I hope you weathered the winter storm safely. It’s a sport in our state to criticize officials for closing things early, but as we saw pictures from cities like Atlanta on Wednesday, it is better to be safe than sorry.
That said, I would like to thank our first responders, DOT workers, and those who had a hand in keeping our roads clear and safe. While we hunkered down with our families (and perhaps a warm fire) they were out fighting Mother Nature. Thank them if you see them this weekend.
The General Assembly closed this week because many of our House members and Senators drive home each night and it was simply safer for members and our staff to not commute this week. There was still a good amount of political news to share.
Unemployment – The State announced on Tuesday that our unemployment rate dropped to 6.6 percent. That’s below 7 percent for the first time since 2008, and below the national average for the first time since 2001.
Nobody can take all of the credit for this, and surely a lot of people are trying. For more than a decade, my House Republican colleagues have made job creation a central plank in our agenda each year. We have lowered the tax rates small businesses pay, enacted sweeping lawsuit abuse reforms, and worked to eliminate undue regulatory burdens. Government can’t create jobs, but we can create an environment where it is easier for the private sector – notably small businesses – to create them.
Despite the great news, 6.6 percent unemployment is still too high, and we need to continue working so everyone in our state who can work has a job. The House Republicans are always interested in your ideas about how to get government out of your way so you can create jobs. We look forward to working with the Senate and Governor Haley to keep up this momentum!
The Passing of an Icon – During the snowstorm on Tuesday night, South Carolina lost a legislative legend. Rep. Herb Kirsh of Clover, a shopkeeper turned mayor and then state House member, passed away at the age of 84.
When he left the House in 2010, he was the longest-serving legislator, and was highly respected on both sides of the aisle. He drove to the Statehouse from Clover each day so he could fight for individuals and small businesses. He never strayed from his principles (he was the definition of a Blue Dog Democrat), and was one of the most fiscally conservative members of the House until his last day. We ask you to pray for the Kirsh family.
It is an honor and a privilege to serve you in Columbia again this year. If you need help navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.