Representative Bill Hixon – District 83 – South Carolina

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Budget Week- Bill Hixon Legislative Update 3/31/17

Budget Week
 
 

The House debated the state budget and passed H. 3720, the General Appropriations Bill for FY2017/2018, and H. 3721, the Capitol Reserve Fund Appropriations Bill. My Republican colleagues and I voted on a final budget that fully funds the necessities of our state while balancing the bottom line without debt.

 

In a release to the media, Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington) and House Majority Leader Gary Simrill (R-Rock Hill) had the following to say regarding the budget:

 

House Speaker Jay Lucas said, "Although new revenue is scarce in comparison to years past, the House successfully appropriated additional educational resources for South Carolina students, provided a pathway to solvency for our state's retirement system, and assisted struggling families with Hurricane Matthew recovery. Ways and Means Chairman Brian White (R-Anderson) and the subcommittee chairman worked tremendously hard on this budget package and I am proud of the product this body has adopted as the financial blueprint for the next fiscal year."

 

House Majority Leader Gary Simrill said, "Each year the South Carolina House of Representatives fulfills its constitutional responsibility to originate and pass a statewide budget plan. This year was no different, and I applaud the strong leadership from House Speaker Jay Lucas and House Ways & Means Chairman Brian White for crafting a conservative budget. Unlike Washington, D.C., we balance our budget each year and do not engage in building deficits. House Republicans again delivered a budget package that reins in government spending, and stretches taxpayer dollars without raising income taxes."

 

I agree with their sentiments because much like a family budget, we prioritized needs over wants while finding a proper balance for long-term investments in the future of our state. Every dollar was scrutinized, and every penny accounted for.

 

Over the past three months the House Ways and Means Committee listened to testimony from dozens of government agencies and appropriated state dollars to fund the operations of state government. Some big-ticket items of note include:

 

· Desperately needed funding for workforce training, allowing South Carolinians to compete in the growing technologically innovative international economy.

· Addressing the building and maintenance needs of our state's struggling rural school districts with $100 million for capital improvements of K-12 schools.

· $82 million in cleanup funds to cover costs incurred following Hurricane Matthew.

 

Our state's conservative approach to budgeting is one reason we enjoy an outstanding AAA credit rating. The budget now heads to the Senate for further consideration

 

In order for me to have a strong voice in Columbia, I have to communicate with my constituents. And that is you! My website, newsletters, mailers, and Facebook are the communication tools that I use. It takes extra time, staff, and campaign funds to maintain these tools. 

 

If you would like to contribute, please mail a check to Hixon for House, P.O. Box 7927, North Augusta, SC 29861. You can also make a contribution online on my website.

 

I hope that you find this update helpful and informative. If I can help you with an issue, please let me know. Thank you for reading and allowing me to serve you.

 

Legislative Update   –  March 31, 2017

 

Budget for Fiscal Year 2017-2018

 

 

 

The House of Representatives amended, approved, and sent the Senate H.3720, the General Appropriation Bill, and H.3721, the joint resolution making appropriations from the Capital Reserve Fund, which together comprise the $26.9 billion FISCAL YEAR 2017-2018 STATE GOVERNMENT BUDGET. The budget includes $7.9 billion in recurring state general fund revenue, $29 million in nonrecurring Fiscal Year 2016-2017 certified surplus, and $139 million in Capital Reserve Funds.

 

 

The Capital Reserve Fund is utilized to supply South Carolina's share in Federal Emergency Management Agency natural disaster recovery efforts, with $82 million provided for the state's FEMA match for Hurricane Matthew and $1.25 million provided for the FEMA match for the Pinnacle Mountain fire. $700,000 of these Hurricane Matthew FEMA match funds are allotted to the Town of Nichols which suffered particular devastation during the storm's floods.

$5 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for statewide coastal beach re-nourishment.

$150 million is devoted to the initial 2% increase in the employer contribution rates for the South Carolina Retirement System and the Police Officers Retirement System that is in keeping with the schedule for addressing the unfunded liability facing the state's pensions proposed by a joint legislative study committee in H.3726, the Retirement System Funding and Administration Act. The funds cover the entire 2% increase for state employees and Education Improvement Act obligations as well as 1% of the employer contribution increase for all others so that local governments and other employers that participate in these state pension systems will be responsible for funding only half of this 2% increase in employer contribution rates.

