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State House

South Carolina Lawmaker: ‘Cute Young Ladies’ Pushing Boater Safety Bill

“The lawmakers fall right in place …”

As South Carolina lawmakers return to the state capital in Columbia for the first day of an “emergency” extended session of the S.C. General Assembly this week, their primary focus is passing a new piece of pro-life legislation.

An amended version of S. 474 – which cleared the State Senate back in February – is up for debate in the House of Representatives on Tuesday. Our special projects director Dylan Nolan will be at the State House to track the first day of what is expected to be a lengthy debate on this issue.

Before House members get to this bill, though, they must determine their course of action on S. 96 – a piece of boater safety legislation that has already overwhelmingly cleared both chambers but is awaiting final approval in the House after being amended in the Senate.

Supporters are trying to get a final vote on the bill in the House, but powerful minority leader Todd Rutherford of Columbia, S.C. is blocking their efforts – with support from Republican lawmaker Phillip Lowe of Florence, S.C.

Readers may remember a recent guest column in support of this legislation by Randall Smith. They will also likely recall the impassioned efforts of Morgan Kiser, who appeared in our studios last February to tell the harrowing tale of what her family endured.

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To recap: Shortly before 9:00 p.m. EDT on September 21, 2019, Kiser and her parents – Stanley Kiser and Shawn Kiser – were headed home in Stanley’s new pontoon boat near Susie Ebert Island in Lake Murray just northwest of Columbia, S.C. when a Baja boat driven by Tracy L. Gordon of Elgin, S.C. slammed into them.

The crash killed Stanley Kiser and severely injured his wife. In fact, Shawn Kiser’s leg was amputated as a result of injuries she sustained in the collision.

Gordon was charged with reckless homicide in connection with Stanley Kiser’s death. He is free on bond as he awaits trial.

Since that fateful evening, Morgan Kiser has made the passage of new boater safety legislation her raison d’être. In pursuit of that goal, she has become a fixture at the S.C. State House and at political events across the Palmetto State. She has also made numerous media appearances – including two interviews with us. Through her organization, ‘Safe The Lake,’ she has been educating elected officials on the importance of boater safety and pushing legislation that would require watercraft operators born after July 1, 2007 to complete a training course administered by the S.C. Department of Natural Resources (SCDNR).

(Click to view)

Morgan Kiser with U.S. senator Tim Scott (Facebook)

Kiser has attracted plenty of attention in her new role – including from those eager to “kill” her preferred legislation.

In a post made last spring on the SCDucks.com website, representative Lowe – writing under the name “Duck Tape” – offered some interesting commentary on Kiser and her advocacy.

“When cute young ladies come to the legislature with a tragic story about a loved one who died in a boat accident, the lawmakers fall right in place,” he wrote.

Wait … what?

Take a look …

(Click to view)

Phillip Lowe comments on SCDucks.com. (Provided)

Notwithstanding his commentary on Kiser, Lowe actually makes some decent points regarding this legislation – which according to him requires watercraft operators “to have permission from the government to run your boat.”

On the other hand, though, he acknowledged its potential efficacy – noting “there are some studies that show it’s helpful in some states with boating accidents.”

In an interview with this news outlet on Monday afternoon, Lowe told me he opposed the legislation on constitutional grounds – arguing it imposed an undue burden on the rights of those who fish in South Carolina rivers and lakes.

“People who hunt and fish have not been the problem,” Lowe added. “They deserve unrestricted access to public water without asking government for permission. Hunting and fishing are protected by a constitutional amendment.”

Lowe also took issue with the bill’s “phase-in” language, which according to him is evidence of political calculation on the part of its sponsors.

“If the problems are so bad (and) if this is going to solve it, let’s have everybody do it,” he said. “But they know that is not popular. They know that sportsmen of the state don’t want it.”

(Click to view)

State representative Phillip Lowe (Facebook)

As for his description of Kiser, Lowe told me he merely referred to her as “an attractive young lady who had a tragic loss of her father and a severe injury to her mother.”

“I don’t think there’s anything derogatory about saying something nice about a cute young woman who is telling a tragic story,” Lowe said. “I mean, that’s not derogatory. Why would you even interpret that as derogatory?”

“They’re not all cute young women,” Lowe added, referring to boater safety advocates, “but the one that was the most aggressive about going to the meetings was cute. She was young, she had a severe tragedy in her family.”

Lowe told me he wasn’t trying to diminish Kiser or what she was going through, only to caution his colleagues against rushing to support a piece of legislation based on an emotional appeal.

“I thought was a very nice way to say that these folks when they come to you and they’re telling you about a tragedy, it’s hard for your heart not to go out,” Lowe said. “And you know – if you don’t think clearly about it before you know it you’re going, ‘yeah, well, yeah, I’ll support you’ and you haven’t thought it out.”

What do you think of Lowe’s remark? Vote in our poll and post your thoughts in our always engaging comments section below …

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    ABOUT THE AUTHOR ...

    Will Folks on phone
    Will Folks (Brett Flashnick)

    Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven children.

