I am enthusiastically looking forward to our new session of the South Carolina legislature. This will be the 125th General Assembly in our state’s history. It begins Jan. 10 and will continue through May 11 unless it is extended for special circumstances.
My eagerness is largely because I am pleased to report I have been elected to a new major responsibility by my fellow representatives. I will be serving as chairman of the Regulations & Administrative Procedures standing committee in the House. I believe this can be one of our most influential committees because it has purview and touches almost every aspect of how state agencies exercise their responsibilities. I will also be serving on the Education Committee.
For readers unfamiliar with the South Carolina General Assembly, there are two legislative bodies – the House and the Senate. The House is composed of 124 members representing equally sized geographical districts based on population. There are 46 senators also based on population.
In the South Carolina House there are 13 standing committees: Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs; Education and Public Works; Interstate Cooperation; Judiciary; Labor, Commerce and Industry; Legislative Ethics; Legislative Oversight; Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs; Regulations and Administrative Procedures; Rules; Ways & Means, plus Invitations and Memorial Resolutions and Operations and Management which is advisory to the Speaker about personnel administration. In the Senate there are 15 standing committees.
I am deeply honored to have been elected by my peers to lead my committee. Regulations apply to the entirety of our state, and virtually every facet of business along with healthcare and environmental matters, the DMV, natural resources, consumer affairs and even education. I look forward to diligently exercising my new responsibilities and heading off unintended consequences of bad regulations that come to our attention.
Congratulations are also in order for other members of our Beaufort County delegation who have been elected to head other standing committees. Shannon Erickson of Beaufort (House District 124) is chair of the Education and Public Works Committee, while Weston Newton of Bluffton (House District 120) is chairing the Judiciary Committee. I’ve been told that never before have three Beaufort County representatives been standing committee chair persons at one time.
Additionally, Bluffton’s Bill Herbkersman (House District 118) is vice chairman of the very powerful Ways & Means Committee which sets the state budget and agenda. On the Senate side, our Sen. Tom Davis (Senate District 46) has been elected chairman of the Senate’s Labor, Commerce and Industry Standing Committee.
It appears that the Republican majority in the General Assembly is preparing for a fast start. As of Dec. 31, more than 900 pre-bills had been filed for review in the House alone. I expect high on the agenda will be education issues, in particular, enacting parental choice by creating Education Savings Accounts (E.S.A.) so parents are not hindered sending their children to underperforming schools because of where they live.
Jeff Bradley is the representative for District 123 in the State House of Representatives.