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Legislature: County lawmakers named to environmental committees

By Jason Lesley

Georgetown County’s new members of the state legislature were assigned to committees dealing with the environment this week after taking oaths of office in the state House and Senate.

Rep. Lee Hewitt in District 108 was assigned to the Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee. “That’s one of the most critical components of this district,” he said. Hewitt said he’s requested to be placed on the Environmental Affairs Subcommittee.

“The elections, the process and the ceremony all kicking off was exciting,” he said. His deskmate will be Rep. Mike Ryhal of Carolina Forest. Sitting directly behind him will be Rep. Russell Fry, who represents the Horry district that borders District 108. “We will be able to sit there and talk about any Horry-Georgetown county issues,” Hewitt said.

State Sen. Goldfinch, new to District 34, was assigned to six committees: Judiciary; General; Agriculture; Invitations; Fish, Game and Forestry; and Labor, Commerce and Industry. “That’s a lot,” he said. “I’ll be busy.”

Goldfinch said the Judiciary Committee is the “workhorse of the Senate” where 90 percent of the bills go. “Judiciary, Labor, Commerce and Industry and Fish, Game and Forestry will be my three big time-consuming committees,” he said. “Agriculture does deal with environmental affairs. Any kind of meddling with environmental issues is Agriculture.”

Goldfinch said he voted to re-elect Sen. Hugh Leatherman of Florence as president pro tem of the Senate. Leatherman was re-elected by a vote of 36-9. Goldfinch said most of the nays were on principle. “I voted for him because it doesn’t make sense to vote against somebody with no opposition,” he said.

Goldfinch expects Sen. Kevin Bryant of Anderson to become the state’s next lieutenant governor after Gov. Nikki Haley is confirmed as United Nations ambassador and Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster becomes governor. Leatherman will temporarily step down to allow Bryant to become president pro tem and then lieutenant governor. Goldfinch said Leatherman has the votes to be re-elected.

Goldfinch said the Senate changed rules to streamline the legislative process. He voted for all three rules, approved by the Republican Caucus. He said the rules essentially eliminate the minority report, limit the number of objections to a bill and restrict the filibuster.

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