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!


Keep our children safe

Recently I was made aware of concerns by Mt. Pleasant and law enforcement officials about attempted efforts by adults to lure children into cars or vans, sometimes using puppies as lures, and the inability to charge the person with a crime.

It's sickening to know there are people out there trying to take advantage of children to harm them.

Last week, Rep. Nancy Mace, R-Charleston, and I introduced a bill, H. 5006, to make child luring a crime and keep our children safe. Our bill is modeled after Florida's child luring law and has been referred to the House Committee on Judiciary.

Most of last week in the House was spent clearing the uncontested bill calendar and getting those bills to the House floor for a vote.

My beachfront jurisdiction line reform bill is now scheduled for debate on the House floor March 6th. In the meantime, I'm meeting with SCDHEC officials to iron out some details on the property owners' appeal process.

On Wednesday it was Myrtle Beach Night at the State House, and a good opportunity to meet with area leaders. I enjoyed speaking with Murph Fore, Horry-Georgetown Tech President; Brad Dean, Myrtle Beach Chamber Executive Director; Austin Beard, Georgetown County Council Vice-Chair; Don Smith, Coastal Carolina Association of Realtors President; and many others.

Myrtle Beach Night happened to coincide with the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism's announcement on Wednesday that tourism spending in SC grew to a record $21.2 billion. Tourism supports one in ten jobs in the state and generates more than $1.5 billion in state and local tax revenues. It's a vital industry to Georgetown and Charleston counties.

And finally, I attended the East Cooper Republican Club meeting in Mt. Pleasant on Monday. It was a great opportunity to meet and talk with Charleston County constituents and hear from the GOP gubernatorial candidates.

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'm up for reelection this year. Please donate to my reelection campaign today by clicking here and make the largest donation that you can afford. I really need your help. Thank you in advance!


WMBF News: Proposed bill would add misdemeanor charge for luring

COLUMBIA, SC -- A new bill in South Carolina could make luring or enticing a child to get into a car or a building against the law.

The proposed legislation, called the Anti-Luring Bill, was first introduced in the State House Thursday by District 108 State Rep. Lee Hewitt.

According to the bill, luring a child into a conveyance, dwelling, or structure without the consent of the child or legal guardian will be prosecuted.

Screen_Shot_2018-02-24_at_11.31.50_AM.pngClick here for the WMBF video

The heart of the bill is to stop a situation from getting much worse. The reason Lee wrote it is because of something that happened a month ago in Mount Pleasant with some of his constituents.

Lee said a family reached out to him for help after their kids were playing outside and a man approached them in a van and tried to entice them to get in by saying, "Come look at my dog." The children ultimately ran back to their house and the mother got the license plate for police.

"The problem was they could never charge him with anything because there wasn't a criminal act," Lee said. "Asking somebody to look at your dog isn't a criminal act, even though what could have happened if they got in the van could have been."

Lee's bill would give law enforcement more discretion.

"That when you have someone going around, trying to lure kids in the car by offering candy or something that is not criminal, it gives them the ability to charge that individual," he said.

The first offense would be a misdemeanor. If multiple offenses occur, the person could face a felony.

"As someone who has raised kids, I couldn't imagine if something happened to one of my kids," Lee said. "So if something like this can prevent a bad situation with children, hopefully we can get it done."

One mother in Carolina Forest is thankful to see the new bill, as the situation hits close to home.

Last August, Dr. Barb Horn's 10-year-old son was playing outside with his friend when a group of men told the boys to get inside their car.

Neighbors found the car and told police, but Horn said ultimately no charges were filed.

"Not only did we have to plea, the whole community had to become outraged, and had to make something happen and we said we wouldn't stand for it," Horn said. "Something was done and this type of bill can actually help next time something happens. Hopefully it doesn't, but people will have protection against this. If they feel they can't fully commit to kidnapping as a crime or attempted kidnapping, this gives them the option of luring and it's absolutely needed."

Horn said she hopes no one has to live through what she endured. She does think the bill should apply to others, and not just those 18 years of age or older.

"If you are old enough to drive a car and old enough to make a poor decision to try to lure a child into your car, then you should face the consequences as well, no matter what age," Horn said.

Lee said he received a lot of support from fellow legislators and law enforcement, who have heard of similar instances across the state.

Fifteenth Judicial Circuit Solicitor Jimmy Richardson said he fully supports the Anti-Luring Bill and thinks it's a strong piece of legislation.