 

The annual salary of each commissioner who has served on the Retirement System Investment Commission for longer than two years is reduced to one dollar.

 

$25.4 million is included to cover the increased costs of operating the state's health insurance and dental plans with no increases in the premiums paid by employees.

For K-12 public education, $38 million is used to increase the base student cost by $50 to arrive at $2,400 per pupil.

The Abbeville Equity Districts Capital Improvement Plan is afforded $100 million in nonrecurring funds to be allocated by the Department of Education for funding school facility upgrades at the plaintiff school districts in the Abbeville education lawsuit and any other school districts with a poverty index of at least eighty percent. Funding is to be used for construction or renovation of such instructional facilities as classrooms, libraries, media centers, laboratories, cafeterias, and physical education spaces, as well as for health and safety improvements and technology upgrades inside school facilities. Funding may not be used for land purchases or for other facilities such as those that support centralized district administration or interscholastic sports activities.

$19.4 million in Education Improvement Act funds is included to address S.C. Public Charter School District growth.

$12 million in Education Improvement Act funds is provided for technology aid to school districts which has previously been funded through the Education Lottery.

The legislation suspends the National Board Certification program with its teacher salary supplements and the $54 million in savings is redirected towards teacher retention.

$375,000 in Education Improvement Act funds is included for teacher supplies.

$10 million in Education Lottery funding is allocated to purchasing or leasing new school buses.

$3 million is included to help fund the cost of industry certification exams so that students in vocational programs will not have to bear the full cost of obtaining the certifications needed for pursuing their chosen careers.

$1 million in Education Improvement Act funds is allocated for the Youth Challenge Academy boot camp program for at-risk youth.

Authorization is provided for all financial and programmatic management and operations of the John de la Howe School for at-risk youth to be suspended and all employees terminated, effective July 1, 2017. After the terminated employees final compensation has been paid all remaining funds and vacant FTE's are to be transferred to Clemson University PSA which is charged with managing and maintaining the grounds and other property of the estate and evaluating how agricultural educational programs might be implemented that would be in keeping with the terms of Dr. John de la Howe's will. Clemson University is to report to the Senate Finance Committee and to the House Ways and Means Committee by December 1 on its findings and recommendations.

Full funding is provided for the LIFE, HOPE, and Palmetto Fellows higher education scholarship programs. Again the scholarships are fully funded through the Education Lottery including the increases that are anticipated because of the conversion to a ten point grading scale in K-12 public education.

$10 million is appropriated for Workforce Scholarships to provide grants for tuition, fees, transportation, or textbook expenses to South Carolinians enrolled in career education programs at technical schools or professional certification programs.

The Board of Technical and Comprehensive Education is afforded $10 million for Career Pathways initiative for addressing critical workforce needs, $9.6 million from the Capital Reserve Fund for worker training through the Ready SC Program at the state's technical colleges, and $10 million from the Education Lottery for Allied Health career training.

$2 million in recurring funds and $20 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for the Deal Closing Fund that the Department of Commerce uses to recruit new business to the state. The Department of Commerce is afforded appropriations of $5.5 million in nonrecurring funds $7.5 million from the Capital Reserve Fund for the Locate SC Site Inventory, $2 million in nonrecurring funds for applied research centers, $200,000 in nonrecurring funds for IT-ology Coursepower, $400,000 in recurring funds for small business development centers, $350,000 in recurring funds for international strategy and trade, $150,000 in recurring funds for the Coordinating Council for Workforce Development, $250,000 in nonrecurring funds for non-community development block grant disaster recovery from the 2015 flood, and $300,000 in nonrecurring funds for the Military Base Task Force.

The Department of Employment and Workforce receives $498,854 for the Certified Work-Ready Communities Program which administers work readiness assessments to measure the quality and capability of the state's workforce.

The Department of Agriculture is afforded $500,000 in nonrecurring funds for consumer protection equipment, $1.5 million in recurring funds for agribusiness development grants to increase the available of fresh fruits and vegetables in underprivileged urban communities, and $1 million in recurring funds to expand "Certified SC" marketing of the state's produce.

$22 million is used to provide full funding for the constitutional reserve accounts that the state uses to cope with budget shortfalls.

The Local Government Fund is maintained at a funding level of $212 million.

