Senate Majority Leader Peeler: we must listen

Voters have spoken; we must listen By HARVEY PEELER For the Herald-Journal

The past year has been pretty eventful for South Carolina. We passed a number of conservative reforms in the Senate and made the hard choices when it came budget time. The primaries revealed some surprises, and when Nov. 2 rolled around conservatives took every statewide office. That means well for next year and the years to come.

However, not everything was coming up roses. There are lessons to be learned from what wasn’t working and what voters are telling elected officials.

Politically, you’d think a nasty virus swept through the electorate. People are sick of excuses. What we have to do is double down to find solutions to problems like the state budget woes, and not kick it down the road. People are sick of politicians putting faith in government. The way South Carolina moves forward is by empowering individuals to find their own way and allowing businesses to grow in a free market, not coming up with “fixes” from government.

People are sick of Republicans acting like Democrats. A voter goes to the polls to elect a Republican because he or she expects us to cut taxes, limit government and encourage economic growth. Elected Republicans who stray from that may soon find themselves out of office. The people know that we will fix our economy and create jobs when we put our faith back in people and not in government.

As majority leader, I take my responsibility seriously to help craft the priorities Senate Republicans will champion, work hard for and see passed into law. There are policies we’re fighting for that have stuck around for a while, whether it’s something that happens in committee, or disagreements with the House or the governor. Next session, though, with a nearly new slate of state officials and large GOP majorities in the General Assembly, we have an unprecedented opportunity to move forward.

One of my top priorities for next year is driving our caucus more to the right and demanding common sense conservative reforms like spending caps and government restructuring, including needed changes to state health care agencies and the Budget and Control Board. The crisis with the funding of Medicaid and other programs through the Department of Health and Human Services, in particular, cries out for changes to make sure needed services are provided without requiring running deficits, higher taxes, more spending or more government.

Also at the top of the list is tort reform. There’s no excuse. It’s past time for action.

We also need a good voter ID law. As much as our friends on the other side may act like it’s no big deal, voter fraud is not a laughing matter. The rest of the caucus and I are ready to push through the Democrats’ stalling tactics to make certain our elections are safe, secure and beyond doubt. Considering the amount of things on a daily basis when one needs to show a picture ID, doing it to vote is not that large an imposition.

And let’s not forget on-the-record voting. We’ve passed Senate rules to require on-the-record voting for a particular session, but that’s nothing permanent. At any given session, if enough senators agree, that session could be without what we’ve been doing recently and reassert the old order. We need to pass a law and make on-the-record voting real. Some people say that’s unconstitutional. If that’s proven, then we will put through a constitutional amendment to allow the voters to decide, correcting that issue.

The voters have told us they’re fed up. I’m listening, and I’m going to demand that my colleagues get down to business.

Sen. Harvey Peeler represents District 14, which includes portions of Cherokee, Spartanburg, Union and York counties.