• US Energy Independence and SC Solar Job Creation

    “A good hockey player plays where the puck is. A great hockey player plays where the puck is going to be.”- Wayne Gretzky

    South Carolina must position herself where the puck is going to be.  As a native South Carolinian, the closest I ever got to hockey was playing street hockey with friends at the old basketball court in Hollywood Park, but I think we all understand the wisdom of Gretzky’s quote.  Whether by a state or federal renewable portfolio standard or an aspirational renewable energy goal, as South Carolinians the day is coming where a growing portion of our power will be from renewable sources.  We will either buy energy from renewable sources generated outside SC and support jobs in other states or SC will move to where the puck is going to be by ensuring a competitive environment for solar power and thereby attract our share of the $15 billion dollar industry.

    Our neighbor to the north, North Carolina provides a great example of what a State can do listening to the wisdom of Mr. Gretzky as applicable to the solar industry.  NC has provided for a Renewable Energy Portfolio Standard and a competitive tax structure for solar energy development.  As a result, NC now has 247 solar install companies and 59 solar manufacturers.  Among those companies is Argand Energy (www.ArgandEnergy.com), who closed its operations previously located here in Columbia and moved to NC where they have been recently named #8 of the Charlotte “Fast 50,” the fastest growing companies in the region.  In 2009, revenue from renewable energy and energy efficiency companies in NC reached $3.5 billion and 10,250 jobs.  Yet, NC gets less solar irradiance than SC and still NC gets 43% more output per megawatt installed than Berlin, Germany, which is the world leader in solar installs.  It is past time that SC position herself to keep and attract companies like Argand and keep those jobs here.

    Over the past year, I worked to draft, introduce and pass the House legislation that would make South Carolina more competitive in the solar market for businesses and residents.  As an author and co-sponsor of H3346, currently pending in the Senate the bill would simply place SC on equal footing with our neighbors to the north and south.  (Full text of H3346)  In our laser fast moving globalized world, it is not just about competing in our region, China has invested more than three times the $15 billion total US Solar industry in its pursuit of solar power dominance.  United Arab Emirates, home of to 8% of proven global crude oil reserves, one of the 10 largest oil companies in the world; and enough hydrocarbon reserves at current production levels to last 100 years, has invested $20 billion in Masdar City www.Masdar.ae.  UAE understands the power of energy independence despite its huge fossil fuel resources.  SC and our Nation must move to a diverse and decentralized power base, increasing our energy independence from foreign fossil fuel and strengthening our Nation.  Passage of H3346 gives SC the chance to compete against our neighbors and play an important role in US energy independence.

    To find out more check out the Solar Business Alliance website: www.SolarBusinessAlliance.com.  This is one of the many efforts I plan to continue to support public education, access to quality healthcare and economic development in South Carolina.  I am grateful for the privilege to serve you in the South Carolina House of Representatives and I will continue to work hard each day to merit your trust.  I can be reached directly by email or phone 803-933-9800 or the web www.JamesSmith.com.

    My very best to you and yours for a happy, healthy, prosperous and peaceful Summer 2012.

  • Making the smartest investments in children

    It has become commonplace to see South Carolina listed in the bottom five states on measures of child well-being. One in four children in South Carolina lives in poverty, a precarious situation that puts them at a much greater risk for some of our most costly social problems, such as child abuse and neglect and lack of school readiness. Forty percent of all cases of abuse and neglect occur among children ages 4 and younger, and one in five children is not ready for the first grade, according to the most recent figures from Kids Count.

    While policymakers don’t have a silver bullet to end poverty for all families, we know from decades of research that targeted early interventions can dramatically improve the situation. In a world of increasing demands on government, S.C. lawmakers should rely on evidence to focus our scarce state resources on programs that we know to be effective and efficient.

    A solid example of using the science of child development to craft smart policy is voluntary home visiting, which pairs at-risk families with trained professionals who provide vital information and support before birth and during a child’s first years of life.

    Evidence-based home-visiting programs can help break the cycle of abuse and violence and help prepare children for success in school. This proven strategy fosters stronger parent-child bonds and a safer and a more stimulating home environment, and increases children’s school readiness.

    Mothers receiving home visits from trained professionals are more likely to deliver healthy babies. Mothers as well as fathers who participate in home visiting also learn how to care for their babies during the critical period after birth — when children’s brains grow to 80 percent of their adult size, forming the brain architecture necessary for mental and social capacity. In these years, a child’s brain is twice as active as that of an adult and is soaking up the world around it, building vocabulary, learning skills and undergoing emotional and social development.

