End of the legislative session

After casting over 800 votes, the regular session of the legislature ended last Thursday.

Importantly, several bills of local significance passed last week and head to Gov. McMaster’s desk for his signature.

On Wednesday, a bill I cosponsored to fix the Horry-Georgetown County border error passed.

For many years, Horry and Georgetown counties have recognized a border that differs from the official border as enacted in statute. As a result, about 200 parcels of land, long believed to be in Horry County, are actually in Georgetown County, raising potential issues concerning property taxes, school attendance and voting.

The bill gives Gov. McMaster the authority to call for a referendum in the affected area to allow voters to decide as to whether they wish to stay residents of Horry County or officially become part of Georgetown County.

A bill I supported to protect red drum from overfishing passed. This fishery is very important to our recreational and charter fishermen.

A recent SC Dept. of Natural Resources stock assessment of red drum determined the stock is overfished and that current landings are unsustainable. The bill reduces the daily bag limit from three per person to two per person and institutes a boat limit of six fish per day. The current size slot limit of 15 to 23 inches for red drum would remain the same.

From a statewide perspective, a bill passed this week to place a constitutional amendment question on the ballot in November that asks voters if they approve of granting the governor the authority to appoint the state superintendent of education instead of keeping it as an elected position. If voters approve, the final election for the position will be this year.

While the legislative session has ended, there is still unfinished legislative business, so there will be special legislative sessions on May 24-25 and June 27-28 to deal with legislation related to the failed VC Summer nuclear reactor project and to finalize the budget respectively.

I’m thankful for the opportunity to represent District 108. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Rep. Lee Hewitt

Please click here to donate to my reelection campaign.


One week left

I wanted you to know that there is just one week left in the legislative session.

Last week, the House took a major step to make our public schools safer by making it easier to hire school resource officers. There are currently 590 public schools in the state that don’t employ a school resource officer.

Many retired law enforcement officers have expressed interest in using their previous training to work as a school resource officer. However, current state law caps salaries of retired state employees at $10,000 a year. To fix this problem, the House lifted the $10,000 cap so retired state workers can apply for the many open school resource officer positions.

A bill I cosponsored to increase the transparency of homeowners associations, the S.C. Homeowners Association Act, passed both the House and Senate and awaits Gov. McMaster’s signature.

The bill provides for the recording of the governing HOA documents with the Register of Deeds or Clerk of Court, notice to homeowners when there is any increase in the annual budget, notice on the seller’s property disclosure statement that the property is governed by an HOA, and allows magistrates concurrent jurisdiction to handle monetary disputes. The bill also creates a Homeowners Association Ombudsman within the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs. This legislation would implement consistent guidelines that encourage good governance among HOAs and protect homeowners' interests.

Last week, the House voted to place a constitutional question on the ballot that asks voters if they approve of granting the governor the authority to appoint the state superintendent of education instead of keeping it as an elected position. If voters approve, the final election for the position will be in 2018 with the governor having the power to appoint the position after the conclusion of that four-year term.

It’s an honor to serve the district. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Rep. Lee Hewitt

Please click here to donate to my reelection campaign.


Awaiting Gov. McMaster's signature

My bill for fixing the process for determining beachfront jurisdictional lines has now passed the House and Senate and heads to Gov. McMaster’s desk for his signature.

My thanks to all who helped pass this important bill that affects over 20,000 beachfront property owners.

The House and Gov. McMaster continue to work to eliminated the SCE&G nuclear surcharge on ratepayers for the V.C. Summer reactor spending disaster. Last week, the House voted to not concur with a Senate bill that would not eliminate the full nuclear surcharge. I’m hopeful a joint conference committee will be able to negotiate an acceptable resolution for utility ratepayers.

There are just two weeks left in the legislative session. The House will take up the final draft of the budget this week and vote on $26 million in additional funding for school resource officers and prison safety measures. Republicans are pushing for this funding to make our public schools safer for students and teachers and in response violence at our state prisons.

Just a reminder of the Keep the Majority fundraiser tomorrow, May 1st, 5:30-7:00 pm, at the Nelson Mullins Law Firm, located at 1320 Main Street, 17th Floor, in Columbia, which will benefit my reelection campaign. Special guests will be Speaker of the House Jay Lucas, Speaker Pro Tempore Tommy Pope, House Majority Leader Gary Simrill and other House leaders and committee chairs.

