House session update

I wanted you to know that the nuclear reactor spending disaster continued to dominate the House session last week.

By a 119-1 vote, the House passed the third utility ratepayer protection bill, which blocks SCE&G from continuing to charge ratepayers $37 million a month for the abandoned reactor project and allows the Public Service Commission to strike down some previous SCE&G rate hikes for the project.

I remain committed to not only protecting SCE&G ratepayers, but also those of state-owned Santee-Cooper.

I spent some time this week with my House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee Chairman Rep. David Hiott, R-Pickens, preparing for a subcommittee hearing on the beachfront jurisdictional line legislation I introduced two weeks ago.

H. 4683 would reform the process for determining beachfront jurisdictional lines and allow a much better notification and appeals process for property owners. I'm appreciative the bill got referred to a committee and subcommittee on which I serve. I'm hopeful the Environmental Affairs Subcommittee hearing on the bill will be in two weeks.

On Thursday, I was pleased to introduce a Resolution that unanimously passed the House recognizing McClellanville Mayor Rut Leland for his leadership and dedicated service as one of the longest serving mayors (over 41 years) in state history. Last year, I was honored to be with Mayor Leland and his wife Kathy at the unveiling of his portrait at town hall. I'm proud Mayor Leland is a constituent of mine and appreciate the outstanding job he does for the town and coastal area.

On Friday, I attended the Grand Strand Area Transportation Study Policy Committee meeting in Surfside Beach. GSATS is the regional transportation planning agency for our area and I'm pleased to serve on the committee. We heard a presentation from SCDOT on the additional revenue from the gas tax increase and how it can be applied to GSAT's list of road projects. I'm hopeful we'll start seeing results from the extra tax revenue soon.

I'm thankful for the opportunity to serve in the House! Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Rep. Lee Hewitt

P.S. Please consider donating to my reelection campaign. With the election this year, I could sure use your help. Please click here today and make the largest donation that you can afford. Thank you in advance!


Third week of the House session

Last week was rough. I got the flu, but as fate would have it, the threat of bad weather in Columbia caused most activities in the House to be cancelled, so I didn't miss any votes.

Thankfully, I'm much better this week and wanted to let you know about this third week of the House session.

On Wednesday, as the lead cosponsor, I introduced legislation, H. 4683, that will reform the process for determining the beachfront jurisdictional lines and allow a much better notification and appeals process for property owners. These lines 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.

The current law created a crisis last year when many beachfront property owners were unaware of proposed line changes and we worked with SCDHEC to delay implementation. I'm pleased that all of the Horry and Georgetown County House members have signed on as cosponsors. I've been working with Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, on this legislation and he introduced the same bill in the Senate.

Also, on Wednesday I attended Gov. McMaster's State of the State address. I appreciate the Governor's strong message of support for tax cuts, investment in workforce development, school district consolidation to save taxpayers' money, stopping the opioid addiction epidemic and his strong stance against offshore oil drilling off our coast.

Regarding the V.C. Summer nuclear reactor spending disaster, Gov. McMaster said in his address to send him a bill that "prevents ratepayers from being charged in the future for the abandoned reactors." I agree with the Governor and the House passed two bills this week that draw upon the work of the House Utility Ratepayer Protection Committee, which is developing a legislative package of bills to protect ratepayers and prevent another utility spending disaster.

One bill, H.4378, replaces the Public Utilities Review Committee with a new twelve-member Utility Oversight Committee, which is charged with screening Public Service Commission candidates, among other duties. The other bill, H. 4379, creates a Utilities Consumer Advocate within the Attorney General's Office to safeguard the interests of consumers in dealings with public utilities.

Both bills prohibit any member of the Utility Oversight Committee or the Consumer Advocate from accepting anything of value or campaign contributions from utilities.

I hope this weekly update is helpful. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Rep. Lee Hewitt

P.S. I can't emphasize enough the need for my campaign to raise more money. According to reports, it's very likely a Democrat will run against me in the election this year. Please help by clicking here today and donating the largest amount you can afford to my campaign. Thank you in advance!


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!


New Year

I hope you had a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year and have fared the ice and snow safely.

Another session of the General Assembly starts Tuesday and I’ll be making my weekly treks to Columbia for the next six months.