    Encouraging parental responsibility during these formative years through voluntary home-visiting programs has demonstrated great benefits to the children, reducing the incidence of low birth weight by 50 percent and child abuse and neglect by 80 percent. These programs also have been found to increase early literacy and math skills by an average of 82 percent and reduce arrest rates of children by age 15 by more than 50 percent.

    In South Carolina, we invested nearly $7 million in state and federal money in fiscal year 2010 on voluntary home-visiting programs for at-risk families. Unfortunately, we do not have a system in place to track results and determine the best practices necessary to achieve the highest quality outcomes.

    This year, I am co-sponsoring legislation that will ensure our home-visiting programs are the most effective and efficient they can be, by establishing a mechanism for data collection and comparison. H.4317 would direct funding to the most effective programs, strengthen standards and improve monitoring of each program’s outcomes.

    Armed with evidence, we will be able to ensure that scarce resources are being used to build strong families across the state through high-quality, voluntary home visiting for at-risk families.

    By Rep. James Smith
    Also published in TheState.com

  • Conservation Voters of South Carolina honor current and former legislators at the Green Tie Luncheon.


  • Rep. Smith responds to Governor’s announcment to reject Federal Recovery Dollars

    WIS Mid-Day Report 3/12/2009 Rep. James Smith

  • Camp Burnt Gin Protected


    “Camp Burnt Gin is a summer camp in Wedgefield, South Carolina, for children who have physical disabilities and chronic illnesses. From early June until mid August, Camp Burnt Gin operates five, seven day sessions for 7 through 15 year old children and two six day session for teenagers.” http://www.scdhec.gov/health/mch/cshcn/programs/cbg/

    In recent weeks the future of Camp Burnt Gin was in doubt due to budget cuts at DHEC.  Last week during the Budget Debate I offered the following Amendment which was unanimously adopted.

    Rep. J. E. SMITH proposed the following Amendment No. 105 (Doc Name H:\LEGWORK\HOUSE\AMEND\COUNCIL\NBD\ 11324AC09.DOCX), which was adopted:
    Amend the bill, as and if amended, Part IB, Section 22, DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH & ENVIRONMENTAL CONTROL, page 399, after line 8 by inserting an appropriately numbered paragraph to read:
    /22.__(DHEC: Camp Burnt Gin) Notwithstanding any other provision of law, the funds appropriated to the department pursuant to Part IA, or funds from any other source, for Camp Burnt Gin must not be reduced in the event the department is required to take a budget reduction./
    Renumber sections to conform.
    Amend totals and titles to conform.

    Rep. J. E. SMITH explained the amendment.
    The amendment was then adopted.

    This amendment will ensure that Camp Burnt Gin will be open this Summer.  I look forward to working with DHEC and Camp parents and families to ensure that the Camp remains viable for the future.

  • SC House Budget should seek to address SC priorities; Job Creation, Education and Healthcare

    Today, South Carolina House Democrats gather to call for action to meet South Carolina’s needs: job creation, education and healthcare.

    This budget represents a continuation of the failed policies of the past decade, budgeting for the next election campaign rather than for the next generation. This budget shows a lack of understanding by the republican ruling majority of the challenges that hard working South Carolina families face each day. Jobs - education - healthcare. South Carolinans need our state’s leaders to focus on these core priorities. And today, Democrats have come together, as we have done in the past, to urge this general assembly to make the right choices for South Carolina’s future.

    Job Creation: Employing Innovation and Technology for South Carolina’s Future.

    Investing in Alternative Energy Sources.
    Democrats will be offering amendments to the house budget that will provide increased tax credits for solar power and plug-in hybrid vehicles. Democrats will also be proposing a low interest loan program by cities and counties to support residential installation of solar power. These measures will not only help our environment, but help speed South Carolina down the path of energy independence. This is not just an environmental issue anymore. It is an issue of national security and South Carolina should take such action that would position our state as a leader in energy diversity. These measures will help to grow this market to establish a green economy with green jobs in the area of sales and installation.

    Improving South Carolina’s Infrastructure.
    Democrats will offer amendments to make it clear that South Carolina accepts the federal economic recovery support. South Carolina should make sure that the dollars received are leveraged to meet our state’s infrastructure needs and provide jobs.

    Appropriate Use of Economic Recovery Package
    Democrats have fought to reduce the cuts to local government which would have translated into increased property taxes and loss of essential services.

    With unemployment expected to reach 14% by the end of this year, the economic recovery package is predicted to create 50,000 new jobs as long as it is spent properly.

