SC General Assembly passes CARES Act funding

By a vote of 43 to 0 in the Senate and 109 to 2 in the House, the South Carolina General Assembly signed off on the allocation plan for a bulk of the CARES Act money the state is receiving from the federal government for COVID-19 response.

Below is description of the appropriations. We agreed to hold more than $600 Billion to see what transpires over the coming months.

UPDATE: Koon Road Bridge opening

Earlier today the SCDOT contacted me to let me know the Koon Road Bridge should be open by July 4th!

Appreciate everyone’s patience!

Reminder – Tax Day July 15th

From the SC Department of Revenue website:

We are offering additional time to file and pay to assist taxpayers during the COVID-19 outbreak.

Income Taxes: We are aligning with the IRS and extending the filing and payment due date for Income Taxes due April 1 – July 15 to July 15, 2020. This includes the April 15 Individual Income Tax due date and estimated payments due June 15.

Dunn to face Dick Harpootlian November 3rd

Early Wednesday morning, the SC Senate District 20 Republican primary election was called for Benjamin Dunn. The unofficial tallies show Dunn with 71.52% of the vote as he now looks forward to the general election in November.

On Wednesday morning, Benjamin Dunn stated,

I am humbled by, and incredibly thankful to, the voters of Senate District 20. Representing you as the Republican Party’s nominee this November is an amazing honor and I will work tirelessly to justify the trust you have placed in me.

I would also like to congratulate Randy Dickey on running a great campaign. Randy is an asset to this community and his willingness to serve demonstrates his commitment to making the Midlands a better place for all our families.

Benjamin Dunn will face Democrat Senator Dick Harpootlian in the general election on November 3rd.

For more information on Benjamin Dunn, please visit

Zoning UPDATE: County Council votes June 23rd

Even though the Richland County Planning Commission voted to NOT recommend the proposals for the “Broad River Road/Kennerly Road/Freshly Mill Road” parcels, County Council still has final say so whether to approve or not.

Here is previous article with that I know about the proposal.

As always, our vote on these matters is through County Councilman Bill Malinowski. Please let Bill (or other council members) know your thoughts.

Who knew? Covid-19 IgG Positive

As memorable as 2020 has been for all of us, today is another day that will always stand out. After a simple 10 minute finger-prick test in West Columbia, I tested positive for Covid-19 IgG antibodies.

It’s certainly good news knowing that I may be able to help doctors with any studies for the pandemic and perhaps be able to give plasma with antibodies to those who are severely ill trying to beat the virus. It’s also curious to me because somewhere, in my past, I must have come in contact with the virus. The nurse says it may have been months ago, but it was all news to me.

Looking back, I remember in January when Karen and I kept JC (our son) out of school for about a week. He had a fever, aches, and other symptoms associated with the flu; but he tested negative for the flu and negative for strep. We thought that was strange and didn’t know what he had, but he got better after that week. Life moved on and then several weeks later, the world learned of Covid-19. All during that time I never felt a thing, but I had a lingering sense that maybe JC had it and maybe I might have had it.

Over the past several weeks, the state closed down, the State House went on a break, and like many fortunate to still have work – I worked from home. Again, I never had any symptoms, but when I think back there were a few days where I thought my allergies were bugging me. Minor aches…never felt feverish. Was my body reacting to the virus? Who knows? Nothing really caught my attention and I was even still running a few miles at least once a week since January.

The reality was I think I might had been asymptomatic. I never felt a thing.

Karen, JC and Emma will get tested later this week. If they have antibodies, I am pretty sure we would have all passed it around some time during the “lockdown.” None of us have had any of the symptoms and hopefully we weren’t around people during whatever time we may have been active with the virus.

Everything happens for a reason and today was another example. Had Richland County not botched another election, reporters probably wouldn’t have sought me out. But they did and one of those reporters and I also happened to talk about Covid. I shared with him my desire to eventually get tested, just to get rid of any lingering doubts and see if maybe this virus could have been around earlier than reported. Maybe back in January when my son was sick. The reporter let me know about a local facility where you can walk in, sign up, get tested with finger prick, and 10 minutes later you would know if you have the antibodies.

He was right and that’s exactly what I did this afternoon. If you’re curious like I was, or obviously if you have any symptoms, it’s easier than I thought to now get tested.

And if DHEC and others get my data and want me to donate blood or join a study, sign me up. God obviously has something in mind that I never did!

Statement on yesterday’s primary elections

I was so fed up yesterday evening I fired this off in a series of tweets.

“As I do every election, I spent time today visiting polling locations in our community and thanking the volunteers. From my visit and conversations with the poll workers, as well as the voters waiting in line, it’s apparent we still have issues in Richland County.

While I look forward to the report from the election commission and the election office, I know what I’ve seen first-hand today. Too few staff. Too few equipment. Too many problems.

Certainly, this pandemic affected the number of volunteers; however, when names of volunteers from the South Carolina State Guard are given to your county election office, and those volunteers are not contacted, it makes me question the judgment of the office.

When FIVE large precincts are combined into one location and only two keyboards to sign-in voters are sent to the poll, it makes me question the judgment of the office.

For these reasons and more, I call on the Richland County Election Commission to move swiftly to hire a permanent director. I also call on my Richland County delegation members to move swiftly to help me and Representative Finlay appoint a Republican to the vacant seat on the commission.

My colleagues and I are tired of this constant struggle on behalf of our voters and it is absolutely imperative the Richland County Voter Registration & Elections Officer and the Election Commission review what went right and wrong and fix any issues long before the November elections are here. “

Vote! Tuesday, June 9th – local primaries

While I do not have a primary opponent tomorrow, please know that there are many other very important primaries and elections for our community!

Be sure you know where you will be voting tomorrow as many polling places were consolidated because of Covid-19 concerns.

You may wish to click below for a list of contested races in the area and other areas in the Midlands (note: Richland residents do not have a County Council race tomorrow. Only Lexington County residents).

Primary Voter Guide: Here’s what Lexington, Richland voters need to know (From The State)

District Five Graduations – a nice touch!

Weeks ago when the pandemic led to the closing of our school facilities, I worried how the graduating seniors would be recognized for their years of hard work and achievement.

After hearing from many of you, I reached out to Superintendent Melton. She and others sought input from parents and others and the result was a memorable one for the Class of 2020.

Every year since I was elected, I make a point to arrange my schedule so that I can attend as many (if not all) of the graduations. For the past 15 years, that’s meant spending most the day (or two) coming/going from the Colonial Center. It’s always impressive to see our students and family in the big arena…..but this year’s ceremonies were on campus and on school fields.

Keeping in line with social distancing protocols, etc, District Five did a great job for each of our high schools.

Photos above were taken at Dutch Fork ceremony. Other photos can be found on my Twitter and Facebook pages.

SC General Assembly to return to State House

Pursuant to the Sine Die Resolution, Speaker Jay Lucas will call the House of Representatives into session on Wednesday, June 24, 2020 at 1:00 p.m.

The matters to be taken up and considered are limited to items in the Sine Die Resolution, but the primary focus for these session days will be the appropriation of the CARES Act funds.

Only House Staff and Members will be allowed in the House Chamber. Media will be allowed access to the Chamber pursuant to standard House rules and policies. The House Chamber will be thoroughly cleaned and hand sanitizer will be available at multiple locations in the Chamber. Pages and law clerks will not be returning to work at this time. Please note that the public will be allowed access to the Blatt Building.