EASLEY — The Greater Easley Chamber of Commerce hosted its annual Legislative Breakfast recently in Easley with Sen. Larry Martin and Rep. Neal Collins on hand to speak to local business owners and constituents about the last year in South Carolina politics.
Martin began the session Oct. 28 by addressing the audience with positive comments about the Easley community before addressing issues legislators across the state have faced over the last year.
“The Easley community is the center of commerce for Pickens County, leading the way in the retail market and jobs,” Martin began. “I want to take a moment before we begin speaking of individual issues to commend you all for your efforts where Easley is concerned.”
Martin then addressed issues that have been at the top of the Legislature’s list of important to do items. The state’s roads continued to dominate the agenda items to be addressed, and in the wake of Hurricane Joaquin, has become even more important with damage to 250 plus roads and bridges, as well as concerns over aging dams.
“The House passed a bill and sent it over to us (Senate) and we will get to it as the first item when we return to Columbia, and I feel as if some progress will be made,” Martin said. “With damage created by the flooding in the upstate and midlands, there are some areas which will require more work. The federal government and state government will have to provide the funds to help repair these roads and bridges. And there are those who didn’t have flood insurance and the state will most likely be doing all they can to help there. There will be progress but we will also have to kick in extra money as well in the wake of flooding.”
With the passage of Martin’s revised Criminal Domestic Violence statutes in South Carolina, there is a positive affect, he stated, but in the long run more needs to be done.
“While it is a big thing to make some changes in the domestic violence laws in this state, there is still a long way to go as we are still ranked dead last in these statistics,” Martin said. “I would like to see us take steps to put in more hefty resources for prosecution of offenders and jail time and it’s really time to do something meaningful like Texas, Louisiana, and other states in our region have done.”
Collins addressed some of the same issues as Martin but also addressed a recent push by a grassroots movement in Pickens County to stop any influx of Syrian immigrants to the county.
“This is about the effects of that vote on the entire county but also how it affects businesses locally and prompts me to urge you to be more involved in the process,” Collins said. “You have to pay attention to local government as business owners and make sure you are informed. Other than the governor’s stance, this is a federal issue through immigration, which includes the vetting of these immigrants.
“Spartanburg County had the same concerns as Pickens County, but after completely gathering information about the process, the numbers of immigrants, etc., they decided it was a non-issue altogether,” he added. “These are Christian based organizations sponsoring these immigrants.”
As a preview of the upcoming session in 2016, Collins gave a brief overview of what he felt would be the top items for the Legislature as a whole.
“The roads in the state will be a high priority once again, you can almost rest assured of that. We need to find a solution which will work for the state and get our infrastructure where it should be,” he said. “Education is going to be a top priority as well. We just increased the per pupil base spending and will be addressing how to shore up the system moving forward.”
Reach D. C. Moody at 864-855-0355.