Suggested donation levels are Patron $1,000, Supporter $500 or Friend $250, but any amount would be helpful. Any amount you donate would benefit just my campaign. Please click here to donate.

Thank you in advance! Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Rep. Lee Hewitt


Constituent visits

It’s always great when constituents are able to come to Columbia and visit with me in the House. Last week I had a lot of visits.

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Thursday, it was my privilege to present the Waccamaw High School boys and girls cross country teams with a resolution passed by the House recognizing and honoring their state championships. The girls team has won the state championship two out of the last three years. This is the first state championship for the boys team. I was proud to have them at the State House and introduce them to my colleagues from the House well. The resolution also recognized the boys golf team state championship, but they were unable to attend due to a match.

Wednesday, it was great to meet with the Charleston Trident Association of REALTORS at the State House. I appreciate the work they do and their interest in state government.

Also, on Wednesday it was State House Day for Alzheimer’s Advocacy. It was my privilege to meet with advocates Lisa Phelan, Becky Thomason and Ashley DesMarteau, who are doing their part to make legislators aware of the plight of Alzheimer’s victims and caregivers.

This was crossover deadline week. Tuesday was the last chance to get bills out of committee and on to the House floor for a vote to meet the April 10th crossover deadline. Any legislation that clears either the House or Senate after April 10th requires a two-thirds majority vote to even be debated by the other body this year.

I wanted you to know that the legislation Rep. Russell Fry and I sponsored to fix the Horry-Georgetown County border error is in the Senate now. We’re hopeful a version of the bill supported by both counties and the House will ultimately be passed.

The border error affects about 200 parcels of land, long believed to be in Horry County, which are actually in Georgetown County, raising potential issues concerning property taxes, school attendance and voting.

Our bill calls for a referendum to be held in the affected area to allow voters to decide as to whether they wish to stay residents of Horry County or officially become part of Georgetown County.

I’m honored and privileged to serve District 108 in the House. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Rep. Lee Hewitt

Reelection campaign donations can be made by clicking here.


Unopposed

I wanted you to know that the filing period for office ended and I’m unopposed going into the November election. I’m so thankful for all of the supporters who made this possible!

The campaign is far from over. Work still needs to be done to ensure a good turnout in November and there is always the possibility of petition or write-in candidates. I’m going to continue reaching out to voters and listening to their concerns. I ask for your continued support and prayers as the reelection campaign moves forward.

The House was back in session last week after an Easter break.

Wednesday, the House overwhelmingly passed a Santee Cooper reform bill to protect ratepayers and prevent another failure like the V.C. Summer nuclear project from happening again. The legislation authorizes the governor to remove at-will all current Santee Cooper board members, shortens the board terms from seven years to four years and creates a nine-member committee to evaluate a sale of the utility.

I’m supportive of the bill, but as someone who represents a district served by Santee-Cooper, I’m concerned there are no requirements that any of the nine-member sale evaluation committee be from the Santee Cooper service area.

On Thursday a bill I cosponsored to protect red drum from overfishing and gigging passed the House. This fishery is very important to recreational and charter fishermen.

A recent SC Dept. of Natural Resources stock assessment of red drum determined the stock is overfished and that current landings are unsustainable. The bill reduces the daily bag limit from three per person to two per person, institutes a boat limit of six fish per day and prohibits gigging red drum. The current size slot limit of 15 to 23 inches remains the same.

Also, on Thursday the House passed legislation I cosponsored, H. 3896, giving counties the same authority as municipalities to put the owner of a public nuisance property on notice requiring clean up. If not corrected on a timely basis, the bill gives counties the authority to clean up the property and place a lien on it for the costs.

In February, the Georgetown County Council unanimously passed a resolution in support of the bill, citing problems with public nuisance properties in the county.

Thank you for the opportunity to serve District 108 in the House. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Rep. Lee Hewitt

Reelection campaign donations can be made by clicking here.


Legislative week: A border fix and legislation to combat opioid addiction

I wanted you to know that the legislation Rep. Russell Fry and I sponsored to fix the Horry-Georgetown County border error passed the House this week.

For many years, Horry and Georgetown counties have recognized a border that differs from the official border as enacted in statute. As a result, about 200 parcels of land, long believed to be in Horry County, are actually in Georgetown County, raising potential issues concerning property taxes, school attendance and voting.