The judiciary committee will review the bill next.


Rep. Hewitt introduces bill to make child luring a crime

On Thursday, Reps. Lee Hewitt and Nancy Mace, R-Charleston, introduced a bill, H. 5006, to make child luring a crime. The legislation is in response to concerns from Mt. Pleasant and law enforcement officials about attempted efforts by adults to lure children into cars or vans, sometimes using puppies as lures, and the inability to charge the person with a crime. The bill is modeled after Florida's child luring law.

Hewitt-Mace_copy.jpgReps. Nancy Mace and Lee Hewitt with the bill they filed to make child luring a crime in South Carolina. 


One-on-one committee work

I wanted you to know that after a lot of one-on-one work with my fellow committee members, my bill, H. 4683, for fixing the process for determining beachfront jurisdictional lines was passed out of the Agricultural, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee last week.

SCDHEC is required by law to review these lines every 7 to 10 years based on the average annual erosion rates for all beachfront land and they impact first, and in many cases, second row properties regarding the structures that can be built or rebuilt according to where these lines are established. 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 was amended by the committee and will be debated on the House floor soon. It establishes the beachfront baseline at the 2012 location and mandates December 2023 as when new line review will begin. It improves property owner notification, expands the public comment period and allows owners one year from the date of line implementation to appeal.

Last week, the House overwhelmingly passed reform bills concerning the Public Service Commission and the Conservation Bank.

In response to the nuclear reactor spending disaster, we passed legislation Thursday to reform the Public Service Commission by a vote of 108-1. The legislation effectively fires the commission that approved the rate hikes to pay for the reactor project, strengthens ethical standards to limit outside utility influence, requires stricter questioning of parties by commissioners before making decisions and provides the ability to inspect utility construction sites.

On Wednesday, the House voted 107-3 to reform and reauthorize the state Conservation Bank, which purchases land conservation easements for landmark sites that merit preservation. The bill changes the way the Conservation Bank is governed and requires public access to easements that are purchased.

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'm up for reelection this year. Please donate to my reelection campaign today by clicking here and make the largest donation that you can afford. I really need your help. Thank you in advance!


One of the busiest weeks

I wanted you to know that last week's House session was one of the busiest, mostly because of committee work.

The Agricultural, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee I serve on or one of our subcommittees met every day in an effort to catch up on hearings for bills delayed by House floor debate over the last several weeks on bills related to the abandoned nuclear reactor spending disaster.

I'm pleased the bill I'm the lead cosponsor of, H. 4683, which would reform the process for determining beachfront jurisdictional lines and allow a much better notification and appeals process for property owners, is scheduled for a hearing this Tuesday, February 13th, at 2 pm before the Environmental Affairs Subcommittee on which I serve.

I'm especially pleased that House Speaker Jay Lucas has signed as a cosponsor of the bill, giving the bill his complete support.

Beyond Speaker Lucas' support, it's important the committee receive supportive comments from the public. I urge you to email comments to Committee Chairman Rep. David Hiott at DavidHiott@schouse.gov no later than noon on Tuesday. Thank you in advance!

Last week I cosponsored bipartisan legislation, H. 4896, that would oppose offshore oil and gas drilling and seismic testing off South Carolina. We cannot afford to risk harming our coastal economy and environment by effectively playing Russian roulette with oil rigs off our coast. Sooner or later our coast will catch a bullet in the form of a major oil spill disaster. The bill has been referred to the Agricultural, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee.

I'm disappointed a bill, H. 3529, to prohibit cities and counties from banning or regulating plastic bags or containers passed the House last week on a 73-41 vote. I think home rule is important for cities and counties - they should have the right to regulate plastic bags and containers if they so choose. Certainly, along the coast, plastics litter has presented not only a visual problem, but an environmental problem that threatens marine life.

On Thursday, it was my honor to introduce Georgetown County's Dr. Gerald Harmon as Doctor of the Day on the House floor. Dr. Harmon is a leader in medical care in our county, state and nation. He currently serves as Chairman of the American Medical Association.

It's an honor and privilege to serve District 108 in the House! Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Rep. Lee Hewitt

P.S. I'm up for reelection this year and Democrats say that have a candidate to run against me. Please donate to my reelection campaign today by clicking here and make the largest donation that you can afford. I really need your help. Thank you in advance!