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    15 comments

    Here We Go Again May 16, 2023 at 9:57 am

    Every time someone experiences a tragedy, it seems there is no shortage of family or friends coming out of the woodwork to add complications to living your life or just enjoying it. Whether someone’s little princess was so drunk she got in a car with a questionable person who later killed her, or some other unfortunate thing, everyone will be expected to adjust their lives around irrational worries of their survivors.

    It is a rule of thumb that if a law cannot pass on its own merits and has to be named after somebody’s dead kid to evoke emotional response, it is probably going to be a suckey law that does little if any good.

    Reply
    Randall Smith May 21, 2023 at 3:50 pm

    To person that goes by the alias “Here We Go Again”

    From Insider Inc.

    “The Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act. On July 27, 1981, 6-year-old Adam Walsh was abducted in Hollywood, Florida. Three months later, some of his remains were found. Adam’s parents became leading victims’ rights activists and they fought for the passage of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, which significantly strengthened notification laws by increasing durations of sex offender status, increasing funding, and increasing penalties.”

    “Megan’s Law, the AMBER Alert Act In 1994, 7-year-old Megan Kanka from New Jersey was raped and killed by a known registered sex offender who had moved into the house across the street from her family. The family hadn’t been notified or informed that they’d been living across the street from a registered sex offender. After her death, the Kankas fought to have a law in place that would warn communities about sex offenders living in their neighborhood. Former President Bill Clinton signed the legislation into law in 1996 that stated all states were required to establish sex offender registries and establish community notification.”

    “Ryan White was 13 when he was diagnosed with AIDS after a blood transfusion in December 1984. Living in Kokomo, Indiana, doctors gave him six months to live.?When Ryan tried to return to school, he faced AIDS-related discrimination in his Indiana community. White and his family advocated against the stigma of the disease and for blood donations to be tested for HIV. President George H.W. Bush later signed “The Ryan White CARE Act” into legislation in 1990 (the same year as White’s death).”

    “Jacob Wetterling was just 11 years old when he was abducted and murdered in 1989. His killer wasn’t identified until 2016 when he was in custody for child pornography charges. The Wetterling Act required states to create sex offender registries, add a heightened class for “sexually violent predators,” require address verification, and provide procedures to protect the public.”

    “In 1996, 9-year-old Amber Hagerman was kidnapped while riding her bicycle in Arlington, Texas, and was brutally murdered. A mother in the area, Diana Simone, who had been following the publicized case, called the radio station asking if alerts could go out for missing children the way they did from the National Weather System. Dallas-Fort Worth broadcasters and local police took the idea to develop an “early warning system” to help find missing children. Other states began to create similar alliances, and in 2003, President Bush signed the PROTECT Act to give grants to states to set up similar systems, now known as Amber Alerts, in all 50 states.”

    In 1997, while fishing with his father, 11-year-old Drew Smith was killed by a drunk kindergarten teacher operating a boat. At the time, there was no boating under the influence law in South Carolina. The drunk kindergarten teacher could only be charged with manslaughter. Yet, if this had happened on the highway, she could have received as much as 25 years in prison instead of only 5 years for manslaughter. In 1999, “Drew’s Law” went into effect making the penalty the same for BUI and DUI resulting in death or serious bodily injury. I should know because I wrote that law. Drew is my son.

    I say to the person that hides behind the alias “Here We Go Again,” next time, think before you open your mouth and stick your foot in it. When you attempt to bolster your position by making a reference to “somebody’s dead kid,” just be thankful it is not someone describing YOUR son.

    Now, we will see if you have the balls to respond. Will you apologize or will you continue showing the entire world just how callous you are?

    Reply
    Anonymous May 16, 2023 at 10:41 am

    This will do nothing to promote safety only inconvenience the boating public and fork over more money to the state.

    Reply
    KFS May 22, 2023 at 8:22 am

    Responce to “Anonymous”

    Just a few years ago it was legal to sell bath salts and believe it or not in 1984 it was legal to drink beer while driving a car, but thankfully our legislators enacted new laws to deal with those problems. Were those laws needed? Every day our legislators have to deal with creating new legislation. But it is not easy to balance freedom with protecting the public. In this circumstance, is asking too much that a person at least knows the rules of safe boating before they hurt someone or themselves? Can you imagine what our highways would be like if no one had to pass a driving test? Thankfully, we have laws that responsible people accept because these laws were created to protect all of us.

    Reply
    medmondsm Top fan May 16, 2023 at 12:10 pm

    First of all, Mr. Lowe lives in the cesspool of the state where there are no real lakes (like Murray, Wateree, Hartwell, Moultrie). So his district likely doesn’t have to worry about drunk boat drivers who kill people. Secondly, his argument is that hunters and fisherman should not have the government’s permission to drive a boat. NEWS FLASH: You have to have the governments permission to drive a car (driver’s license), to go fishing (license required), and to go hunting (license required). Tell me more Mr Lowe…

    Reply
    Here We Go Again May 16, 2023 at 12:51 pm

    Yeah, so that somehow justifies the piling on of additional encumbrances at every turn. So many unfortunately have yet to understand that “government governs best, which governs least”.

