The Beaufort County Legislative Delegation showcased its extraordinary ability to get things done during the two-week abbreviated session of the General Assembly that ended Thursday, Sept. 24.

In the waning days of the 2020 legislative session, the Beaufort Delegation played major roles in shepherding legislation through the General Assembly that:

  1. Postpones for one-year the Dec. 31, 2020, deadline for local governments to complete comprehensive land use plans. We worked with Beaufort County Councilman Paul Somerville on this policy since COVID-19 has impeded the public input vital to the planning process. The change enables Beaufort County and other local governments across South Carolina to produce comprehensive plans that will enhance our quality of life.
    The amendment was attached to a Senate bill co-sponsored by Senator Campsen that authorizes the use of local hospitality tax revenue for flood mitigation – another important policy prescription in the flood-prone Lowcountry.

  2. Extends the period property owners have to redeem properties sold at tax sales, from one year to two. This helps property owners struggling financially during the pandemic to keep their property. It is especially important for heirs property owners. We worked with Beaufort County Treasurer Maria Walls to get the policy right.

  3. Establishes a state Resiliency Office and Resiliency Fund to manage, finance and mitigate nuisance flooding, storm surge and sea level rise.

  4. Authorizes voters to vote via the regular absentee voting process during the general election due to the COVID-19 state of emergency – just like we did for the primary.

This level of success at the tail-end of the legislative session is virtually unheard of. It is attributable to the experience, seniority and comity among delegation members, and our close working relationships with Beaufort County officials and Governor Henry McMaster. We worked as a team – and delivered for Beaufort County.

We extend our sincere appreciation to our colleagues, Senators Tom Davis and Marjorie Bright-Matthews; and Representatives Weston Newton, Michael Rivers, Bill Herbkersman, Shedron Williams, and last but not least our Chairman Jeff Bradley.

Beaufort’s final victory came from beyond the House and Senate Chambers in Columbia. It occurred on the shores of Port Royal Sound.

We have worked for months with Councilman Paul Somerville and others in opposition to the development of Bay Point. Thursday – on the last day of the Legislative Session – the Beaufort County Zoning Board of Appeals rejected the developers Special Use Permit application. This effectively stopped the development.

In rejecting the application, the Board cited our Aug. 19 letter as establishing reasonable cause to reject the development plan. One of the last remaining undeveloped Lowcountry barrier islands will remain in its pristine state.

It was a good couple of weeks for Beaufort County. We consider ourselves blessed to have been part of it.

Senator Chip Campsen (R-District 43) represents Beaufort, Colleton and Charleston counties in the South Carolina Senate. Representative Shannon Erickson (R-District 124) represents Beaufort County in the South Carolina House of Representatives.