McLeod forecasts new session for chamber

Blythewood Chamber director Phil Frye, left, and Chamber president Matt Cunningham welcome guest speaker Senator Mia McLeod. | Barbara Ball

BLYTHEWOOD – Speaking at the Blythewood Chamber’s monthly breakfast meeting Tuesday morning, State Sen. Mia McLeod, who represents a portion of Blythewood 29016, talked about some of the issues the legislature will address in the new session.

“But it doesn’t start until noon today, so I don’t have as much information as I would have later today,” she quipped.

“It’s going to be crazy, but some of the issues we can look forward to debating include Santee Cooper and whether or not to sell or to manage the state-owned utility. The governor has openly expressed his desire for us to sell,” McLeod said. “It’s going to be a big issue for us. I can’t tell you what we will decide, but I can tell you that it’s going to take up a considerable amount of time.”

Asked about an estimated timeline for reaching a conclusion on a sale, McLeod said she couldn’t say.

“I thought we would be further along with this than we are at this time,” she added.

She said she is unsure how many companies are still seeking to purchase Santee Cooper, but would learn more later that day.

“Another issue we’ll face is the Public Service Commission and the fact that Palmetto Utilities had an increase in 2017, and they are now asking for another increase which is unbelievable. I hope we have some way to be sure that public service commissioners do their jobs. I’m just not confident that politics and some other things are not at play. This is having a negative impact on our rate payers,” McLeod said.

“We’ve also got to figure out how we’re going to spend this $1.8 billion surplus,” she said.

A proponent of education, McLeod said she will be working hard on the education reform bill.

“Teachers are telling me it doesn’t offer what they need,” McLeod said, and at this time she said she intends to vote against it.

As for health care, McLeod wants better access.

“I think we forfeit a lot in terms of protecting those with health conditions and protecting our working poor, who would really benefit by us expanding Medicaid.”

McLeod said she also hopes to promote workforce development, an important component for attracting new business to the state.

She says a pet peeve is that the legislature wastes a lot of time.

“We convene at noon, and we have back to back meetings and conferences and everything you can imagine before that,” she said. “But then we might be done by 1-o’clock. That’s hardly what we should be doing.”

“This session will be very telling as to how we approach it with regard to our time,” McLeod said.