Bobby Harrell and the Charleston Tea Party

 

It was a standing room only crowd at Charles Towne Landing last night as State House Speaker Bobby Harrell met with the Charleston Tea Party.

The meeting, which Tea Party leader Mike Murphree said was at Harrell's request, was a free-wheeling discussion where neither Harrell nor audience members attempted to side-step issues or hide their points of view on an issue.

Harrell opened with outlining a number of initiatives which passed the House, asking audience members "we have the largest House Republican majority ever, but what do we do with that majority". In the Question and Answer session that followed Harrell's opening remarks, the audience shared their views about what needed to be done.

Harrell opened up by outlining a number of accomplishments made by the Republican House, distributing a handout showing what had been accomplished since Republicans had taken over the chamber in 1994, including numerous tax cuts, managing to reduce state spending by nearly $2 billion since the budget's peak three year ago, and reduction of state employees by 8,000. He said the House would focus on working on restructuring, tort reform and charter schools in the upcoming session, and that Voter ID would be near the top of the agenda. Audience members greeted these agenda pledges with loud applause.

While he called for restructuring, he also pointed out "contrary to what some people are saying, the Governor does have power", identifying some of the numerous state agencies which the Governor appointed the heads of.

In contrast to the attacks made by some conservative activists against Harrell, the event was relatively trouble free. Audience members asked questions without making accusations or criticisms of Harrell, and in return, he answered their questions. The questions ranged widely, including the Voting Rights Act, medicaid, college tuition and salaries, term limits, party voter registration, and referendum legislation. Harrell was able to explain many details behind the issues, usually agreeing with the audience and regularly pointing out where he had sponsored or co-sponsored legislation on issues of concern.

Congressman Tim Scott also dropped in to update audience members, promising to visit with the group in the spring to discuss spending and the federal debt. He informed group members that he had signed on to co-sponsor two bills: Fair Tax-endorsed tax legislation and to repeal Obamacare. Audience members responded with loud applause to both.

Representatives Chip Limehouse and Mike Sotille were also there, as well as much of the Berkeley and Charleston County GOP leadership.

Harrell said this effort was part of an ongoing outreach effort with Republican and conservative groups around the state, telling the Blogland that he was "happy to do events like these, and I want to do more of them."

Given the productive atmosphere of the event, which was praised by a number of audience members who we talked with, hopefully we'll see more of these.

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