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Constituent Update #4 – 2015

Things are heating up in Columbia. Here’s some of what we’ve been working on…

Audits
I have maintained that reform measures within the SC Department of Transportation are essential to solving our road issues (see earlier commentary). The public and members of the General Assembly must be confident that SCDOT is operating as efficiently as possible and funds are being spent wisely. This was reinforced recently when I was provided a department update by the Secretary of Transportation, Janet Oakley. Unconvinced that internal reforms were sufficiently on the table, I have requested an audit of the department by the Legislative Audit Council. I recently received word that the audit will soon begin. (see audit confirmation here)Recent events surrounding the financial distress at South Carolina State University, have resulted in a request for an audit of that institution as well. This came after the Senate approved a plan to remove the existing board of trustees at SCSU and replace it with a temporary oversight commission. The goal is to ensure the viability of SCSU going forward. In order to do that a full audit is necessary to fully understand the financial position of the university.

Palmetto Payback
Do you have money owed to you? Millions of dollars are transferred to the state annually by companies that cannot locate the rightful owners. Examples of the type of property include bank accounts, stock certificates, checks, insurance policies and utility deposits. ThePalmetto Payback Program is looking to return funds to thousands of residents.  To see if you are owed money,click here to check the program.

Transportation Infrastructure
Last week a bill I cosponsored, that would restructure SCDOT in hopes of solving many of the structural and financial  inefficiencies within the department, suffered a setback in committee when parliamentary maneuvering was used to block it’s advancement. The bill would improve governance and transfer audit responsibilities from the department to the Office of Inspector General. We will continue the debate this week.

Parliamentary maneuvers were also used in an attempt to fast track a roads funding bill to the floor. This bill contains revenue increases but no reform. That attempt failed for now. I am not opposed to revenue plans for our state’s deteriorated and unsafe roads, however if increased funds are to be sent to SCDOT, we must do everything we can to ensure those resources will be deployed in the most efficient way possible.

Other Business
The following items were passed by the Senate and have been sent to the House for consideration… Judicial Elections – provides additional time for members of the General Assembly to review the Judicial Merit Selection Committee’s report before candidates can seek commitments. Civics Education – requires all high school students, as a part of their existing U.S. History requirements, to take the same 100 question exam given to those seeking citizenship. Healthcare – several bills designed to lower the cost of healthcare delivery have advanced. S413 expands the lest of vaccines that may be administered by at pharmacist. S357 provides a path to immunity from liability for healthcare services that are provided free of charge.  Federal Balanced Budget – several weeks ago I met with Ohio Governor John Kasich who was in Columbia to advocate for fiscal restraints to be placed on the US Congress. Several bills are in front of the Senate that call for amendments to the U.S. Constitution.

Please reach out to me if you have further questions about these or any other issues.  I am happy to take a deeper dive with you.

I’d love to visit with your group or organization. let me know if you’re looking for a speaker (Booking Request).

And as always, thank you for your support.  It is my pleasure to serve as your Senator!

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