It’s a privilege to represent the citizens of District 108 in the House and I look forward to the session as I believe there is much to accomplish.

I’m working on legislation to change the process for how the beachfront jurisdictional lines are determined. These lines determine whether structures can be built or rebuilt according to where the lines are established and, in many cases, affect even second row properties.

Many property owners were unaware of proposed beachfront line changes last year and we were able to successfully get SCDHEC to delay line changes until the legislature had a chance to consider the issue.

I’m committed to cosponsoring bipartisan legislation with Rep. Russell Ott, D-Calhoun, 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.

Last Wednesday, I was in Columbia for a House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee meeting, where we finalized our recommendations for combating the opioid addiction epidemic. While there is no silver bullet to end the addiction problem, I believe our recommendations are a big step in the right direction.

One of the committee recommendations is to pass a bill I have cosponsored and pre-filed, H. 4487, that would vastly expedite the regulation of synthetic opioids or “designer drugs” by SCDHEC.

Currently, when a new unregulated synthetic opioid shows up on the market it takes at least four weeks to be able to list it as a controlled substance. My bill would allow the SCDHEC Director to immediately list it, allowing law enforcement to immediately crack down on its sale.

One of the biggest issues is the failed V.C. Summer nuclear reactor project involving SCANA and Santee-Cooper. In addition to supporting the protection of ratepayers in this spending disaster, I supported the House leadership in asking for a S.C. Law Enforcement Division investigation of SCANA.

On Wednesday I’ll participate 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 nuclear project spending disaster.

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

Rep. Lee Hewitt

P.S. I’m up for reelection this year. 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!


Rep. Lee Hewitt: More oil has been spilled from offshore drilling than exists off the Atlantic Coast

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Last week Rep. Lee Hewitt was in Columbia for the second meeting of the House Offshore Drilling Ad Hoc Committee.

In this committee video, Lee points out to drilling advocate Bonnie Loomis of the American Petroleum Institute that 5.1 billion barrels of oil have been spilled from offshore drilling, an amount that exceeds the estimate of oil off the Atlantic Coast.

The coast of S.C. cannot afford to risk harming its economy and environment by effectively playing Russian roulette with offshore oil rigs. Sooner or later the coast will catch a bullet in the form of a major oil spill disaster.


October legislative update

I wanted to make you aware of what has happened in the last month.

I’ve worked hard to extend the comment period on proposed updated beachfront jurisdictional lines from SCDHEC that will 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.

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. The comment period will end on Nov. 6th, but I’m seeking an extension because so many property owners are still unaware of the proposed changes. I’m pleased that Gov. McMaster is also calling for an extension of time. Click here for media coverage.

I was honored to host the freshman state House members (Republicans and Democrats) for a get together in Murrells Inlet over the Oct. 14-15 weekend. They stayed in the inlet and experienced our dining, fishing and golf. While all had a great time, there were meetings to discuss lessons learned from our first legislative session and plan for the upcoming session in January.

Last week I introduced a bill to the House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee that would vastly expedite the regulation of synthetic opioids or “designer drugs” by SCDHEC.

Rogue chemists slightly change the chemical structure of these synthetic opioids such that they circumvent drug laws. Currently, when a new unregulated synthetic opioid shows up on the market it takes SCDHEC at least two weeks to be able to list it as a controlled substance, while in the meantime it continues to be sold legally and subject to abuse. My bill would allow the SCDHEC Director to immediately list it as a controlled substance, allowing law enforcement to immediately crack down on its sale. Click here for committee video of the introduction.

Also last week I was in Columbia for the second meeting of the House Offshore Drilling Ad Hoc Committee. We heard from SCDNR, SCDHEC, Stop Offshore Drilling in the Atlantic (N. Litchfield’s Peg Howell), S.C. Small Business Chamber of Commerce and the American Petroleum Institute. I pointed out in this committee video that 5.1 billion barrels of oil have been spilled from offshore drilling, an amount that exceeds the estimate of oil off the Atlantic Coast.

We cannot afford to risk harming our 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.

It’s great to be able to serve the district in the House of Representatives. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.

Rep. Lee Hewitt


Rep. Hewitt introduces legislation to Opioid Abuse Prevention Committee to expedite regulation of synthetic ‘designer’ opioids

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A short video of Rep. Lee Hewitt's introduction last week of a bill to the House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee that would vastly expedite the regulation of synthetic opioids or “designer drugs” by SCDHEC.