The Department of Health and Human Services is afforded $45.4 million in recurring funds to address Medicaid program cost growth.

$8.8 million is provided from the Capital Reserve Fund for a Medicaid Management Information System.

The budget provides for the continuation of the Medicaid accountability and quality improvement programs of the Healthy Outcomes Initiative which focuses on meeting the needs of chronically ill uninsured patients in settings other than the comparatively expensive emergency room through a Primary Care Safety Net utilizing such resources as Federally Qualified Health Centers and free clinics.

The budget furthers efforts to enhance provider capacity in underserved communities through such initiatives as physician residency placements in rural areas. $4 million in nonrecurring funds is provided for a Rural Hospital Transformation Plan and $2 million in recurring funds is provided for a Rural Health Initiative partnership between DHHS and the USC School of Medicine to improve access to life-saving emergency room care in the wake of rural hospital closures. The state's telemedicine network is afforded $9 million through its proviso and a $2 million increase in recurring funds.

The Medical University of South Carolina Hospital Authority receives $5 million in recurring funds to begin the process of reestablishing an Adult Burn Unit in the state.

A provision is included prohibiting the use of any general funds to purchase fetal tissue obtained from an abortion to perform scientific or laboratory research or other kinds of investigation conducted on fetal tissue.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control receives $4.9 million from the Capital Reserve Fund for its dam safety inspection and permitting program, $3.2 million in recurring funds for its data center infrastructure, $3.8 million in recurring funds for electronic medical records, and $500,000 in recurring funds for Best Chance Network/Colon Cancer early detection screenings.

The Department of Mental Health receives $11 million for forensics and the Sexually Violent Predator Program.

The Department of Disabilities and Special Needs receives $9 million in recurring funds to increase front-line staff salaries agency wide from $10.11 per hour to $11 per hour.

$24.5 million from the Capital Reserve Fund is provided for the development of the child support system at the Department of Social Services. $18 million in recurring funds is allocated to the department to address requirements from class-action lawsuit settlement agreements. $500,000 from the Capital Reserve Fund is provided for additional residential shelter for domestic violence survivors.

$3 million in recurring funds is provided for aid to fire districts.

The Forestry Commission receives $1 million in nonrecurring funds for firefighter safety and public protection equipment.

The Judicial Department is afforded $2.5 million in recurring funds for information technology infrastructure and $3.1 million for funding stabilization due to declining revenue from court fees and fines.

The Attorney General's Office receives $618,860 for Internet crimes against children and violent sex crimes prosecution.

The State Law Enforcement Division is provided $406,910 in recurring funds for law enforcement officer rank change, $488,000 in recurring funds for officer overtime, $2 million in recurring funds to complete its vehicle rotation, and $829,665 in recurring funds and $448,000 in nonrecurring funds for counter terrorism and arson personnel.

The Department of Public Safety is appropriated recurring funds in the amounts of $180,720 for information technology security positions, $88,000 for network infrastructure needs, $939,600 for in-car video cameras, and $700,000 for local law enforcement grants.

The salary and position of the Director of the Department of Public Safety is eliminated in the budget.

The Department of Corrections receives $4 million in recurring dollars for its correctional officer hiring rate adjustment and retention plan to reduce turnover rate at the agency, $1.5 million in recurring funds for the final phase of its mental health remediation plan, $469,911 in recurring funds for the final phase of its medical remediation plan, and $285,451 for the first half of the department's plans for equipping inmates with skills that will help them to reenter society.

The Department of Probation, Parole, and Pardon Services is provided $1.1 million in recurring funds for its agent vehicle support plan and $1.2 million in recurring funds for domestic violence specialized caseload.

The Department of Juvenile Justice receives $502,375 in recurring funds for its correctional officer hiring rate adjustment and retention plan to reduce turnover rate at the agency.

The Criminal Justice Academy receives $550,400 in recurring funds for law enforcement psychological screening.

The Department of Natural Resources is allocated $4.1 million in recurring funds for law enforcement salary realignment, $105,908 in recurring funds for law enforcement officer step increases, and $1.8 million in recurring funds for outreach programs.

Clemson PSA receives $700,000 for the statewide extension program and $600,000 to enhance agriculture and natural resources programs and facilities.

The State Ethics Commission receives $105,300 in recurring funds and $10,000 in nonrecurring funds for additional administrative assistants.

