Roads and Reforming DOT
After a period of furlough, the South Carolina House hit the ground running this past week by passing a comprehensive Department of Transportation (DOT) restructuring plan and made headway in final committee matters leading up to the crossover period.
After a year of waiting and within days of receiving the much talked about roads and infrastructure improvement legislation back from the Senate, the House passed a roads and infrastructure bill which for the first time in decades, truly reforms the Department of Transportation from the top down and ads significant accountability measures to the broken agency.
While the Senate’s plan funded road improvements for the next fiscal year to the tune of $400 million, my colleagues and I anticipated this action and allocated $415 million toward road improvements in the budget we passed prior to the furlough period – without raising taxes.
Some have taken to the press claiming our actions to reform the DOT have permanently killed the passage of long-term legislation to fix our roads and bridges. These politically motivated claims don’t resonate with me and I remain hopeful. Without increasing the burden on taxpayers, the House plan provides more funds for road repairs than the Senate plan. The funding being relatively equal, the Senate must now decide if they are willing to effectively reform the DOT governance model which allowed our roads to become unsafe over decades of mismanagement, or if they will listen to the taxpayers of our state demanding DOT reform be a serious priority. I heard you loud and clear, and voted accordingly. My hope is the Senate will concur and that it will not take the Senate chamber another year to address the matter with finality.
In closing, each year, lawmakers spend roughly 4 months hearing testimony and crafting legislation. The end of that 4-month period concludes with the beginning of the crossover period which occurs the first week in May. The crossover period simply demands that no more legislation can be considered by the House or Senate, forcing each body to act on legislation passed by the other body instead of new items in the remaining days of the session. In short, if a bill is going to be passed this year, it has to make it out of at least one chamber prior to this deadline.
If there is a particular piece of legislation you’re concerned about that hasn’t been passed leading up to crossover date, I hope you’ll contact me about it.
As always, it is a privilege to serve you in the South Carolina House. If you ever need help with state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please to not hesitate to contact me.