(Published in the Daily Journal)

The General Assembly returned from our two-week furlough to the exciting news that Boeing plans to greatly expand its presence in North Charleston, adding 2,000 additional jobs and investing an additional $1 billion in our state.

In the House, we have worked to create policies that make South Carolina a pro-business state to attract high-paying jobs. It’s great to see companies like Michelin, BMW, and Boeing recognize the value of doing business here. Both the Senate and House gave approval to a $120 million bond package to provide infrastructure support for Boeing’s expansion. Boeing must meet its hiring and investment goals by 2020 or the state can recoup its investment.

While Boeing is based in North Charleston, I believe we will see a tremendous “multiplier effect” that will help all parts of the state, as we did with BMW in the 1990s. Today, BMW suppliers are found in 41 of our state’s 46 counties. We expect similar results with Boeing. There are some legitimate concerns about the use of government incentives for private business, but they are simply the only way to compete when other states and countries all over the world are offering them.

In other news from the Statehouse, we are working on ways to restructure government to make it more efficient. The House has approved a proposed constitutional amendment for the Adjutant General to be appointed by the governor, with the Senate’s consent, rather than elected. The Adjutant General serves as the commander of all military forces within the state’s Military Department and is responsible to the governor for the proper performance of his or her duties. The proposed amendment calls for a four-year term of service for the Adjutant General that would be staggered with the governor’s term. If approved, this constitutional amendment will go to voters as a ballot question in the next general election.

Several key bills have moved through committees in the last few weeks and now advance to the full House or Senate. One example is a bill that reforms election laws. It addresses the lawsuits filed in the last general election, resulting in many challengers being removed from the ballot. The legislation revises the filing requirements and provisions governing how someone becomes a candidate for public office to ensure we have free and fair elections in South Carolina.

Other bills moving to the full House or Senate are the High Growth Small Business Job Creation Act, designed to encourage private investment in start-up companies to help them flourish, as well as legislation to ensure fair competition for state and local government construction projects. Other bills moving forward would provide tax credits for revitalizing abandoned commercial buildings and would create a seven-member committee to study our state’s economic development laws and policies.

In the education area, among the bills we are debating are ones that would establish accountability-based funding for public universities, would enhance in-state tuition eligibility for veterans and dependents, and would increase accountability standards for charter schools. Finally, a bill is progressing that would make it mandatory for anyone whose duties require direct contact with children to be a mandatory reporter of child abuse or neglect.

During this time of year, bills are moving through the legislature at a very fast pace. You can keep up on the latest any time by going to SCStatehouse.gov.

It is an honor to serve you and your family. If I can ever assist you, my door is open.