Bill-signing first pen goes to the Smiths!

The South Carolina Governor turned to a Clemson family and expressed the hope a new law will give them peace. Governor Nikki Haley made Seneca’s Gignilliat Community Center a stop on her visit to Oconee County to celebrate a new law designed to improve the health and save the lives of babies born with heart defects. The law is named for Susan and Jason Smith’s deceased infant daughter. Emerson Rose Smith lived only 76 days and died of a heart defect unknown to her parents. But, the Smiths accepted what happened as a calling to help others. Through a foundation, they raised money. And, with the help of Oconee-Pickens Senator Thomas Alexander, the Smiths pursued the legislation that today is the Emerson Rose Act. It requires South Carolina hospitals to test infants within 48 hours of their birth for heart defects. Haley, the mother of a young child, expressed empathy for the couple. The ceremonial bill signing turned into a surprise for Senator Alexander. He was given a trophy by a South Carolina Heart Association leader, proclaiming the senator a legislative champion for steering through a bill that got bi-partisan support in the spirit of helping those too young to help themselves.