover higher health care costs for the more than 490,000 state workers, family members and retirees enrolled in the state health plan as of January
• Adds $32.4 million to cover the higher cost of state workers' pensions
• Adds $3.7 million to pay for raises of about $750 apiece for corrections officers
• Adds another $2 million to pay overtime costs for S.C. Highway Patrol officers
• The state's public colleges get far less than requested with only $50 million in one-time money to address building and maintenance cost

Planned Parenthood Budget Debate

You may have read about the budget debate over funding Planned Parenthood's abortion services. A group of legislators tried to defund Planned Parenthood which could have put the entire state budget in limbo for weeks or months. To be clear, I appreciate and share the pro-life passion held by many of my colleagues for protecting the rights of the unborn. But there was so much misinformation circulating on social media I am obliged to provide facts.

Depending on who was stirring the story, the State was supposedly funding Planned Parenthood to the tune of $5 million or $30 million in this budget. Actually, the federal government's Medicaid funding is the 90-percent funding source with the state chipping in 10-percent. In reality, the funds we were debating amounted to $13,000. That's $13-thousand, not millions or billions!

Under current law none of the federal or state funding that Planned Parenthood receives can be used for abortion services except to protect the health of the mother or in cases of rape and incest.

In 2016, I served on a special House Oversight Committee that investigated state funding of Planned Parenthood. We determined that no state money was being used for abortion service. By the way, during the period we investigated (2011-2015) the state did pay for 29 abortions at hospitals, not Planned Parenthood. Twenty four of those abortions were to save the life of the mother and the other five were because of rape or incest. The same holds true for last year when five abortions were paid for by state funds under the same circumstances.

The money going to Planned Parenthood and many other health providers around the state is for family-planning services only, not abortions.

Thanks to Gov. Henry McMaster, SC has applied to the federal government for a waiver to allow for more Medicaid funding discretion. If that waiver is granted Planned Parenthood would be barred from receiving any state money.

Were it not for the facts I have outlined, I would have voted to reject the budget; however, in light of those facts, and after weighing the bad outcomes that would have been associated with heading into a new fiscal year on July 1 without a budget, I voted in favor of the budget conference report.

SC High on Optimism

A new survey shows South Carolina small-business owners ranked first in the U.S. in optimism about their businesses in 2018. Womply, a technology and data service, surveyed 4,700 owners in the United States to gauge optimism and hiring intent. SC topped the optimism chart, with 95% of respondents being optimistic about their company's prospects for 2018.



Sunday, July 1, Georgia's new 'Hands Free Cell Phone Driving' legislation takes effect. If you are addicted to talking, texting, surfing social media while driving, it could be a costly mistake in Georgia. Learn more - read the Aiken Standard editorial



Thoughts, Prayers and Words of Encouragement

Please join me in support of my colleague Katie Arrington. She is SC's Republican first congressional district candidate. Arrington and her friend were critically injured in a crash on Highway 17. The head-on collision occurred when a car going the wrong way smashed into the vehicle in which Katie was a passenger. Katie is a strong person in so many ways. She vows she will continue her campaign AND I'm behind her all the way!



I'm Available and AT YOUR SERVICE

It is my honor to be of service to you. If you need assistance navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.



June 11, 2018: Voting Day has Arrived

Most Americans deeply cherish their individual freedoms, but with liberty comes responsibility. It is the responsibility of every American to cast a ballot and select the people they wish to represent them in government at every level.

Please don't be struck with apathy over our election process. In my view, if a citizen doesn't vote they don't have a right to gripe and criticize. We're all in this together.

Polls are Open Tuesday

If you have not already cast an absentee ballot, this Tuesday, June 12th, you can exercise your valuable right to vote by going to the polls. Whether you vote in the Republican or Democrat Primary Election, let you voice be heard. The polls are open from 7am-7pm across the state. (Read everything you need to know ahead of Tuesday's vote.)

