Local lawmakers lay out their vision for the next legislative session

zmurdock@beaufortgazette.comDecember 3, 2013 

Denise Parsick, commissioner of the Beaufort Soil & Water Conservation District, left, talks with Sen. Tom Davis during the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce's Annual Legislative Reception on Dec. 3, 2013, at the Historic Arsenal in Beaufort.

DELAYNA EARLEY — Staff photo Buy Photo

Trash, the Jasper Port and business development were on the minds of five area state politicians Tuesday night.

State Sens. Chip Campsen, Tom Davis and Clementa Pinckney and state Reps. Shannon Erickson and Kenneth Hodges discussed those topics with more than 60 business owners and local officials during the Beaufort Regional Chamber of Commerce's Annual Legislative Reception. The event was held at The Arsenal

The trash talk concerned flow control legislation which could eliminate the ability of local governments to control how waste is handled.

Davis and Campsen oppose that legislation which they say would effectively give large corporations that control landfills a monopoly on the waste management market.

Without the ability to decide where its trash goes, Beaufort County would be at the mercy of Waste Management, which owns the Hickory Hill landfill the county currently uses, Davis said.

"It looks like a monopoly, it quacks like a monopoly; it really is a monopoly," Campsen added.

Pinckney agreed.

"We need to spend time looking at how we permit for waste sites," he said. "I think we need to have a good, comprehensive approach. We need to allow local communities to make those kinds of decisions."

Another economic driver could be the proposed deep-water port in Jasper County, Pinckney said.

"Everybody right now -- the Georgia Ports Authority, the South Carolina Ports Authority, the Corps of Engineers -- all agree the Jasper port will be a reality," Davis said. "The disagreement is (over) when will it be online? Will it come in 2026? 2028? We'd like to get it online earlier."

The sooner it's online, the sooner it can attract jobs to the area, Pinckney said.

All five legislators want to improve the county's economy by making it a prime location for businesses.

The best way to do that would be to lower all taxes, bringing both people and businesses to the area, Davis said.

Erickson said the best thing the legislature can do is get out of the way of business by lowering or eliminating some taxes such as the county's business tax

Eliminating that tax and lowering others would stimulate development better than special incentive packages for particular companies, Davis said.

But in the end, the county needs to identify it's greatest attribute -- it's location and natural beauty, Campsen said.

"You know what Beaufort County has going for it? I mean, besides this legislative delegation?" Campsen said to laughter. "Seriously, it's gorgeous. It's paradise. You don't have to bribe people to come to paradise."

Follow reporter Zach Murdock at twitter.com/IPBG_Zach.

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