Honoring veterans, and a project update

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Veteran's Day was well celebrated in Bluffton, with the annual parade sponsored by American Legion Post 205. As the parade stepped off smartly at exactly 10 a.m. on Saturday morning, spectators were regaled with patriotic music, floats and many of our neighbors' status as military veterans was recognized and celebrated.

It was a great morning, and festive in a way that was consistent with the gratitude and appreciation we all share for the defenders of our republic.

This year, the newly organized American Legion Auxiliary contributed an exceptional float, graced with a number of the local founding members of the Auxiliary.

In the bow of the float was a poised young lady in a gown and sash that identified her as "Miss Poppy," after the iconic flower of the Legion. Viewing a photo, I almost didn't recognize my youngest daughter, Eliza Rose.

This new look of dignified maturity will take some getting used to. My most persistent memory is of a tiny little girl, muddy and soaking wet, with missing front teeth, chasing our old lab across the May River Sandbar.

The following Friday was the dedication of the Bluffton War Memorial Monument, near Saint Joseph's Park in the Promenade. We owe a debt of gratitude to Ansley Manuel, for her efforts to research and consolidate all the local servicemen lost in the World Wars, Korea and Vietnam.

A united community needs a proper and inclusive remembrance of those lost defending our nation. Again, thanks to Ansley, as well as the Bluffton Chamber of Commerce, BHPS and all whose contributions made this monument an uplifting reality.

In legislative matters, this has been an eventful "off-season" between sessions. The cause for much of the activity stems from the abandonment of the unfinished nuclear energy project undertaken by SCANA, SCE&G and state-owned Santee-Cooper.

You might remember, some years ago, the legislature passed the Base Load Review Act, which was to help facilitate the project by, among other things, allowing the utilities to essentially bill customers for the power as yet not produced by the project.

With the abrupt end to the work, not only did 5,000 workers lose their jobs, the utilities had already collected and spent billions of those undue dollars from customers, and were hoping to collect even more to close the site.

Legislative leaders, and their constituents, were furious at what seemed a betrayal of trust. In response, Speaker Lucas appointed a committee to address the situation, which met frequently over the summer.

They recently submitted six bills to revamp the utility's ratemaking process, reform their collective oversight and authorize the repayment of customer's project-related rate hikes.

My Judiciary sub-committee is Constitutional Laws, which was assigned the package of bills. After poring over the measures, we passed it along to full Judiciary, which will likely have met before publication of this piece, and passed the package along to the full House.

The disposition of this matter by the General Assembly, and probably by the courts, will likely change how we in the legislature view the term "business-friendly."

Weston Newton is the representative for District 120 in the State House of Representatives.

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