Gov. McMaster Gets Our Backing

It was an honor to endorse Gov. Henry McMaster in Tuesday's GOP Primary Election. During an Aiken rally this past week, Sen. Tom Young, Rep. Bart Blackwell and Aiken County Councilman Andrew Siders endorsed the governor as well. Solicitor Strom Thurmond and Sheriff Mike Hunt previously endorsed McMaster.


In introducing McMaster at the rally, I likened him to the late Gov. Carol Campbell who is fondly remembered for his many accomplishments. As a Republican governor, Campbell got things done while dealing with a Democrat majority in the legislature. How did he do it? He worked with them, not against them. Great things can happen when you work with others.

In my view, Henry McMaster has the makings of a Carol Campbell. He's a collaborator. He's smart. He's experienced. He's charming. But, he's also as tough as nails when he needs to be. That's what we need from our governor.

I told those assembled the story of a high school student, Alex, from the Upstate who wrote the following on my Facebook:

"In reality, without the legislature, you can't change much. My fear is if we elect 'the buzz-saw' or the other outsider, they will remain on the outside of the legislative process. We need to make conservative reforms while Republicans have control of state government. I don't think either Warren or Templeton will do that running against (and burning bridges with) the legislature."

A wise observation from a teenager who knows Henry McMaster is leading a winning team.

• McMaster is the ONLY candidate endorsed by the NRA.

• ONLY candidate endorsed by SC Citizens for Life.

• And, of course, the ONLY candidate endorsed by President Donald Trump. Trump & McMaster: a partnership that will continue to benefit South Carolina.

But the most important endorsement he needs is YOURS on Tuesday. Please vote for Gov. Henry McMaster

While in Aiken....

After the "Rally-in-The-Alley', Cindy Rudisill, of Cyndi's Sweet Shoppe, made certain Gov. McMaster and his daughter, Mary, had some special Aiken sweet treats for their bus ride around the state.



There was another sweet moment following Gov. Henry McMaster's 'Rally-in-The-Alley'. Anne Perry, wife of the late Rep. Skipper Perry, gave the governor a hug and thanked him for his friendship. Gov. McMaster recalled how Skipper helped him win his first election to head the South Carolina Republican Party.


And finally, Gov. McMaster honored another Aiken tradition - he knows that any campaign stopover in downtown Aiken isn't complete without visiting the famed Lionel Smith Ltd.


Photo of the Week

Coach Brian McCormack is a lifelong Aiken County educator who is greatly admired by students, parents and colleagues. His inspirational leadership was honored by all when I presented Coach McCormack with a Resolution from the S.C. House of Representatives recognizing his retirement after 35 years of exemplary service at Ridge Spring-Monetta HS where he has served as a teacher, coach and Athletic Director. In a wheel chair since a tragic car accident in 1988, Coach McCormack says while he has a disability, he is not disabled. He received a standing ovation at the sports banquet.


I'm Available and AT YOUR SERVICE

It is my honor to be of service to you. If you need assistance navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.



May 14: 2018: The Grade Is In: ‘INCOMPLETE’

The last day of each school year brings a final report card. Achievers strive for all A's. The regular session drew to a close last Thursday and the only grade the SC Legislature can get is "INCOMPLETE". Like a struggling student who needs to pay special attention to catch up or make an additional effort, the General Assembly is headed for summer school to erase the "INCOMPLETE" grade.

Still No Final Solution to Nuke Debacle

The major disappointment is the Senate's failure to act on several critical bills the House passed earlier this year addressing the V.C. Summer $9 billion nuclear fiasco. Last week the Senate rejected the House's plan to forbid SCE&G from charging customers an 18% nuclear surcharge to cover the costs of the failed V.C. nuclear project. House members believe it is wrong to make customers foot the bill for a project that was never completed. We passed legislation to completely eliminate the surcharge. The Senate believes ratepayers should still be on the hook for a 5% monthly surcharge. The reactors were abandoned last July after SCE&G and co-owner Santee Cooper poured $9 billion into their construction, and SCE&G continues to collect $37 million a month from ratepayers in related fees. Fortunately, those bills will be revisited when the legislature reconvenes May 23-24 or in June.