Rogue chemists slightly change the chemical structure of these synthetic opioids such that they circumvent drug laws. Currently, when a new unregulated synthetic opioid shows up on the market it takes DHEC at least two weeks to be able to list it as a controlled substance, while in the meantime it continues to be sold legally and subject to abuse.

Lee's bill would allow the DHEC Director to immediately list it as a controlled substance, allowing law enforcement to immediately crack down on its sale. 

Click here for the bill.


COASTAL OBSERVER: DHEC rejects Hewitt’s call to delay new lines

By Charles Swenson
Coastal Observer

As the clock ticks down on the comment period for new lines that will expand state jurisdiction along portions of the Waccamaw Neck’s beachfront, state Rep. Lee Hewitt’s phone continues to ring.

“DHEC’s been calling me every day,” he said.

The Department of Health and Environmental Control announced revised jurisdictional lines on Oct. 6. The deadline for public comment is Nov. 6. A public hearing on the lines is scheduled for Wednesday in Myrtle Beach. By law, the new lines must take effect by Dec. 31. It’s all too fast, officials and property owners say.

“My biggest problem is they’re doing this with no notice,” Hewitt said.

He and state Sen. Stephen Goldfinch, last week asked the leaders of the House and Senate to delay implementation of the lines until after the General Assembly reconvenes in January. “Speaker Lucas is with me on this,” Hewitt said, referring to Rep. Jay Lucas.

…Hewitt said he was told Wednesday by DHEC officials that they won’t delay the process.

…Hewitt plans to press the legislature and the governor’s office to delay implementation.

…Hewitt would like the review process extended to a year. [Pawleys Island Mayor]
Otis agreed that would be sufficient time for property owners to understand the process and get the data if they want to challenge the lines.

Right now, Hewitt said, “people don’t even know enough to ask questions at the public hearings.”

Click here for the full article.


GAB NEWS video: Rep. Hewitt presents Mayor Bill Otis with S.C. House resolution recognizing and honoring his service

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GAB NEWS – “It has been 20 years since Pawleys Island Mayor Bill Otis was elected to that office.

He has guided the island town through many changes during the two decades. But many say his biggest accomplishment has been keeping changes from actually happening. Keeping the town the nice, quiet, nearly non-commercial place it has always been.

Now, Otis is retiring from the position. He will be replaced by Jimmy Braswell or Douglas Hooks, whichever wins the Nov. 7 election.

On Monday evening, Otis — the town’s longest-serving mayor — was honored with plaques containing resolutions passed by the S.C. House of Representatives and Georgetown County Council in his honor.”

Click here for the article.


Update from Rep. Hewitt

A lot has happened since in the last month.

One of the biggest state issues is the failed V.C. Summer nuclear reactor project involving SCANA and Santee-Cooper. In addition to supporting the protection of ratepayers in this spending disaster, I support the House leadership in asking for a S.C. Law Enforcement Division investigation of SCANA, of which SLED has agreed to undertake. Click here for the letter asking for the investigation.

In April, before the reactor project was abandoned, my campaign received a contribution from a SCANA PAC. This week I returned the contribution. I think it’s the right thing to do. 

On September 13th, the House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee met in Conway for our third public hearing about the opioid addiction epidemic. We heard compelling testimony from physicians, law enforcement officials and recovering addicts. We also heard heart-wrenching testimony from Lorraine Ryan and Noreen Beck, who lost sons to overdoses. We’ve got to find solutions for this epidemic as soon as possible.

This month I was privileged to tour the International Paper mill in Georgetown with the county legislative delegation. It’s an impressive operation employing about 600 workers that’s economically very important to both the county and city. I learned a lot from the tour.

Last week, as chairman of the Murrells Inlet July 4th Boat Parade, I was pleased to present the Belin Memorial United Methodist Church Boy Scout Troop with a check for $21,500 from the proceeds of T-shirt sales from the 2017 boat parade. This makes nearly $300,000 the boat parade committee has raised for the Boy Scouts since the inception of the parade 34 years ago. The committee is proud to support Troop 396 and thank them for making a difference in our community.

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

Rep. Lee Hewitt