The State Election Commission receives $201,000 in recurring funds for the supervision of county boards of voter registration and elections.

The Division of Information Security at the Department of Administration receives $2 million in recurring funds for enterprise technology and remediation to enhance threat prevention and detection measures at state agencies.

The Department of Consumer Affairs is appropriated $153,113 in recurring funds for employee retention.

The Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism receives $3.3 million in recurring state general funds for welcome center operations, $2.2 million in nonrecurring funds to address revenue loss at coastal state parks due to Hurricane Matthew, and $1 million in nonrecurring funds for facilities revitalization.

$6 million from the Litigation Recovery Account is provided for the Parks and Recreation Development Fund which is used for awarding grants to fund improvements at local government parks and recreational facilities.

The Department of Transportation is appropriated $5 million in current fuel revenue diversions to allow a greater percentage of SCDOT revenue to be used exclusively for repairs, maintenance, and improvements to the existing transportation system.

A voluntary local road transfer program is included to allow the Department of Transportation to enter into contracts with counties and municipalities to allow some of the thousands of miles of smaller, less-traveled, often fragmented stretches of roadways currently in the state highway system to come under local control. Mutual agreements may be reached that allow these local governments to assume responsibility for roads within their boundaries and receive compensation from SCDOT for roads transferred out of the state system that may include credits towards future construction projects, payment of funds from the state's share of the County Transportation Committee funds, or satisfaction of debt owed to the department.

The State Transportation Infrastructure Bank Board is required to provide live streamed coverage of all Board meetings to ensure transparency and access for the public.

The Division of Aeronautics receives nonrecurring funding in the amounts of $100,000 for airport facilities security system replacement and $150,000 for airline recruitment and retention.

The State Fiscal Accountability Authority is required to compile and post on its website a report on contract usage and administrative fees.

State employees with salaries under $40,000 are exempted from any mandatory furloughs that state agencies may have to institute as a cost-saving measure to address budget shortfalls.

A $1 million increase is provided for state aid to county libraries.

The Arts Commission receives $350,000 for grants to local arts organizations.

The Department of Archives and History is afforded $200,000 for the preservation of South Carolina's seven constitutions.

The Lieutenant Governor's Office on Aging receives $23,450 in recurring funds for the Vulnerable Adult Guardian Ad Litem Program and $200,000 in recurring funds for family caregiver services that allow seniors to remain their homes and avoid the more expensive alternative of institutional care.

 As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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Merry Christmas – Bill Hixon Legislative Update

 

 

Peace, joy, and good will to all

 

These are popular sentiments year-round, but especially during the Christmas season. 

In the hustle and bustle of our lives, it's important to find a place of peacefulness and sanctuary. A time of restfulness and renewal. It helps us express the true meaning of Christmas, no matter where we are or what we're doing.

 

I would like to express my gratitude for the opportunity to serve you and your family throughout the year. My commitment is to provide you with the best possible representation, and that is a commitment I honor not only during this special season, but throughout the year.

 

My best wishes are extended to you and your family for a wonderful holiday season and may peace, joy, and good will surround you in the days to come.

 

The Magic of Christmas never ends and its greatest of gifts are family and friends.

 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!  

 

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Merry Christmas – Bill Hixon Legislative Update

 

The Magic of Christmas never ends and its greatest of gifts are of family and friends.

Merry  Christmas and Happy New Year!

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615 New Jobs, Common Core, MOX Gets Funded

Dear Friends,

Sure hope everyone enjoyed their Mother’s Day weekend.

Just four weeks are remaining in the legislative session, the race to the finish has officially begun. The General Assembly is slated to adjourn at 5:00 pm on June 5th, and they are determined to complete their work by that date and not extend session this year. That will translate into long days of session and late evenings at the Statehouse in order to get it all done.

Not all of our work involves the creation or modification of laws. Sometimes we just have to get on the phone and point out the obvious and make suggestions. For example, I was able to get an official turnaround access cut-through on I-20 right at the Georgia/South Carolina State line. This will allow emergency vehicles easy access to this portion of I-20 without having to go all the way into Georgia. The State prison crews are not allowed to cross the state lines. Now they can use this access to clean the eastbound lane coming into South Carolina.

