Looking back, then forward to work 'for the people'

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Weston Newton

2018 was an eventful year for the Newton clan. On the first day of session, we all decamped to Columbia for the presentation of the Wilkins Award for Legislative Excellence. My friend Paula Harper Bethea introduced me to the assembled multitudes, including a serious number of our friends, neighbors and legislative colleagues, for this award.

In many ways, I felt like I was being acknowledged by some of the giants of our state, in Ambassador David Wilkins and Secretary Dick Riley.

At the moment of receiving the award, I managed to make eye contact with my lovely wife, Rose. She nodded ever so slightly in an acknowledgement that I cherish above all other. It was a lovely evening.

As much as my public service is important to me, and I have been able to garner a certain following from my decade as chairman of Beaufort County Council, as well as my service as your Statehouse representative for District 120, Rose is the foundation of our family.

She is the daughter of the first female MBA graduate of the University of South Carolina. She is also a fairly recently elected board member of our state's flagship university, one of only two female members of the board.

She is also an elected member of the board of the South Carolina Bankers Association. Add that to being the onsite mom to three active, involved Newton children, I think you get the picture.

The legislative session has been dominated by the fallout from the recent debacle involving the abandonment of the VC Summer nuclear station. The legislature is struggling with how to protect ratepayers and taxpayers who will ultimately shoulder some of the burden for this corporate meltdown. Add this to the situation with the state-owned Santee-Cooper, also an investor in the VC Summer matter.

When we reconvene on the second Tuesday of the New Year, the General Assembly will have more than a full plate of issues to confront, including regulatory reform, constructing a rational approach to the opioid crisis, and revisiting the solar bill, which was sidetracked by questionable tactics from the regulated utility lobby. (Is it my imagination, or do well-paid lobbyists seem to run the show more effectively than elected representatives?) I, for one, am ready to get back to work on behalf of the people.

I received another award at the end of the year, on behalf of our Legislative Oversight Committee. This time, it was the Levin Award for Legislative Oversight. I went to Washington last month to accept the award from the Carl Levin Institute of Wayne State Law School. Again, I accepted on behalf of staff and leadership of the Legislative Oversight Committee.

Needless to say, it was gratifying to see that South Carolina is leading the charge for bipartisan, fact-based oversight of state departments, agencies, and commissions around the country.

Also, the ceremony was televised on CSPAN2. Your representative was a momentary hero to all the good government nerds around the country.

In truth, I only aspire to receiving the "OK Dad" award from all the smart folks who happen to live in the Newton household.

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

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