Lawmakers hope to see more cooperation, building upon the summer

panel

Reps. Nathan Ballentine and Joe Neal; Sens. Joel Lourie, Katrina Shealy and Ronnie Cromer

This morning, ADCO had a table at the latest Columbia Regional Business Report’s Power Breakfast. This one was about looking ahead to the coming legislative session, and featured a panel of lawmakers — Reps. Nathan Ballentine and Joe Neal, and Sens. Joel Lourie, Katrina Shealy and Ronnie Cromer.

(Bryan Caskey joined me at the ADCO table, along with several other representatives of local law firms whom I invited.)

The nice thing about “covering” these events is that if I just wait a few hours, CRBR will put up its own report that gives you the basics and saves me from a lot of typing. An excerpt:

Next year’s legislative session will be a failure if not remembered for collaboration across party lines, state lawmakers said today.

Legislators from both sides of the aisle urged to see similar cooperation next year from the General Assembly as it did in the aftermath of the Emanuel AME tragedy. The give-and-take between Democrats and Republicans will be vital if the state hopes to finally fix crumbling infrastructure, they said during the Columbia Regional Business Report’s quarterly “Power Breakfast” networking event at the Columbia Marriott.

“I think 2016, more than anything else is going to be known as the year that we either came up with an idea to fund our infrastructure and do it in the right manner,” said Sen. Ronnie Cromer, R-Newberry, “or it’s going to be known as the year we failed the people of South Carolina. Because we couldn’t put some plan together to fund our roads and bridges.”

Rep. Nathan Ballentine, R-Chapin, knows it can be easy to assume collaboration as part of the General Assembly’s supermajority. But he still saw it at work when his colleagues voted to remove the Confederate Flag from the Statehouse grounds in July and expects to see more of it again next year, this time without tragedy serving as a catalyst….

And that pretty much states it. There was an air of cautious optimism that maybe, just maybe — after the miracle they experienced together over the summer (achieving near-unanimity on an issue that had previously been too controversial even to bring up), that goodwill could be channeled productively on other fronts.

Of course, the usual differences were on display — the three Republicans tended to think in terms of coming together over infrastructure; the two Democrats wanted to see some Republicans agreeing with them on Medicaid expansion. But there was also agreement on some key issues — Democrats agreed infrastructure must be dealt with, and both sides acknowledged that the state Supreme Court’s instructions to improve educational opportunity in poor, rural districts must be meaningfully addressed as well.

Beyond that, here are some Tweets that give you the flavor of the session:

1 thought on “Lawmakers hope to see more cooperation, building upon the summer

  1. Assistant

    Sadly, you and others are missing the real super good news, and that’s the $20 million water park to be built at Hard Scrabble and Farrow roads near Interstate 77. So despite the destruction of infrastructure caused by water, a/k/a flooding, the nitwits who know what’s better for us have let a contract for more water:

    The $20 million for its design and construction will come from the county’s 2 percent hospitality tax on prepared meals dedicated to funding tourism projects. A quarter of the cost has been set aside from current hospitality tax reserves, and the county will borrow $15 million to be paid back over a maximum of 20 years.

    Why do conservatives rant on and on about tax increases? Because all too many of our elected, appointed, and civil service folks find really stupid things on which to wiz away the money collected. Heck, it was just sitting there, so let’s get rid of it is the mantra.

    What’s worse in this case is that they’re not only taking the hospitality tax reserves and exhausting them, but they are incurring additional debt by borrowing over 20 years funded by bonds! So if we somehow get fiscally responsible folks into positions of responsibility, their hands are tied by the silly commitments of their predecessors.

    And the rationale? It will increase tourism! Er, by whom? Do you really expect Ed and Edna in Rock Hill or Chester or St. Matthews to pack the kids into the SUV for a trip to Hard Scrabble and Farrow? Sure, there’s a Goodwill nearby, and good times at the Corner Pantry and Quick Stop, but really, aren’t there other attractions that don’t involve skin cancer a bit closer to home?

    Okay, I admit that the fact that I’m not a water park guy may be influencing my view. But I’m also reality based, and a water park is a seasonal thingy, dependent on weather and such. And what is government doing paying for such an extravaganza? Leave it to the private sector to make such decisions!

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