If the bill is passed by the Senate and signed by Gov. McMaster, a referendum will be held in the affected area to allow voters to decide as to whether they wish to stay residents of Horry County or officially become part of Georgetown County.

On Monday, I had an opportunity to speak about this issue at the Georgetown County Republican Club meeting. Click here for the news coverage.

As a member of the House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee, I was pleased that a number of bills the committee created to address the opioid addiction epidemic passed the House this week. These bills do the following: increase accessibility to life-saving opioid overdose antidotes, create a prescription monitoring program that will keep track of information relating to opioid prescriptions, set limits for initial prescriptions of opioid prescriptions at five days for acute pain and 14 days for post-operative pain, and require tamper-resistant prescription pads to decrease counterfeit prescriptions being used to obtain opioids illegally.

On Tuesday it was my pleasure to spend time at the State House with the Coastal Carolina Association of REALTORS leadership class and class president Jamie Broadhurst. We had a good discussion about my beachfront jurisdictional line reform bill, which will be considered by the Senate Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee next week.

Next week, the House is furloughed for an Easter break.

One week from today is the end of the campaign finance reporting period. With the upcoming election, it’s important for my campaign to report as much money in the bank as possible.

Please help by donating to my campaign by March 31st. Please click here to donate. Your help is greatly appreciated!

It’s an honor to serve the district. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Rep. Lee Hewitt

P.S. Please donate by March 31st. Campaign donation checks can be mailed to Lee Hewitt for House, P.O. Box 928, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576 or please click here today to donate online. Thank you in advance for your support!


Officially filed

I wanted you to know that Friday I officially filed for reelection.

Serving in the state House is a real privilege and I’m hopeful district voters will send me back for another term. I’m very appreciative of the outpouring of support I’ve received and will continue working hard in Columbia representing the district.

Also on Friday, Rep. Russell Fry, R-Horry, and I announced legislation to fix a Horry-Georgetown County border error. For many years, Horry and Georgetown counties have recognized a border that differs from the official border as enacted in statute. As a result, about 200 parcels of land, long believed to be in Horry County, are actually in Georgetown County, raising potential issues concerning property taxes, school attendance and voting. The border error was recently discovered by the state Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office. Click here for news coverage.

The legislation, if passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. McMaster, will call for a referendum in the affected area to allow voters to decide as to whether they wish to stay residents of Horry County or officially become part of Georgetown County.

Passing a state budget bill consumed the entire House session last week. During the marathon session, I cast nearly 230 votes on the bill. The budget that passed the House is balanced and does not increase taxes.

I’m pleased the budget included nearly $20 million to our technical schools to train students for high-skill and well-paying jobs businesses are looking to fill, $60 million for teacher salary increases, new school buses, and opioid abuse prevention funding.

On Wednesday, after the House budget session was finished, I went over to the Senate and testified before the Environmental Subcommittee in support of my beachfront jurisdictional line reform bill. The subcommittee voted unanimously in favor of the bill, which will now go to the full Senate Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee.

And finally, I hate asking for money, but there is an upcoming election and the Democrats have made it a priority to contest all the elections this year. The best thing I can do is have a well-funded campaign, prepared to take on any challenger.

Please financially support my reelection campaign with a donation today by clicking here. Your financial support is needed and would be greatly appreciated.

It’s an honor to serve the district. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Rep. Lee Hewitt

P.S. Campaign donation checks can be mailed to Lee Hewitt for House, P.O. Box 928, Murrells Inlet, SC 29576 or please click here today to donate online. Thank you in advance for your support!


Fry and Hewitt to introduce Horry-Georgetown County border fix legislation

MURRELLS INLET – State Representatives Russell Fry, R-Horry and Lee Hewitt, R-Georgetown, Friday announced they will be introducing legislation calling for a referendum to address a recently discovered error in the border between Horry and Georgetown counties.

For many years, Horry and Georgetown counties have recognized a border that differs from the official border as enacted in statute. As a result, at least 199 parcels of land, long believed to be in Horry County, are actually in Georgetown County, raising potential issues concerning property taxes, school attendance and voting. The border error was recently discovered by the state Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office.

Click here for a map of the borders.

Fry and Hewitt will introduce legislation next week that, if passed by the General Assembly and signed by Gov. McMaster, will call for a referendum in the affected area to allow voters to decide as to whether they wish to stay residents of Horry County or officially become part of Georgetown County.

Click here for the legislation.

