Letters to the Editor

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Congrats and thanks to Weston Newton
I would like to express congratulations and appreciation to Weston Newton on his election to the S.C. House of Representatives. He has served Beaufort County for the past 12 years as Chairman of County Council. As a former member of County Council, I laud Weston for his leadership of the many competing issues in Beaufort County.
I happened recently to watch the County Public Service TV channel and saw the documentary on “The Beaufort County Rural and Critical Lands Program.” When I served on council, we passed the legislation for this program. In the ensuing 12 years, Weston has guided the county in such a way that this program is outstanding in accomplishment. His leadership in many other areas, such as financial stewardship and accountability, has been laudatory. It takes a team of elected and appointed officials as well as excellent staff to be successful. Weston Newton has provided thoughtful leadership.
We will miss him greatly on the council level, but he now goes to the state level with a solid background in what challenges the local governments face. He will carry forth his experience and leadership to the Statehouse for which we will continue to be indebted to him and to his family for their sacrifices to the public good.
Elizabeth P. Grace
Beaufort

Local efforts help pass human trafficking bill
On June 18, Governor Nikki Haley signed a new law to address human trafficking, a lucrative, secretive and brutal criminal enterprise that occurs throughout the world, including the United States.
Her signature culminated months of hard work to bring South Carolina out of what a national organization had termed “the dirty dozen,” states without adequate laws to address exploitative labor practices and forced prostitution.
For the first time, our legislature has clearly defined the crime of human trafficking and has convened a task force to implement a comprehensive strategy for combating it. Among the many changes to state law, the courts can now seize assets from people convicted of human trafficking and the offender can be required to pay restitution to his or her victims. An extra 15 years of prison time can be tacked on if the victim of the crime is under 18-years-old.
Many of the lobbying efforts for this important piece of legislation occurred at a grassroots level. Members of the Lowcountry Coalition Against Human Trafficking and citizens across the state lobbied the legislature in-person and from afar. We would like to especially thank state Sen. Tom Davis, state Rep. Shannon Erickson and state Rep. Andy Patrick for co-sponsoring the bill and for guiding it to passage. We are also grateful to Solicitor Duffie Stone for his public support of the bill and for working tirelessly for its approval.
This law empowers investigators, prosecutors and the court system to root out and address human trafficking, but it will be up to all of us to learn the signs of this horrendous crime, to report it to the proper authorities and to help the victims rebuild their lives.
Janice Dyer
President, Lowcountry Coalition of Human Trafficking