District 56, the state House seat anchored in Carolina Forest, will have two options on voters’ ballots Tuesday.
Incumbent Tim McGinnis, a Republican, and Democratic challenger Bruce Fischer are vying for the seat, which McGinnis has held for nearly three years. A restaurant owner and former TV news anchor, McGinnis is just the second person to represent the district. The Carolina Forest resident was first elected to the post in early 2018 after former Rep. Mike Ryhal stepped down in the middle of his term. McGinnis was elected again later that year.
Fischer, a U.S. Army veteran and clinical psychologist, unsuccessfully ran for Congress in 2018. He lives in Longs.
Both men discussed issues facing the district at a Carolina Forest Civic Association forum last month.
McGinnis spoke about the need for better infrastructure and his support of local impact fees. When he was first elected, McGinnis said he was told the state impact fee law was too restrictive and needed to be reformed. However, he said he disagrees with that thinking now.
“The law doesn’t need to be changed,” he said. “That’s exactly what we need here. Horry County, to their credit, is now going through with it.”
McGinnis also talked about bills he’s planning to prefile that focus on water rates charged by municipalities. Some Carolina Forest residents receive water from the City of Conway and pay double the rate that city residents are charged.
“You’re paying way too much for water,” he said. “You’re paying double. … I don’t think it’s fair.”
Along with prohibiting cities from charging out-of-city residents more for water, McGinnis said the state needs legislation creating a board that gives non-city residents representation in decisions about local water rates.
“Right now, they have no one to turn to,” he said.
McGinnis has also been in discussions with HOA leaders about ways to lower the cost of lighting in developments served by Santee Cooper. Those communities have grown frustrated with having to pay for that infrastructure for decades.
“I would like to see some type of legislation that would prohibit them from making these deals that go in perpetuity,” McGinnis said. “Residents [are] paying for years and years on end for lights that were paid off years and years ago.”
Fischer’s platform focuses on improving local infrastructure, education and flood mitigation.
“What we need to do is listen to some real experts,” he said, adding that issues such as flooding and the COVID-19 response require input from knowledgeable sources, not politicians.
“Let’s listen to the experts, people who understand hydrology and stormwater mitigation, instead of listening to laypeople,” he said. “I don’t think that’s going to work real well.”
Fischer also has concerns about national issues, including gerrymandering and gun violence. Regarding the former, he would like to see an independent commission draw electoral districts.
“I’m a Democrat and I think the Republicans have gerrymandered too much,” he said. “Well, someday the Democrats might be in the majority and the Republicans would be saying, ‘You guys are gerrymandering too much.’ Let’s take the politics out of it if we can.”
As for firearms, he would like to see stricter background check requirements, particularly at gun shows.
“We’re not going to solve gun violence completely in this country,” he said. “Given the Second Amendment to the Constitution and how difficult it is to amend the Constitution, that amendment is going to stay there. I know that. I think you all know that. Nobody wants to take guns away from people, except in extraordinary circumstances.”
Along with those policies, Fischer supports expanding Medicaid so more South Carolinians can get health coverage. Some analyses have shown that nearly 200,000 people in the state could gain coverage through expanding Medicaid.
“I see no reason at all why anyone should not want to accept Medicaid expansions under the Affordable Care Act,” Fischer said.
Polls will be open from 7 a.m. until 7 p.m. Tuesday.