“Many of these residents have been residents of what they were told is Horry County for decades and have done nothing wrong,” said Russell Fry. “Their lives should not be turned upside-down because of this error. We will be immediately introducing legislation that will allow registered voters in the affected area to vote to stay residents of Horry County if they so choose.”

“It’s unfortunate this border error has occurred and that many residents and property owners are caught up in this through no fault of their own,” Lee Hewitt said. “This legislation Russell and I are introducing is the best and most equitable way to resolve the issue.”


A 98-0 vote

I wanted you to know that my bill, H. 4683, for fixing the process for determining beachfront jurisdictional lines passed the House Thursday on a 98-0 vote.

Where these lines are drawn impacts first, and in many cases, second row properties regarding the structures that can be built or rebuilt. Most of the 20,000 beachfront property owners were not aware of the line review last year until it was almost too late to comment or appeal.

The bill now moves to the Senate Agricultural and Natural Resources Committee, where it's set for a hearing next Wednesday.

On Wednesday the House continued to stand with utility ratepayers by voting 107-1 to amend a Senate bill to stop SCE&G from billing customers for any of the costs of the failed VC Summer nuclear reactor project, which amounts to $37 million per month.

The House is frustrated by the Senate's inaction in stopping ratepayers from being charged for the project. The only bill the Senate has passed is a resolution to extend the deadline to review the proposed Old Dominion-SCE&G merger. I joined House Speaker Jay Lucas at his news conference Wednesday, where he cited the package of ratepayer protection bills the House has already passed and called on the Senate to take action to protect ratepayers.

Thursday, I welcomed members of the Georgetown County School Board and Superintendent Randy Dozier to the House chambers. I appreciate the hard work and dedication of our teachers, administrators and school board.

On Monday it was my privilege to present McClellanville Mayor Rut Leland with a House Resolution recognizing and honoring his leadership and dedicated service as one of the longest serving mayors (over 41 years) in state history. I'm proud that Mayor Leland is a constituent and appreciate the outstanding job he does for the town and coastal area.

Next week the House starts the challenging process of considering the state budget. It will likely result in hundreds of votes and sessions that go through the night. I'm committed to finding ways in the budget to save taxpayers money.

I'm thankful for the privilege of serving District 108 in the House! Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Rep. Lee Hewitt

P.S. I'll be filing for reelection next week and the election is just around the corner. Please help me win reelection by clicking here today and donating to my reelection campaign. I really need your help. Thank you in advance!


Flaws in our government

I think you would agree that efficiency and accountability are qualities we all want in state government.

One of the things that being in the state House has made very clear to me is that our state government is very lacking in both. Our antiquated 1895 state constitution gives most of the power to a handful of senior legislators, which means these legislators are effectively in charge of our government. In South Carolina, the legislature, judiciary and office of governor are not co-equal branches of government.

Last week I joined with a bipartisan group of 26 freshmen legislators, House and Senate, to fix our state constitution by introducing legislation, H. 5043, to hold a referendum for state citizens to call for a constitutional convention so the constitution can be rewritten to fix the structural flaws in our government. Click here for news coverage.

The Agricultural, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee I serve on met every day last week to consider bills. One important to our area is a bill to protect red drum from overfishing and gigging. This fishery is very important to recreational and charter fishermen.

A recent SC Dept. of Natural Resources stock assessment of red drum determined the stock is overfished and that current landings are unsustainable. The committee approved a bill that reduced the daily bag limit from three per person to two per person, instituted a boat limit of six fish per day and prohibited gigging red drum. The current size slot limit of 15 to 23 inches for red drum would remain the same.

The committee approved another bill that's important to the coast, one that gives sheriffs, in addition to SCDNR, enforcement authority over the abandonment of boats in our waters, which is illegal. The abandonment of boats can present very real safety, navigation and environmental issues, in addition to the unsightliness of a boat hulk in a saltmarsh or on a river bank.

Saturday, I presented a General Assembly Resolution to the family of Midway Fire Battalion Chief Josh Carney, who passed away last year at the age of 41, recognizing and honoring his 18 years of service and leadership to the department. Josh is a real hero and my sympathies are with his wife Lillian and daughter Shayla in their terrible loss.

I'm thankful for the honor of serving District 108 in the House! Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Rep. Lee Hewitt

P.S. I'll be filing for reelection in two weeks and the election is just around the corner. Please help me win reelection by clicking here today and donating to my reelection campaign. I really need your help. Thank you in advance!