Dear Friends and Neighbors:
I’d like to thank you for your support in my re-election bid last month. I was honored to receive your renewed vote of confidence in my work as your Representative and look forward to working for you for two more years. The issues that were discussed during the campaign and the views and concerns many of you shared with me will be part of my agenda for my upcoming legislative session.
Although the General Assembly adjourned back in the spring and many legislators take the fall and winter months off from legislative work, I’ve continued working all year long. While this extra work is not required, some issues are too important to put them on “hold” for the six months the General Assembly is not in session. This out-of-session work is vital to helping ensure prompt action on important issues as well as making sure that I’m prepared when the next session begins next year.
Here’s some of what I’ve been up to recently:
- South Carolina Association of School Business Officials: I was honored to receive their “Champion of Education” award at their annual conference.
- DMV Rock Hill office naming: I was one of the legislators who sponsored a resolution to name the Rock Hill DMV branch after Medal of Honor recipient Kyle White. White, a former U.S. Army Sergeant, won the award for heroism under fire in Afghanistan.
- WhatWorksSC Conference: This annual event brings together educators and elected officials to discuss and showcase innovative education programs and strategies. This helps me better understand the needs and learn about new approaches we can take in advancing education reform.
- Ad Hoc Committee on School Climate and Safety: This joint special committee of members of the House’s Education and Ways and Means Committees was created to find ways to address school safety and security, as well as healthier environments for students. This fall, we’ve held meetings where we heard testimony from safety and security professionals to make our schools safer and our children protected and will be holding another later this month.
- SC Charter School Ad Hoc Committee: This Committee is responsible for looking at the 1996 legislation that created the SC Charter School Act, to identify the strengths and weaknesses of the legislation. I serve as the Co-Chair of the Committee. In recent weeks, we have been taking testimony and reports from Charter Schools and charter school authorizers across the state, with the intent of implementing changes that will allow our charter school students to reach their potential. We will meet again later this month.
- House Re-Organization Meetings: The House met last week for a short session, where House members, including myself, were sworn in for our next terms, elected leaders and received our Committee assignments for the 2019-2020 term. I was re-appointed to the House Education and Public Works Committee and was re-elected by committee members to serve as the First Vice-Chair of the Committee and will continue to serve as the Chair of the K-12 sub-committee. This important State House committee oversees legislation and oversight of public education from K-12 to higher education, Department of Motor Vehicles, highway safety and the Department of Transportation.
During our re-organization meetings, House Speaker Jay Lucas challenged House members to put K-12 education reform on the front burner in next year’s session. As Chair of the K-12 Education sub-committee, I will be very involved in this effort. The process of reforming education will explore many issues, including teacher pay, school safety, improving oversight and accountability. At the same time, we need to find ways to do the most we can without increasing tax burdens, especially residential property taxes. Much of my time at the State House since we adjourned in the spring has been to gear up for this effort and I’m eager to get to work.
We’ll be returning to Columbia late next month when the 2019-2020 session begins and I’ll have another update then. If you have any questions in the meantime, please feel free to reach out to me.