The SC Primary Election will be held Tuesday, June 10th. If you are not currently registered to vote, you must register by 5/17/2014 in order to vote in the Primary. Visit SCVotes.org for registration information. To check your voter registration information and to view a sample ballot, click here.

Special THANK YOU to the 3rd graders from Hammond Hills Elementary that came to visit us in Columbia! It was an honor to hang out with such wonderful group of kids! 

In order for me to have a strong voice in Columbia, I have to communicate with my constituents. And that is you! My website, newsletters, mailers and Facebook are the communication tools that I use. It takes extra time, staff and campaign funds to maintain these tools.

If you would like to contribute, please mail a check to Hixon For House, P.O. Box 7927, North Augusta, SC 29861 or contribute online by going HERE.

I hope that you find this update helpful and informative. If I can help you with an issue, please let me know. Thank you for reading and allowing me to serve you.


Hixon Receives Award
I was recently honored with being selected as the House member of the Year by the National American Legion for leading the effort in passing a law to put a “Veteran” designation on drivers license. South Carolina veterans can now add a special designation on their driver’s licenses. Putting the status on a state ID means that a veteran would no longer need to carry around their Form DD214, which proves they were honorably discharged from military service. The form is required in order to be eligible for Veterans Administration benefits and membership in different veterans’ groups such as the VFW and Tuskegee Airmen.

MOX Gets Funded – SC Suspends Lawsuit
The state of South Carolina is dismissing its lawsuit filed against the federal government over the Obama administrations threats to shut down the MOX program at the Savannah River Site. The dismissal follows an announcement made earlier in the week that the Obama administration will continue to fund MOX construction through the end of the fiscal year (this September). The MOX program is part of an agreement with Russia to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium. It employs nearly 1800 people. During the just-concluded legislative furlough, Aiken County legislators joined Gov. Nikki Haley during her visit to SRS and a helicopter tour of the site.

Interstate Boating Violator Compact
The House and Senate have now passed a bill that I was the primary sponsor of and something that I have been working on for a long time. (H-4561) authorizes the SC Department of Natural Resources to enter into an Interstate Boating Violator Compact. The boater compact is the first of it’s kind in the nation and eases penalties for boaters if they are cited for violations in the other states’ waters. Rep. Bill Taylor and I stood with Georgia Governor Nathan Deal when he signed the identical bill at Lake Hartwell two weeks ago.

Dumping Common Core
The House and Senate have approved legislation preventing the implementation of the Common Core education standards and removing the state from the Common Core organization beginning next year and revert to our strong, state-created standards. This bill replaces Federal Common Core education standards with those developed in South Carolina by the 2015-16 school year.

Project Jackson Helps To Bring 615 Jobs To North Augusta
Medac Inc., a provider of revenue cycle and practice management services and information products to anesthesia-related healthcare providers, plans to establish the company’s headquarters in Aiken County. The $12 million investment will bring 615 jobs to the area. The company intends to streamline operations of three facilities into a single, consolidated facility in North Augusta, S.C. Medac will be moving to a two-story, 60,000-square-foot building in the North Augusta riverfront development area, located near the North Augusta Municipal Center.

Property Tax Legislation and Masters Housing
The House Ways and Means Property Tax Subcommittee met Wednesday and gave a favorable report to (S-437) allowing homeowners to rent their primary residence up to 72 days and maintain a 4% assessment ratio. The bill strikes existing language limiting this to 15 days.

The subcommittee adopted an amendment (H-3767) that I sponsored. The amendment will allow primary property owners to rent their residence up to 15 days a year and not declare it as income for tax purposes or pay accommodations taxes. This bill has previously passed the House and mirrors IRS code. It was amended to (S-437), because the Senate has not brought the bill up for a hearing.

The Subcommittee also approved (H-4520), known as Preston’s Law. Preston’s Law would allow a family member to own a 4% assessed property, in addition to their primary residence, to provide housing for an elderly family member. The legislation is aimed at keeping those South Carolinians who are 65 and older in homes and make it more affordable for their family members to care for them.

(S-437) and (H-4520) now move to the full Committee on Ways and Means for consideration.

I-20 Resurfacing Project
The resurfacing project of I-20 through a portion of Aiken County is underway. The pavement has deteriorated with rocks damaging many vehicles. By July we will have a smoother ride on the westbound lanes.