    Education: teaching for tomorrow, today.

    Modernizing Public Schools for the 21st Century
    All of South Carolina was proud to watch Ty’sheoma Bethea, an 8th grader from J.V. martin high school in Dillon, SC, tell the nation and the world she and her fellow students were not quitters. Democrats say South Carolina shall not quit on them. Democrats will support an amendment to provide an emergency school infrastructure bank. There is no place in South Carolina for a corridor of shame.

    Early Childhood Education
    Democrats believe at a minimum this budget should fully fund four-year-old kindergarten in the plaintiff’s counties. South Carolina can not afford, particularly in these challending times, to fail South Carolina’s children.

    High Quality Education = Protecting Teacher’s Jobs
    Democrats do not support republican efforts to retreat on the state’s commitment to high quality teachers by cutting the national board certification program. Democrats will fight to make sure that education remains a priority in South Carolina.

    Health Care: Affordable and Accessible Care for Hard Working South Carolinans.

    Medicaid Reform
    Democrats will fight to reduce provider fraud for medicaid reform that holds accountable those providers that are scamming the system fraudulently inflating costs for everyone.

    Small Business Incentives
    Democrats will fight for a cigarette tax that will provide small business assistance to meet the challenge of increasing health care costs for their employees while also expanding schips to 250% of poverty. A cigarette tax will also provide jobs and expand employment opportunities in healthcare.

    Better Access for Our Veterans
    All South Carolinans appreciate the service of our veteran’s and SC House Democrats believe South Carolina should be ready to take care of returning veteran’s to ensure they have the mental and physical healthcare needed. Our state agencies are already working together to assess the current state of healthcare services for our veteran’s. Democrats will introduce a proviso to support this effort, highlight its importance and establish a plan for handling any recommendations for change. Our veteran’s have never forgotten us and we shall not forget them and their service.

  • Patriot State Employees Fight to Save The Ship That Would Not Die

    Rep. James Smith with Paul Jeffers and General Tant

    Rep. James Smith with Paul Jeffers and General Tant

    The House paused last Wednesday to recognize the heroic efforts of South Carolina State Employees as they work 24/7 to Save the Ship That Would Not Die, USS Laffey (DD 724).  These Patriot State Employees work on the shoulders of and in the same honorable tradition as Laffey’s crews  have done throughout her venerable history.  May she continue to float at Patriot’s Point as a living reminder to all of the courage of our Nation’s tin can sailors who kept her afloat against impossible odds.  South Carolina is grateful for the courage of Patriot’s Point State Employees who fight to keep her afloat today.



    Whereas, the historic destroyer, USS Laffey (DD-724) supported not only the D-Day landings at Normandy on June 6, 1944, but also the United States offensive against Japan; and

    Whereas, while operating off Okinawa on April 16, 1945, the USS Laffey was attacked by twenty-two Japanese bombers and kamikaze aircraft; and

    Whereas, the USS Laffey survived this ferocious onslaught despite suffering direct hits from five of the suicide aircraft and three bombs; and

    Whereas, valiantly refusing to abandon their ship, the USS Laffey’s heroic crew shot down eleven of the attacking aircraft and saved the damaged ship, earning her the nickname, “The Ship That Would Not Die;” and

    Whereas, the USS Laffey was awarded the Presidential Unit Citation and five battle stars for her service during World War II and two additional battle stars during the Korean War; and

    Whereas the USS Laffey was added to the Patriots Point fleet in 1981, six years following her second decommissioning; and

    Whereas, a different enemy now threatens this venerable and stately ship, namely the corrosive effects of more than twenty-five years of active service at sea protecting our nation’s freedom and more than twenty-five years of additional service as a living memorial to the patriotism, courage, and sacrifices of America’s “Greatest Generation;” and

    Whereas, the destroyer Laffey has been under repair since December first when she began taking on water through her rusted hull; and

    Whereas, the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina wishes to express its gratitude to the many state workers and dedicated volunteers who are performing the essential and often dangerous repair work to save the USS Laffey. Now, therefore,

    Be it resolved by the House of Representatives, the Senate concurring:

    That the members of the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina, by this resolution recognize and commend the extraordinary efforts of the many state workers and volunteers who are working tirelessly around the clock to preserve the historic and gallant USS Laffey (DD-724) for her surviving veterans and countless admirers.

    Be it further resolved that a copy of this resolution be forwarded to

    Brigadier General Hugh Tant III, (U.S. Army Ret.), Executive Director, Patriots Point Naval and Maritime Museum.