Dear Friends,

In this edition of my legislative update I want to let you know that I am announcing that I plan to run for re-election for House District 83. I want to thank those that have been supporting me and I hope that I can continue to receive your support for my campaign in 2012.

Last week was real busy. Myself and several of the House Republican members met with the Governor for lunch and discussed the upcoming bills about the Reform of the Dept. of Transportation and the Department of Administration Senate bill that will do away with the budget and control board as we know it today.

I met with Col. Alvin Taylor of the Wildlife Department, who will soon be the Director of the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), about forming a boating compact with the State of Georgia. We are now in the beginning stages of drawing up this compact. The State lines of GA and SC are defined by water. Since we share so much water resources, we should be able to communicate and have reciprocal laws and regulations. This compact will be very similar to the Interstate Wildlife Violator Compact that I authored and was signed into law last year.

I had the privilege to tour North Augusta Middle School and Paul Knox Middle School with Aiken County Board of Education member Ray Flemming of District 5 last week. I learned a lot and thoroughly enjoyed meeting everyone.

Check out this article in the North Augusta Star. They interviewed me last week about the Synthetic Marijuana And Other Synthetic Drugs bill that passed the house and is currently in the Senate.

I hope that you find this update helpful and informative:

 Legislative Update   –  March 6, 2012

Ryberg Announces Retirement:
First elected in 1992, Ryberg has held the District 24 Senate Seat for 20 years. District 24 covers most of Aiken County. Ryberg promised his constituents he would take a business perspective with him to the Capitol in Columbia. Now, two decades later, he said he can leave the Capitol with those principles intact and with a deep appreciation for the confidence the voters of Aiken and North Augusta placed in him. 
Ryberg was quoted by the Aiken Standard: "Every day, I started the day knowing I work for them. It has been a reward to have 20 years of service. The next 20 I'm going to spend with my wife and family," he said. 
Representative Tom Young To Run For Ryberg's Senate Seat:
Tom Young Annouced Saturday that he will seek election to the S.C. Senate District 24 seat of Greg Ryberg.
You can read his announcement Here 
Chairman of SC House Judiciary Committee Retiring:
Rep. Jim Harrison announced last Thursday he is leaving the seat he's held since 1989. The Columbia Republican says it's time for someone else to serve and bring a new perspective. The 60-year-old attorney says he will miss the House but wants to concentrate on practicing law for a few years before retiring.
Harrison has been Chairman of the House Judiciary Committee since 1994, the year Republicans took control of the chamber. He took the position from Democrat Jim Hodges, who later became governor. 
Senate and House Overturn Dredging Veto:
A resolution that passed both the House and Senate earlier this month was promptly vetoed by Gov. Haley. Both the House and Senate voted to overturn the veto. The resolution stated that the DHEC's board overstepped its authority when it granted Georgia permission that helped clear the way for an expansion project at the Savannah port. This port competes with the Charleston port. DHEC violated an existing state law by approving the permit without the approval of the South Carolina's Savannah River Maritime Commission. 
Conservative Budget Headed to the House Floor:
In the last few weeks, the House Ways and Means Committee held public meetings and approved the 2012-2013 State Appropriations Bill. This balanced budget, which falls within the guidelines of the House's legislation to cap spending, is now headed to the House floor. Debate is set for March 13th
This year's state budget focuses on core functions of government;  education, infrastructure and law enforcement –  all of which are vital to our state's growing economy.
The budget totals $6 billion in General Fund appropriations and includes:

  • $180 million set in reserve to fully pay for South Carolina's share of deepening the Port of Charleston
  • $152 million in additional funds for K-12 education that will make it to the classrooms for teacher salary increases. This will bring base student cost to pre-recession levels.
  • $24 million to train workers through the readySC program provided by our Technical Colleges and an additional $10 million towards the Dept. of Commerce's closing fund
  • Nearly $400 million to fully fund our state's reserve accounts
  • $47 million to State Unemployment Tax (SUTA) relief, which will lower the average tax per employee for businesses

SEXTING Bill Heads To The House For Vote:
Legislation(H-3130) called the Teen Sexting bill cleared a committee hurdle last week and will probably be sent to the House for a vote this week. The bill is designed to prevent sexting by teens 16 and under by fining them $100. If the person who recieves the text and forwards it, they could be fined as well.
Drop Out Bill Heads To The Senate Floor:
The Drop Out Bill was sponsored by Rep. Tom Young of Aiken. Below is information form his site about the bill. I voted for this bill. 
The Senate Education Committee unanimously voted to send this bill (H-3164) to the full Senate for a vote. The bill prohibits possession of a driver's license until age 18 unless the young person is enrolled in, or has completed, high school. The bill contains a hardship provision for some limited exceptions including  
(1) where the young person has to go to work to support himself or his immediate family or  
(2) where he or she joins the military at age 17.
Numerous reports show that high school dropouts in general increase the costs to taxpayers in areas such as crime, teenage pregnancy, infant mortality, health problems, juvenile delinquency, and single parent families living in poverty. Georgia and North Carolina have similar laws. 
"BENJI'S LAW" Heads To Governors Desk:
The House approved "Benji's Law" This bill (S-929) will set new standards for miniature train rides following last year's crash in Spartanburg that killed a 6-year-old boy and injured 28 others.
We are expected to resume debate on Unemployment reform this week. Bill (H-4043) would allow prospective employers to submit failed certified drug tests results to the South Carolina Department of Workforce (DEW) to be used as the basis for disqualification of unemployment benefits.  This legislation is needed because any prospective employee who fails a drug test, should not be allowed to continue to draw unemployment benefits. I am a sponsor of this bill.


Blue Alert Signed by Governor:
The "Blue Alert" system will promptly inform police agencies and residents when an officer is seriously injured, killed or kidnapped in the line of duty. The system would be modeled after "AMBER Alerts" in which the public is told about missing children through electronic message boards, emails and text messages. I am a co-sponsor of this bill and very glad it has become law. The bill has already been signed however, there will be a ceremonial signing at the State House, Tuesday at 2:30pm. 
Home Based Food Production:
The House passed (H-4689) which would reduce stringent regulations and allow 'Grandma' to continue to prepare foods for sale as long as it is a small operation. The Bill has been sent to the Senate.   
Equine Liability Immunity Act Clears Senate Committee:
The House amended, approved, and sent to the Senate (H-4475) a bill to provide that Trail Riding is included Under Equine Liability Immunity Provisions which afford an equine activity sponsor or an equine professional immunity from certain legal liable for an injury to or the death of a participant resulting from an inherent risk of equine activities, such as steeplechases, rodeos, polo matches, hunter and jumper horse shows, and equestrian competitions. I am a co-sponsor of this bill.


North Augusta Football On TV For The First Time:
The North Augusta High School Yellow Jackets will face Valdosta in the National Football Challenge Sept. 1 near Atlanta. This is an annual event held at North Gwinnett High School in Suwanee, Ga. and regional cable channel Comcast/Charter Sports Southeast has broadcasted its games in the past. 1,000 tickets will be made available to Yellow Jackets fans at a cost of $10 each.  

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.

You can view Live Broadcasts of the South Carolina House of Representatives daily legislative sessions by clicking Here

Go to the new House Roll Call Votes Page to see how all the representatives have voted on all the important bills.


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 don't hesitate to contact me at Home – 803-278-0892 or at work 803-279-8855.


Bill Hixon