Election Reform
We approved legislation that would allow the state to oversee county election commissions that don’t follow the law. This comes in the wake of the debacle in Richland County in 2012 when poll workers knew the county didn’t send enough election machines to certain, very busy precincts. This will allow the state to step in and fix the problem – ensuring everyone has a chance to cast their vote in future elections.

Texting While Driving
The House approved a statewide ban on texting while driving. The penalty is the same as not wearing a seat belt, and we prevented the police from seizing your cell phone. The House Republicans believe that distracted driving is a serious problem, though we disagree about the best way to stop it. Because major cities such as Charleston, Mount Pleasant, and most recently Greenville, have approved texting bans, the need for a statewide regulation to trump local bans is gaining importance.

Game Zone Consolidation
The House amended and gave second reading approval to (S-1071), a bill providing for game zone consolidation which reduces the state’s current six game zones into four larger game zones in order to bring greater standardization and simplification to the laws governing the hunting of wild game in South Carolina. The legislation provides for the merger of the current Game Zone 6 into Game Zone 3 and the current Game Zone 5 into Game Zone 4 and makes various adjustments to hunting limitations.

Restrictions On Hunting Deer Near A Residence
The House returned (S-876) to the Senate with amendments. The legislation modifies the current prohibition on hunting deer within three hundred yards of a residence without the permission of the homeowner and occupant, by providing that this restriction does not apply when the hunter is elevated at least ten feet above the ground. The legislation provides that this prohibition applies to hunting deer with a firearm and expands the current exemption so that it applies not only to a landowner hunting on his own land, but also to a landowner’s guests or lessees hunting on the landowner’s property.

EMMA’S LAW Is Now A Law
The Senate approved the House’s bill and Emma’s Law was signed by Governor Haley. This bill is a critical step toward stopping the repeat DUI offenders that endanger all of us on the road.

BUDGET
The House approved two balanced budgets that prioritized education funding and our infrastructure needs. We have approved balanced budgets in every year that the Republicans have controlled the House. The 2014/15 House budget is currently in the Senate. We are awaiting their version to see how it differs from ours.

Please be sure to stay up to date with all that is going on in Columbia. If you have any questions, comments or concerns, I am always available. 

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Merry Christmas – Bill Hixon Legislative Update

 

The Magic of Christmas never ends and its greatest of gifts are of family and friends.

Merry  Christmas and Happy New Year!

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Governor Nikki Haley in North Augusta

July 19, 2011 – North Augusta, SC

Governor Nikki Haley visited North Augusta to sign a bill that was authored by freshman Representative Bill Hixon – District 83. There was a very good turnout from citizens, colleagues and press.

The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact was co-sponsored by over 30 colleagues on both sides of the isle. The bill calls for South Carolina to join the Interstate Wildlife Compact, which is like a drivers license compact. In the event you travel to another state and have a game or fishing violation, you will be treated as if you were in your home state; accept the citation from the officer and continue on your way. In the past, SC-DNR made a non-resident violator post bail on the spot or go to jail. This bill saves time and money for the game wardens. There is no cost for SC to join the Compact.

Below are links to photos, videos and articles.

The Story on the Aikenstandard.com web site.

View Photos of the event here.

Video of Nikki Haley at Hammonds Ferry signing ceremony.

 

Here is WAGT Channel 26 News Video

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Governor To Visit North Augusta

Dear Friends,

This is a reminder that the Governor will be in North Augusta tomorrow at 3:00pm. I hope to see you there.

SPECIAL ANOUNCMENT:
Governor Haley to Visit North Augusta:
Tuesday the 19th of July at 3:00pm, Governor Nikki Haley will come to the park at Hammonds Ferry for a bill signing ceremony. She is signing a bill that I authored this past Legislative Session. I am very happy and honored to welcome our Governor to North Augusta. The Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact was co-sponsored by over 30 colleagues on both sides of the isle. The bill calls for South Carolina to join the Interstate Wildlife Compact, which is like a drivers license compact. In the event you travel to another state and have a game or fishing violation, you will be treated as if you were in your home state; accept the citation from the officer and continue on your way. In the past, SC-DNR made a non-resident violator post bail on the spot or go to jail. This bill saves time and money for the game wardens. There is no cost for SC to join the Compact.
 
