Legislative Session: Week Two

The Start of a New Session
January 16, 2013
Legislative Update from Rep. Tommy Pope
January 23, 2013

Legislative Session: Week Two

This week was the second week of the new legislative session. These early weeks center around small groups of committees debating legislation and receiving testimony on it from the public.

While it may seem like very little is going on (if you only watch the proceedings on the House floor), these meetings are critical because it is in these meetings where the general public can have the greatest influence on legislation. I urge everyone to go to www.scstatehouse.gov and look at the meetings and the bills. It is all public, all front-and-center, and very easy to find.

But this week, Governor Haley gave the State of the State Address: Her yearly update to the General Assembly about what is going on. We were excited to hear the Governor give endorsements to so many of the issues we placed on our Republican Caucus Agenda earlier this month.

One agenda item that began moving was our election reform law designed to fix the tremendous flaws in filing to run for office. These flaws were exposed last year when hundreds of people were kicked off the ballot around the state on what we believe to be a minor technicality on how papers were filed. We didn’t agree with it, and we’re working quickly to fix it. The bill will be in the full House Judiciary Committee next week and we hope it can come to a vote before the end of the month.

Our friends on the other side of the aisle tipped their hand this week on what they believe is the biggest issue of the year: A massive expansion of government healthcare that will cost our state taxpayers billions of dollars and put nearly 40 percent of our state on a government health plan.

That is “a good deal” according to the Democratic leadership. My fellow Republicans and I vehemently disagree.

The U.S. Supreme Court gave states the specific ability to “opt-in” to the radically expanded Medicaid program. They did this by a strong 7-2 vote of the justices. Currently, our state has made tough choices on how to spend scarce Medicaid dollars. We direct the majority of our efforts toward nursing home care for the elderly, children living at or near the poverty line, and pregnant women and infants.

If the Democrats have their way, they would put more than 764,000 more people on Medicaid – in a state of only 4.6 million people. If they have their way, 2 out of every 5 people in our state would be dependents of the government. If they have their way, our state share of Medicaid would jump 57 percent.

What Democrats did not tell us this week is what taxes they want to raise to pay for this. They didn’t say what their plan was to get people off Medicaid and into private insurance. They didn’t say which of the elderly, children, or pregnant women they would cut benefits from in order to pay for this massive government takeover.

The Republican Caucus pledged to fight the implementation of Obamacare in our state and the massive tax increases that follow it. We believe the best way forward is to expand our economy and expand opportunities for people so they can get well-paying jobs that provide health insurance. We sympathize with people struggling to pay for the high costs of medical care, but adding 17 percent of our state to government dependency is not a sustainable path forward.

Democrats are being suckered in to promises of federal deficit dollars that may never appear. The President has already said the promised Medicaid match dollars are a good place to begin to cut federal spending.

Obamacare is little more than a poorly-thought-out boondoggle that is already failing to meet its myriad promises. This is neither a “good deal” nor “common sense” for the taxpayers of our state.

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 803.984.6616.