Posts Tagged ‘Rep. James Smith’

  • 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