I’d like to answer two good questions put to me at times when I was unable to give a proper response.
The first was after the most recent Jasper County delegation meeting. A woman who asked in a pleasant but matter-of-fact manner why the delegation “did not do more to get an equitable redistricting of the Jasper school board districts” approached.
The surging crowd separated us and I was unable to give her a complete answer.
The answer is this: At my request, the House did intervene in the ACLU lawsuit, and we kept the districts from being much more malapportioned, as would have been the case under the Senate plan.
We did make a positive difference in that we presented the judge with population projections for the high growth areas that indicated that at the first election, several of the large districts would be severely malapportioned.
He did take that into consideration, and made some adjustments to the plan put forth by the late Sen. Clementa Pinckney. Unfortunately, he was constrained by the applicable statutes that mandate use of the latest official census (2010) as the baseline for the calculations.
While this explanation does not make your vote equal to some of your neighbors in other districts, you certainly deserve an answer from your representative. The 2020 census will be our next opportunity to begin another reapportionment.
The second question came from a host of folks, including Cindi Ross Scoppe, editorial writer for The State newspaper, whose comments were reprinted in the Island Packet on Sept. 9.
The question had to do with why the Legislative Oversight Committee (LOC) was in the process of addressing the Planned Parenthood dustup, after so many other state entities had already done so, especially since the LOC was both a critical mission and in a serious time crunch to look at as many as 200 agencies in the required seven-year rotation.
The answer: I was not inclined to add the Planned Parenthood matter to the already overburdened schedule but felt it proper to poll the committee.
Members were divided, but we decided to go forward with the investigation.
There were also two House committee chairmen asking for another investigation, as well as five individual members. Therefore, on Aug. 26, we adopted a motion to commence an investigation of state agencies, including, but not limited to, Department of Health and Environmental Control, Department of Social Services, and Department of Health and Human Services regarding any relationship to, or funding of, Planned Parenthood facilities, and other abortion providers in South Carolina.
As chairman, I appointed an ad hoc committee consisting of four members of the majority party, four of the minority party, and chaired by Rep. Gary E. Clary. Clary is a retired judge well regarded for his judicial temperament, who is unlikely to allow this investigation to become anything other than the measured and prudent proceeding that is the standard of our committee.
If you would like to send us an email on this or any other of our projects, visit www.statehouse.gov and follow the links to the Legislative Oversight Committee page. We want to hear from you.
Weston Newton is the representative for District 120 in the State House of Representatives.