UPDATED: Changing business in Columbia

Last Wednesday, the House Regulations Subommittee convened to discuss ( for the third time ) a request from DHEC relating to Radioactive Materials Licenses Fee increases. Nathan’s News readers have already read about this situation in January and many responded via email to me about how we generally should handle fee increase requests.

One thing a few of my House colleagues and I have asked over the years is ‘why many times fee increases happen and only a handful of legislators are ever aware?’ The answer is ‘because regulations are not required to be debated in the Chamber.’ Traditionally, the subcommittee or full committee will “adjourn debate” and the regulations will take effect within weeks/months.

Some of us in the House want to change the process . Whether you agree or disagree with a fee increase, all members of the body should get a chance to vote. We should stop the days of only 5-20 members impacting our budget and business/individual pocketbooks.

I have the privilege this year of serving as the chair of this committee and hope you’ll view the 2 minute video.

For this request (as with most debates in Columbia) there seemed to be conflicting information. The agency stating that the program will be taken over by the feds (Nuclear Regulatory Commission) if we don’t approve the increase….and causing even higher fees than this request. Testimony from the NRC official, flown in from Washington to speak, seemed to indicate otherwise. His comments are at the end of the 2 minute clip.

The increase passed 3-2 and TODAY (March 1, 2011) will be debated in the full House Agriculture committee. If the full committee doesn’t dissaprove the regulation, I will ask that we send it to the full House floor for a vote from the entire body instead.

I’ll ask again, are all fee increases bad? This one was tough but when the NRC said the program was not in jeopardy of being “taken over”, it made my vote easier.

UPDATE: Today, the full House Ag Committee voted 10-6 (2 members not voting) against approving the regulation. This means, the regulation “dies”. It should be noted the vote was bi-partisan.