Horry County to consider letting Waste Authority contract with lobbyist

jrodriguez@thesunnews.comFebruary 11, 2014 

The Horry County Council will vote on whether to allow the Solid Waste Authority to spend up to $30,000 on a lobbyist to follow bills through the state House and Senate as they maneuver their way through committees.

The request comes a year after the county’s flow control lobbyist, and the Association of Counties’ lobbyist, put a halt to an 11th-hour attempt to make flow control a state law.

The county’s administration committee decided Monday to give a favorable recommendation to the full council to hire the lobbyist.

“There is a necessity for a lobbyist to keep an eye on certain things,” said Council Chairman Mark Lazarus. “We need somebody up there paying attention.”

Mike Bessant, governmental affairs director for the Horry County Solid Waste Authority, said an amendment was added to an electronic waste bill that would have overturned the county’s flow control ordinance, and if it wasn’t for the county’s lobbyist and the lobbyist for the Association of Counties, the bill and amendment would have passed. That, Bessant said, would have drastically impacted the revenue at the authority.

“There’s maneuvering going on all the time and you need to have somebody watching that maneuvering who really understands the process real well,” Bessant said. “We need somebody at the capital on a continuing basis to look at those amendments and laws. It might not deal with flow control, it could be dealing with something else.

“This lobbying is about issues that may affect how solid waste is handled in this state, which may affect the cost of doing business in Horry County.”

The 14-point scope of work the lobbyist will focus on includes monitoring the introduction of all bills in both the House and Senate to determine if they impact Horry County, work to pass an electronic waste bill which positively affects Horry County, and coordinate with the Conservation Voters of South Carolina, the Coastal Conservation League, the Sierra Club and the S.C. Wildlife Federation to identify initiatives that may affect Horry County.

The Solid Waste Authority says it would use tipping fees to fund the lobbyist and not tax dollars.

The authority has hired lobbyists in the past. It spent nearly $518,000 between 2009 and June 30, 2013, to defend its 2009 flow control ordinance, which restricted construction and demolition debris as well as municipal solid waste from leaving the county. Horry County Council has since repealed the construction and demolition debris portion of that ordinance.

Councilman Harold Worley, who also is chairman of the administration committee, said hiring the lobbyist is necessary.

“Until we get past some of this legislation that’s floating around out there, we need to keep up with this,” Worley said.

Contact JASON M. RODRIGUEZ at 626-0301 or follow him at Twitter.com/TSN_jrodriguez.

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