Potential Nuke Progress

The Senate voted unanimously on the final day of session to repeal the Base Load Review Act, a 2007 law that allowed utilities to charge ratepayers for projects that were not complete. The Senate also voted 43-0 to give the state Office of Regulatory Staff subpoena powers and to create a consumer advocate. The measures, which have already cleared the House are now one step closer to becoming the first legislation to be made law in response to the V.C. Summer nuclear debacle. A conference committee is working to resolve differences in the House and Senate versions of the bills.

Major Unfinished Business

In our upcoming legislative session, in a couple of weeks, we will finalize the state budget that goes into effect July 1st. A conference committee is hammering out difference in the House and Senate versions of the budget. Key issue in the budget negotiations are teacher raises, school safety, prison security and correctional officer raises, the state pension system, assistance to our agriculture industry, and tax relief. Another major item to be settled is conforming the state tax code to the federal code. Without conforming the two, South Carolinian's will be paying more in state income taxes. The House has passed legislation to reinstate the personal exemption. That bill is pending in the Senate.

Legislation That DIED

• The House passed legislation on April 5th that increased penalties for individuals who commit, plan, or assist an act of terror. The Senate decided not to allow a vote on this legislation.

• Despite employers voicing the need to find workers with computer science and science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) skills, the Senate refused to pass a bill proposed by House Speaker Jay Lucas to form a curriculum for this in our public schools. It is most unfortunate the Senate failed to help our students learn the skills for the jobs of the future.

• Another disappointment was the Senate's failure to pass the House bill that would make dismemberment abortions illegal in the Palmetto State. Pro-abortion Democrats led a filibuster in the Senate that doomed this reform.

Distracted Driving Continues Unchecked in SC


Sadly, I report the DUI-E (Driving Under the Influence of Electronic Devices) legislation I championed died before receiving a vote from the full House. By comparison, Georgia moved swiftly this year by passing and signing into law a nearly identical bill that takes effect July 1. Georgia is the 16th state to enact the hands-free cell phone legislation for drivers. SC could still be the 17th if we quickly move forward next year. I will refile the bill and push it hard. For the sake of public safety, I hope we don't delay because eventually we will enact this legislation. The only question - will we be the 17th or 47th state to pass this legislation like we do so many other common sense bills. All drivers know how dangerous our roads have become because of distracted driving - a recent poll shows 65% of South Carolinian's support the hands-free bill, only 12% oppose it. My goal: Get 'Er Done!

Success - A Fix for Education Leadership

It took 27 years of legislative effort, but at long last South Carolinians will get the opportunity to vote on major reform in education. In November, voters will decide on a Constitutional referendum that would make the SC superintendent of education a gubernatorial appointment, rather than an elected position. Republicans have long sought this change to bring more accountability to the state's education efforts. The legislation passed the Senate in the final minutes of the session as the clocked ticked toward the 5:00 pm Sine Die deadline.

Major Legislative Achievements

While the V.C. Summer nuclear fiasco dominated the 2018 legislative agenda and tended to suck the air out of the General Assembly, there were successes. Here's a topline list for the two year session:

• Government Reorganization - Finalized legislation that puts the governor and lieutenant governor running on the same ticket starting this year.

• Government Transparency - In the first half of this legislative session, Gov. Henry McMaster ushered in what he called, "a big step forward" in government transparency with the signing of a bill that closed loopholes in SC's Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) insuring more government transparency. I have been the primary champion of this legislation since my first term in office.

• Road Funding - Like it or not, this session brought passage of the controversial 71% increase in the state's gas tax. The tax is being phased in 2-cents a year until it reaches and additional 12-cents per-gallon by 2023.

