Good morning. Hope you’re well.
I accepted the Legislator of Year Award from the SC Farm Bureau via video in December. Rick Caldwell, Farm Bureau policy specialist and legislative coordinator, presented the actual award to me on Wednesday in Columbia. My thanks to the Farm Bureau for this very nice award.
As a member of the House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee, I heard from countless law enforcement officers, recovering addicts, medical professionals, and heart-wrenching testimony from family members of overdose victims about the growing opioid addiction epidemic, particularly the impacts of the powerful synthetic opioid fentanyl.
From 2019 to 2020, drug overdose deaths involving fentanyl increased 105% in South Carolina and it’s my understanding that preliminary 2021 data shows deaths climbing even higher. Charleston and Georgetown counties are some of the hardest hit areas. Fentanyl was involved in nearly 80% of all opioid-involved overdose deaths in the state.
So, on Wednesday, I was pleased to join 91 of my colleagues in passing a strong fentanyl trafficking bill. H.3503 declares fentanyl a Schedule 1 drug and increases the penalties on dealers who sell it.
This bipartisan bill provides a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years and sends a strong message to drug dealers and those trafficking fentanyl that South Carolina will no longer tolerate their dangerous activity in our state. I hope the Senate will move quickly to pass this legislation.
On Monday, I was privileged to participate in a panel of legislators at the SC Beach Advocates’ annual meeting on the Isle of Palms. We provided the group with a legislative update and answered questions. I very much appreciate the efforts of the Beach Advocates to educate the public, governmental authorities, and elected officials as to the environmental, economic, and social importance of our beaches and inlets.
On Tuesday, I welcomed Dr. Gerald Harmon and Dr. Elizabeth Dixon of Tidelands Heath to serve as Doctors of the Day for the House of Representatives. For Dr. Harmon, who is the immediate past president of the American Medical Association, this was his 31st year serving as Doctor of the Day. Dr. Dixon is from Myrtle Beach and is a Senior Resident at Tidelands.
I welcome visits to my office in the State House and to attend House sessions and committee meetings. We’re usually in session Tuesday through Thursday. Groups are welcome. Please contact me to schedule a visit.
I’m honored to represent District 108 in the House. Please let me know if I can be of any assistance.
Rep. Lee Hewitt