Below is a list of details about the Compact:

  • Assures non-residents from member states the same treatment as a resident for certain violations.
  • Convenient service for sportsman.
  • Increases the efficiency of Conservation Officers by allowing more time for enforcement duties rather than processing procedures.
  • Poachers are held more responsible for their illegal activities.  It can affect their privileges in all member states.
  • Fish and wildlife lawbreakers cannot escape consequences just by crossing a state line.
  • Reciprocal recognition of license suspension by member states.
  • Parallels the driver's license compact.
  • No additional cost for personnel or equipment to participate in the compact.
  • There are no background checks associated with the IWVC.
  • Revocations have been shown to be a great deterrent to would-be wildlife law violators. 
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Haley to visit N.A. to sign first bill by Hixon – northaugustastar.com

Below is an article that was published by the North Augusta Star Newspaper. It was on the front page of the printed version that hit the streets this week. You can see the original article at northaugustastar.com

Haley to visit N.A. to sign first bill by Hixon

In his capacity on the S.C. House natural resources committee, North Augusta's Rep. Bill Hixon saw a need and an easy fix. Now, Gov. Nikki Haley is scheduled to come to North Augusta next Tuesday at 3 p.m. to formally sign Hixon's first successful bill into law.

Hixon explained that South Carolina was one of only a few states that are not part of an Interstate Wildlife Compact – a reciprocal agreement among states that makes life easier for fishermen and hunters if they find themselves in violation of a law somewhere other than their home state. But that's now about to change.

He said some friends of his from Augusta were canoeing in the Savannah River when they were stopped by an officer with S.C. Department of Natural Resources and cited for not having enough life jackets with them. By South Carolina law, out-of-state violators are required to post bond immediately, or they go to jail. If a hunter is a resident of the state, he can get a ticket, go home and pay it later – just like a moving violation. 

"But if you're in another state, and, say, you have too many fish – or not enough life jackets – you have to pay right then," Hixon said, "or the officer has to take you to jail, and you have to be processed … fingerprinted … the works."

Hixon presented his solution to the problem for hunters and fishermen, and both the S.C. House and Senate agreed with him. As a result, Hixon is the first freshman member of the General Assembly this year to get a bill passed through by both houses and signed by the Governor. 

He noted that most of the other states have signed the Interstate Wildlife Compact already. With that agreement in place, a hunter or fisherman can go to another state knowing that if he inadvertently violates a local law related to game, he will be treated like a resident of that state. And if the violator doesn't pay his fine at the appointed time or doesn't return for a hearing date, according to the Interstate Wildlife Compact his hunting and fishing privileges will be suspended in South Carolina until he's paid his fine where the violation occurred. (The same would be true for a Georgia fisherman cited in South Carolina, for example.)

"I'm going to Montana (this fall), and I only carry so much cash," he laughed. The new agreement will mean Hixon, along with other S.C. hunters, doesn't have to worry about going to jail because he can't post bond for a minor violation.

The bill to join the Interstate Wildlife Compact "breezed" through the S.C. House and Senate and was signed by the governor, according to Hixon, who has received praise for what he calls common sense. "I saw a need which was brought to our committee, I studied it and got it through," he said proudly. "It just made sense."

Hixon noted that the Compact will make life easier not just for the fisherman, but for game wardens everywhere, as well. He argued that when someone is cited the way his friends were, the game officers don't want to take the time to arrest someone and take them to jail and have to go through all that is involved in any arrest. (He was quick to point out the Compact doesn't have any effect on the treatment of more serious crimes, like BUI (boating under the influence).

He pointed out the Compact is particularly important in areas like the CSRA where the river is shared by two states, and boaters don't always know who has jurisdiction. 

"The river means a lot to us," he said, and as a result, when Gov. Haley offered to come to North Augusta to sign the bill, Hixon immediately suggested doing it on the Savannah River. "I wanted a picture with my first bill, so we're going to do this at Boeckh Park (in Hammond's Ferry) on the Savannah," he said,

And Haley planned the trip so as not to interfere with the visit from Michele Bachmann, slated for 2 p.m. in Aiken next Tuesday. "We changed (the signing) to 3 p.m. so folks could get to both," said Hixon.

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Dr. Gary C. Redding Recognized by SC House.