• Retirement System Reform - In the first year of the session the legislature hammered out a bill that took a major step forward in bringing solvency to the public employee retirement system. The pension legislation calls for public employees pay a bit more - and state agencies a lot more - in an effort to shore up the struggling retirement system. Regrettably, the promise to transition to a "defined contributions" plan, like a 401(k) didn't materialize this year.

• Protecting Children - Created the Children's Advocacy Department, an umbrella agency designed to act as a watchdog over all child services offered by state government.

• Combatting Opioid Addiction - A new law authorizes pharmacists to dispense opioid antidotes to certain community organizations while another requires opioid addiction education in high school.

• Expanding Health Care - Medical professionals are lauding a bill that frees advanced practice registered nurses by giving them more geographic freedom from an overseeing physician. This reduces barriers for Nurse practitioners to practice and strengthens SC's health care workforce.

• Dyslexia Screening - Mandatory dyslexia screening for all kindergarten and first graders to provide early detection of this medical issue that can bring academic difficulties.

• School Choice Victory - Codification of the Exceptional Needs SC program which gives tuition breaks to parents and caregivers who have enrolled a student at a private school to meet the student's special-needs education.

• REAL I.D. Act Passes - A law won approval to bring South Carolina into compliance with federal REAL I.D. requirements. It's not mandatory; citizens may opt out of REAL I.D.

• Good Neighbor Policy - The so-called 'chicken bill' became law allowing neighboring residents to contest a chicken farm being erected.

• Prohibiting Endless Delays - There is a history of endless lawsuits intended to menace SC manufacturers. Legislation was passed requiring judges to offer a ruling on a challenged project in less than 90 days and another new law that says existing manufacturers cannot be sued by new neighbors for being a nuisance.

• Liquor Fix - Following a SC Supreme Court ruling nullifying a law limiting the number of liquor stores, the General Assembly passed a revised law keeping the number of stores per liquor license to three in the state.

• Litter Enforcement - SC's litter enforcement is lousy (just look alongside our roads and highways). The legislature passed a bill this year restructuring fines to fit the crime. Experts believe this will encourage enforcement of littler laws as it has done in other states.

• Moped Safety Act - After years of legislative efforts, loopholes were closed in various laws to subject moped operators to the same violations, including DUI, as other motorists.

• Work Zone Safety Act - Prompted by the senseless hit & run deaths of two Aiken County SCDOT workers, the Aiken Legislative Delegation proposed a law to strengthen penalties for those who endanger the life of a highway workers. The bill won swift approval from the House and Senate. Gov. McMaster came to Aiken to sign it into law with SCDOT workers standing with him.

Mark Your Calendar - We Need YOUR Input
Higher Education Town Hall in Aiken

SC's Commission on Higher Education will be conducting a Town Hall in Aiken this Thursday, May 17th. The topic: College Access & Affordability in South Carolina.


In Sunday's Op-Ed in the Aiken Standard I wrote, "The college affordability crisis has reached a fever pitch in South Carolina, and the citizens of the state are in need of help. This is the message citizens and state leaders have been hearing at town hall events being hosted across the state by the S.C. Commission on Higher Education." (Read the Op-Ed column)

Please join this discussion on the future of higher education in South Carolina this Thursday at Aiken High School at 5:30 p.m. Your thoughts and input are needed to help chart an affordable and sustainable path forward for higher education in our state.


Photo of the Week



Like many of you, our family celebrated Mother's Day Sunday. A portion of our day was at the Aiken Charity Horse Show at Bruce's Field. Our daughter, Kasey, was competing and the rest of the family gathered to support her. Good times celebrating the three MOMs!  (L-R: Kasey, granddaughter Avery, son Ryan, granddaughter Laurel, daughter-in-luv Jackie, my wife, Donna, granddaughter Lydia and me.)

I'm Available and AT YOUR SERVICE

It is my honor to be of service to you. If you need assistance navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.





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