First week

I wanted to let you know about this first week of the new legislative session in Columbia.

We had an unusual start: voting on about 40 vetoes issued by Gov. McMaster back in June. Usually, the legislature deals with vetoes in the same session in which they are issued, but the House and Senate leadership decided to wait in this case.

While I voted to sustain most of the governor’s vetoes, I voted to override his vetoes of $20.5 million for new school buses. I couldn’t support his vetoes of the bus funding in light of the fire hazard of our aging bus fleet. According to a report in The State, “Seventeen buses have caught fire or dangerously overheated since August 2015…some with children aboard.” The problem has to be fixed.

On Tuesday, the House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee, which I was privileged to serve on, issued its final report and recommendations to House Speaker Jay Lucas and effectively introduced a number of bills to address the addiction epidemic. One of the bills is one I cosponsored, H. 4487, which would vastly expedite the regulation of synthetic opioids or “designer drugs” by SCDHEC.

For eight months, the committee held public hearings and working group meetings where we received in-depth testimony from several state agencies, healthcare providers, and families affected by opioid addiction. While there is no silver bullet to end the addiction problem, I believe our recommendations are a big step in the right direction.

On Wednesday, Gov. McMaster committed to ask the Trump administration to exempt our state from the Dept. of Interior’s offshore oil drilling plan, just as Florida was exempted. I applaud the governor’s stance. Offshore oil drilling is a huge threat to our coastal economy and environment and this plan would allow drilling as close as 3 miles to our beaches.

Click here for media coverage of my comments.

Also on Wednesday, I participated in a meeting of the S.C. Energy Caucus, a bipartisan group of legislators who are working to ensure our homes and businesses have access to affordable energy options and focusing on correcting institutional deficiencies that led to the V.C. Summer nuclear project spending disaster. The meeting focused on reform legislation and the need to better plan for our state’s future energy needs.

I hope this information is helpful.

It’s an honor to serve District 108! Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Rep. Lee Hewitt

P.S. I’m up for reelection this year, and according to this news report, county Democrats are committed to putting up challengers for all seats, including my House seat. I hate to ask for money, but my campaign needs to raise more money to help fend off challengers. Please help by clicking here today and donating the largest amount you can afford to my campaign. Thank you in advance!