It seems like yesterday I was writing in this space about wrapping up sandbar Sundays and getting necessary back-to-school supplies for my grade school children.

This year, I am a week or so into having two in college and trying to adjust to having only one at home. I know it is part of the natural progression for them to move up and out, but coming home to a dark, mostly quiet house last Sunday after dropping our son at the University of South Carolina to start his engineering studies, I could not help but reflect on how quickly time has flown. How I wish that I had more of it with them wading in the May River.

We have been blessed to raise our three children in this incredible part of the world and I know no matter how far they go, they will always appreciate God’s natural creations. And for that, I know we have done at least part of our job correctly.

Late summer and early fall is generally not active from a legislative perspective, yet while we are not in session, there are significant activities in process, of which this Representative is a part.

We are in the beginning stages of the once-a-decade re-apportionment and redistricting process, following the most recent decennial census. I am the only representative from the First Congressional District serving on the House committee that will conduct public hearings across South Carolina and recommend a redistricting plan for the 124 House districts as well as the state’s  seven congressional districts.

Public input is an essential component to this effort, and I am pleased that, based on my involvement and at my insistence, one of the public hearings will be held at Bluffton High School Sept. 16 from 6 to 8 p.m. If possible, please make plans to come out and share your thoughts with us on what the state and federal districts should look like for the next 10 years.

Earlier this summer, I received an incredible honor from the Mother Emanuel AME Church in Charleston for my work on the Sen. Clementa Pickney Hate Crimes bill that passed the House with overwhelming support late in the legislative session. Several of my colleagues and I were recognized with the 2021 Emanuel Nine Humanitarian Awards.

As I have described on previous occasions, the bill is not a Republican or Democrat, black or white, Christian or Jewish, gay or straight issue. It is a penalty enhancement bill which does not create any new criminal offenses, does not restrict free speech or religious liberties, but protects each and every one of us from heinous violent criminal hate-based acts. It was long overdue in South Carolina.

Finally, I am pleased to report that for the fourth consecutive year, the Oversight Committee which I chair recently received a National Program Evaluation Society Impact Award for our work on modernizing laws and improving agency programs.      

It is an honor and privilege to continue to serve you in the House of Representatives. If I can be of service, please do not hesitate to reach out to me here or in Columbia.

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