The state legislative session is moving along, and the Republican Caucus is making great progress on the bills important to you.
Earlier this year, we rolled out a Jobs and Reform Agenda, because what I hear more than anything from folks in our community is that they want a government that works, and government that gets out of the way of getting them back to work.
That means we have to have a government that does what it’s supposed to do well and that works transparently. At the same time, as a business owner I know we need to make sure government isn’t slowing down the pace of hiring and growing businesses.
I’m pleased to say we’re well under way toward those goals.
Earlier this year, I introduced a bill that will put all of the highway building in this state under the Department of Transportation. Most folks don’t know that we even have someone else building roads in the South Carolina, but we do – an agency called the State Infrastructure Bank.
The problem with the Infrastructure Bank is that all counties don’t get treated equally, even with things we can measure like traffic and needed maintenance. The Infrastructure Bank builds roads based on whoever can yell the loudest or spread the most dollars around, and more often than not that ends up being the Coast. Meanwhile, we’ve all driven on I-85 through Cherokee County and know how bad we need maintenance here. It doesn’t make sense to be paying for bells and whistles when the roads we have are falling apart.
I’m also again going to work hard this year getting a spending caps bill put in place. For too long in Columbia, the only limit on spending has been how much in taxes the government takes in. I think we need to change that, and we need to get caps in place to make sure government growth doesn’t happen faster than we can pay for it on a yearly basis. Then, when times are good, we can put money away for a rainy day.
The last thing in the economic arena we have to address this year is cyber security. You’ve all probably gotten a letter this year from the Department of Revenue advising you about identity theft, and I know because I’ve gotten one too. The more we learn about what happened there the more it’s becoming clear it should’ve never happened in the first place, and the Senate is committed to make sure it doesn’t happen again. I think cyber security is important to our economy, because people doing business in South Carolina need to know they’re doing so securely.
The second part of what we’re focusing on this year is our reform agenda, to streamline and bring more transparency to government.
Already, the Senate has passed a Department of Administration bill, that gets rid of the state Budget and Control Board once and for all. I’ve said before that when everyone is in charge, no one is in charge, and the Senate is going to fix it this year.
We’ve also started work on making our ethics laws stronger, and we’re doing that by cracking down on shady special interest groups and by making sure more information is reported about who is paying lawmakers in their “day jobs.” I also support doing away with the practice of letting the House and Senate police their own Ethics violations, because it looks like a case of the foxes guarding the henhouse.
In addition, we’ve already passed a bill that fixes the mess that kicked hundreds of candidates off the ballot this past year. Under the old law, incumbents and challengers were treated differently, and I don’t think that’s right. Voters need to know that those of us serving the public are in Columbia looking out for you, not for themselves.
In closing, I would like to congratulate the town of Clover on its 125th anniversary. I will continue to update you on our progress throughout the year.
S.C. Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler represents District 14, which includes parts of Lake Wylie.