Roads, Retirement Reform, & REAL ID
This 8th week of legislative session was jam-packed with sweeping solutions to three major problems facing our state. In the House, we passed a bill to fix our dangerous and crumbling roads, give solvency to the state retirement system, and allow for compliance with federal ID card standards.
For years, the General Assembly has addressed our infrastructure needs in a piecemeal fashion, not actually focusing on long-term infrastructure issues that have created major safety concerns and eroded economic development opportunities. Last Session, the House led the way by passing a bill containing a long-term approach to fixing our roads and bridges. Due to political pressure, the Senate was unable to pass a long-term funding plan. This week, the House has again passed a sustainable and reliable plan that not only dramatically reforms the South Carolina Department of Transportation, but first focuses on curbing our highest-in-the-nation motorist fatality rate by repairing our most deadly roadways in rural areas. The bill is now in the Senate where I expect it will be amended in some manner and sent back for our further consideration.
Our roads are crumbling, but it’s also no secret our state retirement system is in need of immediate attention, too. On Tuesday, my House colleagues and I passed a bipartisan measure to cap the rate paid by employees in the state retirement system, adjust the rate paid into the system by both employer and employee, and to inject sufficient funding into the current system to bring solvency to the struggling benefit plan. The market crash and recession of 2008 along with poor management contributed to the deficiencies we face today. Doing nothing and thereby not honoring promises made to employees is not an option. I believe it’s very important to ensure our teachers, first responders, and public employees have a sound foundation for retirement. The Senate amended and passed our House proposal and I will have another update as we progress further.
Finally, the House also gave bipartisan support to a piece of legislation that would bring our state-issued ID cards (such as a driver’s license) into compliance with federally mandated security standards. You may have seen signs posted in the airport giving ample warning that later this year the TSA will no longer accept the current South Carolina driver’s license as an acceptable form of identification for boarding a commercial aircraft. This bill makes sure that never happens and allows you and your family to travel without any issues. I also heard from some, who for valid personal reasons, did not wish to comply with the federal security minimums. This bill also included an opt-out clause which would allow those residents to continue without any penalty and without conforming to the REAL ID federal standards.
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.