    Reply
    medmondsm Top fan May 16, 2023 at 7:40 pm

    Yeah, you’re right. Let’s get rid of those pesky DUI laws for the roads too. After all, those DUI laws are an encumbrance on us people just trying to drive our cars and enjoy being drunk.

    Reply
    Anonymous May 17, 2023 at 9:34 am

    ???

    Reply
    Anonymous May 17, 2023 at 9:35 am

    Yes!

    Reply
    Michael Top fan May 17, 2023 at 8:23 am

    In a state with as much boat expertise as SC, it seems that someone could describe the most common boats used by fishing and hunting folks and exempt them from this law, This law is aimed at drunk idiots on the lakes and the ocean. They are there to party, not to hunt or fish.

    Reply
    Randall Smith Top fan May 17, 2023 at 9:38 am

    Contrary to what Phillip Lowe has to say, most fishermen and hunters are fed-up with people that do not know a D@*$ THING about how to operate a boat. How many times have you been out fishing and here comes some nut on a jet ski acting as if they were a kamikaze pilot or, better yet, those waving at you from their pontoon boat as they almost run over you? I am not a duck hunter, but I will bet you they have the same problems. You wonder why the rest of the country looks at us as dumb, stupid rednecks. Just look no further than Phillip Lowe.

    Reply
    Randall Smith Top fan May 17, 2023 at 2:25 pm

    In defense of my wife, it is simply amazing how Phillip Lowe keeps digging his own grave. But some people just don’t know when to shut up. If his comments in the interview were directed toward my wife, “They’re not all cute young women,” I did not think he was funny at all. When he cannot defend his position against the Boating Safety Bill, he then deflects by degrading the Bill supporters who are not paid lobbyists, just everyday citizens.

    “They’re not all cute young women,” Lowe added, referring to boater safety advocates, “but the one that was the most
    aggressive about going to the meetings was cute.”

    If I thought it would do any good, I would file a complaint with the House leadership. But now he has crossed the line and all bets are off. He would be wise to call former Greenville Rep. Daniel L. Tripp and ask him what the House leadership did to him after he insulted me in the lobby of the State House, unaware of a local TV station filming him pitching a temper tantrum. Tripp had to apologize to me in front of the entire House as I stood in the balcony of the House Chamber.

    Reply
    Jerry May 17, 2023 at 10:20 pm

    Lowe attempting to diminish the substance of the bill by linking anyone’s physical characteristics to those supporting the bill is really lame.

    Reply
    KFS May 21, 2023 at 2:36 pm

    Could not have said it any better.

    Reply
    Ron May 18, 2023 at 8:30 am

    Morgan Kiser’s mother Shawn lost a leg above the knee and almost bled out. Morgan saved her mother’s life by taking her own dress off and fashioning a tourniquet out of it. Her father was killed in a gruesome fashion in the same accident which involved a boater charged with BUI running a cigarette boat over their pontoon boat on 9/21/2019.

    FITS NEWS should post the latest video of Rep Lowe R of Florence in the State House chambers in which he extols the joys of seeing how fast one can go in a cigarette boat while drinking and with the radio blaring.

    He must be the most insensitive lout in the House, a mean spirited ass purposely trying to hurt the Kisers or perhaps had himself been drinking shortly before his grand speech.

    SNL could not come up with a better sketch depicting a blowhard small time politician.

    The incident involving the Kisers would not have been prevented by a Boater Safety course and under this proposed bill, Tracy Gordon, the man driving the boat that killed and injured the Kisers ,would not have been required to take the course. However, the goal is to improve overall boater safety and inform boaters on proper behavior and rules on the water.

    46 states have Boater Safety laws. SC already requires anyone under 16 to take a Boater Safety course. This bill will slowly capture more boaters as it will apply to anyone born after 6/30/2007.

    Since Lowe is so concerned over the rights of sportsmen being infringed upon by this proposed bill, he should immediately offer a bill repealing Hunter Education which applies to anyone born after 6/30/1979.Furthermore, most people don’t hunt or fish on their own property and require driving a vehicle to reach their destination. Perhaps he should offer another bill to repeal that pesky DL requirement.

    I’ve been hunting and fishing since I was in elementary school. I generally lean against bigger government intrusion into our lives, but this is a common sense law that will not affect any adult of age at this time. Seeing some of the idiocy on the waters of this state performed by people who absolutely don’t know what they’re doing makes me a supporter of the bill.

    In full disclosure, Shawn Kiser is my sister in law and Morgan is my niece. I was raised in Florence and still have parents and a sister there.

    After watching Lowe make an absolute fool of himself in the State House I can only hope he had been drinking when he made that speech about chicks, beer flowing and seeing how fast the cigarette boat could go.

    This is a very modest bill, not a radical change in the law and is something that I don’t find a good rationale to be against.

    Lastly, Lowe in my opinion appears to be a self absorbed small time politician in love with his own voice. The residents of his district deserve better than him.

    Reply

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