The legislature returned to Columbia on the second Tuesday in January with a Republican majority in the House, Senate and a Republican governor eager to champion many conservative causes before the close of the General Assembly’s two-year session in May. This year, I am not only dedicated to achieving the goals below, but I will continue to value and promote conservative, common sense planning and preparedness.

Five important items that my Republican colleagues and I set out as our Republican Caucus Agenda for 2022 include: (1) completing the once-a-decade redistricting process to accommodate for population shifts and ensure fair representation for everyone in our state; (2) wisely, prioritizing budgeting and spending the several billion Federal dollars being sent to South Carolina to give our state a much-needed infrastructure facelift with a focus on our roads, highways, water, sewer, and broadband connectivity; (3) cutting taxes for the hard working people of South Carolina; (4) passing legislation that creates uniformity and consistency in the way elections are run in this state and ensures every legal vote is counted, making it easier to vote but harder to cheat; (5) giving parents more choice in how to best educate their children with the adoption of  Education Savings Accounts with low-income families having more access to educational options.

The last week of January, Gov. Henry McMaster quickly signed legislation setting a new map for the state’s U.S. House seats. The plan makes minimal changes to the seven current congressional districts that have fairly served the state over the past decade and which were confirmed by the U.S. Justice Department and survived a number of lawsuits in federal court. This plan keeps Beaufort County in the same congressional district with Charleston.

Over the past few weeks, the budget writers have been busy with subcommittee hearings for both the federal COVID money as well as the annual appropriations bill. During the governor’s State of the State Address, he introduced highlights from his proposed executive budget which he would like to see included in the state budget.

I share many of these sentiments and will work hard to promote a spending plan that includes the construction, expansion and improvement to our state-owned roads, bridges, highways and interstates, tax cuts on all income tax brackets, a “rainy day” relief fund and reserves for future economic uncertainties, pay raises for teachers, and fully funding law enforcement, public safety and other first responders.

During his address, the governor also took time to discuss election integrity and the legislation to standardize and ensure the uniform and legal conduct of elections in all 46 counties, as well as the importance of parental choice and Education Savings Accounts. I believe we will take bold steps to move South Carolina forward in this session and look forward to being a part of it.

On the personal front, serving in elected office often means time away from family, which I have experienced over the years. However, with two of my children at the University of South Carolina, I am sometimes able to grab a visit that otherwise might not be possible.

I was privileged to watch both of them participate in Carolina Day at the statehouse, a day of advocacy for students, parents, faculty and alumni promoting our flagship university. Each of us has a civic responsibility to give back our time and talents. Rose and I have tried to instill this in our children. It was a gift for me to watch them be a part of the process.

It is an honor and privilege to serve you in the House of Representatives. Please do not hesitate to contact me here or in Columbia.

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