Legislative delegation sworn in

Jason Evans/Courier
The Pickens County Legislative Delegation was sworn in Monday afternoon in Easley. From left, are Rep. Neal Collins, Rep. Davey Hiott, Sen. Thomas Alexander, Rep. Gary Clary and Sen. Rex Rice. Ruth Rice held the Bible for her husband as he was sworn in.

By Jason Evans
Staff Reporter

COUNTY — Legislative priorities for the Pickens County Delegation include roads and bridges, education and school safety.

The delegation was sworn in Monday afternoon at the delegation office in Easley. Easley Mayor Larry Bagwell administered the Oath of Office.

Rep. Davey Hiott, the senior member of the House delegation, welcomed the members. Hiott, Rep. Gary Clary and Rep. Neal Collins won re-election campaigns last week. Sen. Thomas Alexander faced no opposition in this year’s election. Rex Rice, a former state House representative, defeated Sen. Larry Martin in the primary race in June and faced no opposition in the general election last week.

“I look forward to serving with you,” Hiott said. “I’ve served with everybody here. Rex is back again. I look forward to his time in the Senate.”

Hiott said his priorities are roads and infrastructure.

“And rebuilding the coast after the hurricane,” he said.

He feels optimistic about something being done regarding infrastructure.

“I think there’s a major push from the leadership to try and make sure we try to do something with our infrastructure, our roads and bridges,” Hiott said. “It’s been in discussion for several years now. Hopefully this is the year we get something done.”

Alexander said the legislature “made some good strides” last year regarding infrastructure improvements.

One of his priorities is workforce development.

“I think we’ve got a lot of work to do in that area,” Alexander said. “I look forward to being involved in that, and other aspects of education, too, that are critical to us.”

The recovery from Hurricane Matthew is also a priority for him.

“We’re going to have the needs of those communities,” Alexander said.

Clary said legislators “have to come up with a continuous stream of income to develop the necessary funds to make the repairs that are needed” to the state’s infrastructure.

He wants to continue work on ethics as well.

“Hopefully we can pass legislation that would require legislators to reveal the amount of their income from outside sources,” Clary said.

He also wants to work on educational issues, particularly dyslexia, he said.

Roads are a priority for Collins as well.

“We have to find a long-term funding solution for our roads,” Collins said.

Other issues that concern Collins include the state’s foster care system and health care issues, as well as funding education in the wake of the state Supreme Court’s decision regarding educational funding in the state’s poor districts.

“I look forward to working on them,” he said.

Rice’s priorities include “making sure we’re properly funding the highway system — and properly managing it,” he said.

“We need to look at how it’s structured,” Rice continued. “I know there was a reorganization last year, but I think we need to take it a step further than that.”

School safety is another top priority, he said.

“How we deal with school safety at the local level and what we need to do in Columbia to help the sheriff’s office and the Pickens County School District and just school districts statewide,” Rice said. “It would really surprise me if we don’t see something to deal with school safety on a statewide basis. I think we need to be proactive here in Pickens County and come up with a plan that we believe fits Pickens County.”

Properly funding mental health and the school system are other priorities for him.

The delegation will hold a public meeting at 6:30 p.m. Monday, Jan. 9, at Six Mile Town Hall.