Dear District 3 constituent,
This letter should be arriving in your mailbox just as the S.C. General Assembly prepares to wrap up its 2018 legislative session. Although the legislature adjourned in May, our work is not yet done. Instead, it has extended into the summer months with special sessions to finish hammering out the 2019 budget, as well as to address how best to protect ratepayers in the wake of the state’s two failed nuclear reactor sites.
There’s been much talk about the many things that didn’t get done because of the scale of problems facing our state as a result of SCE&G and SCANA’s scrapped projects. But I would be remiss in not mentioning that District 3 constituents can and should feel good about much of the work that came from our corner of South Carolina, in part because this session afforded an opportunity for us to provide leadership on a number of controversial and complex issues.
I’m pleased to share with my constituents a little about the bills I sponsored that received Gov. McMaster’s signature this session, including:
Dyslexia Screening: Legislation I sponsored calling for the state to screen students in kindergarten through second grade for characteristics of dyslexia has been signed into law, and it will become effective in the 2019-2020 school year. The bill requires the state Department of Education to provide a universal screening tool that local school districts can use to screen students in kindergarten through second grade and determine if they have characteristics of dyslexia. In addition to allowing parents to request screening for their student, the bill empowers school districts to bring together school-based, problem-solving teams to analyze the data that comes from the screening and then devise ways to help teachers plan the right teaching methods for students who may need it.
Advanced Practice Registered Nurse Practitioner’s Bill: After a concerted effort that was supported by tens of thousands of medical professionals and rural healthcare providers, I was proud to play a key role in sponsoring legislation and rallying overwhelming support in both chambers of the General Assembly that led to the passage of the APRN Practitioner’s bill. Governor McMaster’s signature on this bill, which removes barriers that were previously in place for APRNs, opens the door for these medical professionals to provide healthcare to thousands of South Carolinians. Not only will this save the state money (by increasing access to primary care and improving health outcomes for patients), this landmark legislation also promises to improve quality of life for District 3 and all South Carolinians, especially for those living in rural and underserved communities or those considered underserved in urban communities.
The SC Solar Habitat Act: This bipartisan incentive program, which I sponsored with Rep. Russell Ott, D-St. Matthews, became law June 1 and encourages the owners of ground-mounted commercial solar energy generation sites to provide native perennial vegetation and foraging habitats beneficial to gamebirds, songbirds and pollinators. The law also seeks to reduce storm water runoff and erosion at the sites, so that instead of seeing nothing but solar panels, barbed wire fence and gravel, we have native grasses and flowers to the extent possible.
Yes, there was much work to be done in Columbia this year, but some of the things I’m most proud of happened outside the Statehouse. I was honored to be recognized as Upstate Forever’s Public Servant of the Year for 2018. This was, in part, due to my role in supporting legislation that limits where toxic coal ash can be disposed of in our state. But Upstate Forever also noted in their award the important work that so many of us were a part of last fall — making sure 40-foot-tall smokestacks did not appear in the backyards of our Clemson neighbors and residents.
The opportunity to help broker a compromise with Clemson University and City of Clemson to relocate the power plant away from private homes was a win, not only for residents of the Vineyard Road-area neighborhood, but it was also a win for all of us who place value on safeguarding our private property rights and our quality of life close to home.
Finally, I want to call attention to some of the hardest working volunteers I know who have made the state’s first-ever charter school to serve students with dyslexia a reality. Lakes and Bridges Charter School will open this fall in Pickens County. It has been the personal and professional joy of a lifetime to watch and work alongside these men and women who are advocating not only for dyslexia legislation, but also a unique educational environment that will foster continued growth and understanding for those who live and learn with dyslexia. I want to thank them for their continued labor of love as they usher this project from idea to reality in the 2018-19 school year.
There is more work to do, and I look forward to tackling these issues and many, many more in the coming years, including:
- Strengthening Department of Transportation transparency and accountability
- Championing independent redistricting efforts
- Ethics reform, penning and passing legislation to create true transparency for elected officials’ sources of income, as well as uncovering sources of dark money
- Ratepayer protection in the wake of the SCANA/Santee-Cooper/V.C. Sumner Nuclear facility closure, including efforts to reform the state’s Public Service Commission, Santee Cooper Board, and Office of Regulatory Staff
It is an honor and a blessing to be your District 3 state House representative. Thank you for the continued opportunity, and please don’t hesitate to reach out if I can be of assistance.
Yours in service,
Rep. Gary Clary