This week, your S.C. House of Representatives went back to work at the Statehouse.
It is notable that we unanimously passed our first agenda item, on-the-record roll-call voting, and witnessed history as our former colleague, Nikki Haley, became the first female governor of our state.
We approved a major expansion of roll-call voting this week, and I believe firmly that if legislation is important enough to be debated in our chamber, it is important enough for everyone to know how we voted.
In addition, I am happy to report that our statehouse website biography pages have already been updated to include easy access to those recorded votes. You can view mine at: scstatehouse.gov/members/bios/0539772663.html.
If the roll-call voting issue sounds familiar, you may remember me writing about it during our previous legislative session.
Disappointingly, while the House approved this legislation last year, it never passed the Senate.
Transparency in our voting records was a good idea then and is a good idea now, so we took it up during the first week. I am hoping for speedy passage in the Senate and would encourage you to share your thoughts with them on this subject.
This bill was just the first item in a long and ambitious agenda for 2011. My fellow House members and I started compiling action items during the summer and fall, while we were getting input from voters across our districts and the state.
My short legislative survey gave me invaluable insight into what you, the citizens, need, expect and value from your state government. With the budget shortfall that we face this year in mind, 56 percent of responders felt that we should eliminate agencies that are not core functions of government. In addition, less than 20 percent felt that we should raise taxes and/or user fees. They also shared that law enforcement, K-12 education, and sewer, water and roads are the top three functions of state government.
I drew on all the information shared as I and other members compiled our agenda.
Some of our agenda items for 2011 and 2012 are:
Creating jobs in a stronger economy: I am committed to creating a business-friendly economic climate to help create jobs.
We will work to pass comprehensive tort reform and changes to our "point of sale" law, and to rid our state of burdensome regulation so that South Carolinians can build the next wave of great small business.
Improving education: Making education funding more equitable and efficient, especially here in Beaufort County, and ensuring a vibrant and healthy statewide charter school system is essential for the long-term success of our education system.
Transparency and government reform: Transparency and efficiency in government is a critical conservative philosophy. I will fight for more on-the-record voting, more transparency in how our colleges and universities spend their money, and more efficiency in how state government is structured. I will also fight for strict spending caps for state government, a shorter legislative session and the requirement to show photo ID when voting.
Limiting government power: This is essential to freedom and personal liberty and is also a core conservative principal. I will support the Repeal Amendment, a federal constitutional amendment that will allow two-thirds of states to vote to repeal a federal law.
In addition, I am supportive of a revamped S.C. Taxpayer Bill of Rights and new requirements that the General Assembly approve new regulations by the unelected officials of state agencies.
Fighting illegal immigration: The House will see debate on an Arizona-style immigration bill. Fifty-five percent of the respondents to my survey want this type of legislation.
It is my hope that we can build on the successes of our 2008 immigration legislation. Early indications are this law is working, but we can do more to ensure we welcome legal immigrants and discourage illegal immigrants from settling in our state.
The House has passed many of these items in past years, and I expect that we will again this year. I look forward to working with you, my colleagues in the House and Senate, and our reform-minded, new governor on making these priorities law.
As always, thank you for the privilege of serving you in Columbia. If I can ever be of assistance to you, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with the rest of the General Assembly, please don't hesitate to contact me at 843-263-1867 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Rep. Shannon S. Erickson serves South Carolina House District 124 in Beaufort County