Dr. Gary C. Redding Recognized by SC House.
March 3, 2011 – Columbia, SC

On March 3, 2011, Dr. Gary C. Redding, Senior Pastor of First Baptist Church of North Augusta was recognized by the South Carolina House of Representatives with a House Resolution. The occasion was to recognize his retirement and commend him for 22 years of service to his congregation, his community and his God. Reps. Hixon, J. R. Smith, Taylor and Young: Introduced the Resolution: H. 3781 The Resolution passed.

Below is the complete text of the resolution and will be forwarded to Dr. Redding.


A HOUSE RESOLUTION

TO RECOGNIZE AND HONOR DR. GARY C. REDDING, SENIOR PASTOR OF FIRST BAPTIST CHURCH OF NORTH AUGUSTA, UPON THE OCCASION OF HIS RETIREMENT, AND TO COMMEND HIM FOR TWENTY-TWO YEARS OF SELFLESS SERVICE TO HIS CONGREGATION, HIS COMMUNITY, AND HIS GOD.

Whereas, the members of the South Carolina House of Representatives are pleased to learn that Dr. Gary C. Redding will begin a well-deserved retirement from full-time pastoral ministry on March 31, 2011; and

Whereas, having previously served other churches as senior pastor, Dr. Redding became pastor of First Baptist Church of North Augusta in 1989; and

Whereas, in the church's history, he is the longest-serving pastor, and he has served First Baptist Church of North Augusta longer than any other church in his own ministry; and

Whereas, the church has experienced multiple expansions under his ministry, such as the addition of a three thousand-seat worship center in 1998, the Children's Learning Center in 2009, new office space, and a youth worship area; and

Whereas, Dr. Redding has led the church in emphasizing overseas missions by sending hundreds of church members to minister as far away as South America, Africa, Asia, and Canada; and

Whereas, under his leadership, the church has focused intentional ministry on children, with over two thousand children having participated in the church's weekday education programs, over ten thousand having been involved in Vacation Bible School, and fifteen thousand middle-school children having engaged in wholesome Friday night activities at the church; and

Whereas, he has encouraged the church to have a practical awareness of the problem of homelessness so that the church has provided over a thousand homeless individuals meals at Thanksgiving and Christmas; and

Whereas, on a weekly basis, he has ministered to businessmen in the community with meetings he began in 1989, Business by the Book, where business leaders gather for lunch and messages to inspire them to put biblical principles into practice in the workplace; and

Whereas, the members of the South Carolina House of Representatives are grateful for the legacy of ministry that Dr. Gary C. Redding has given to our State and wish him continued happiness and success in his retirement. Now, therefore,

Be it resolved by the House of Representatives:

That the members of the South Carolina House of Representatives, by this resolution, recognize and honor Dr. Gary C. Redding, senior pastor of First Baptist Church of North Augusta, upon the occasion of his retirement, and commend him for twenty-two years of selfless service to his congregation, his community, and his God.

Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution be provided to Dr. Gary C. Redding.

 

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Commander of American Legion

ADDRESS BY THE NATIONAL COMMANDER OF THE AMERICAN LEGION

On Tuesday March 1, 2011, we were joined by our Senate Colleagues in the house chamber to listen to the remarks of the National Commander of the American Legion. The Honorable Jimmie Foster was introduced and spoke to us about veterans issues. At the beginning of his speech he mentioned how delighted he was with the proposed bill to honor vets in South Carolina. This is the bill that I Brought to the floor and is heavily co-sponsored by my colleagues. It is good to know that other vets appreciate simple things we as citizens and lawmakers can do. This should have been done a long time ago. Below is his remarks about the bill and the complete speech.

 

"Ladies and gentlemen of this great body, symbols matter. And that is why I was delighted to learn that this Legislature is considering a law that would allow for the inclusion of one's military veteran status on South Carolina drivers licenses. States already do this for organ donors. We call organ donations "the gift of life" and that is exactly what these transplants provide for countless people. But veterans also provide the gift of life – The American way of life. History indicates that without the sacrifices made by our veterans, America would probably be living under fascist, communist or some other totalitarian rule."

Jimmie Foster – National Commander of the American Legion

 

Below is the complete speech from Jimmie Foster as given on March 1, 2011 to a joint session.
Greetings, Lt. Governor Ard. Thank you for that wonderful introduction……I do appreciate your kind words. I'm glad to be here and I thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today. Before I begin, please allow me to take a moment to introduce members of The American Legion family who are with me today.
 

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