Staff reports | Our weekly Top Five feature offers big stories or views from the past week with policy and legislative implications.
1. Kimpson unveils economic plan for S.C. families, WCBD TV, Feb. 8, 2017
Here’s a look at the impact of bills (see Tally Sheet) introduced this week by S.C. Sen. Marlon Kimpson, D-Charleston, to try to help working families through a state Earned Income Tax Credit similar to a federal one and by making more affordable housing available. Kimpson also has proposed to tax online purchases. An excerpt of the tax credit story:
“I’m a supporter of incentives to lure new companies and keep businesses in South Carolina, but it’s also about time we level the playing field for working families and the middle class so South Carolinians can earn enough to care for and support their families, afford a home, have access to quality, affordable health care, and be able to retire securely,” said Kimpson.
2. Lots of states considering gas tax hikes, Reuters, Feb. 8, 2017
Low gas prices and the need to fix roads is breathing life into efforts in 21 states, including South Carolina, to raise gas taxes this year. An excerpt:
Alaska, Oklahoma, Mississippi, South Carolina and Tennessee – all of which voted for U.S. President Donald Trump in November – are debating gas tax increases in their state legislatures right now.
“As funds and their purchasing power have been depleted over the last few decades, states are coming to realize they have to raise revenues to maintain the transportation assets they have,” Kevin Pula, a policy specialist at the National Conference of State Legislatures, told Reuters.
S.C.’s $100 million nuke claim dismissed – for now, ABC News/AP, Feb. 9, 2017
A federal judge says South Carolina’s $100 million claim in fines to the federal government for not meeting production goals at the Savannah River Site have been shut down for now. U.S. District Judge Michelle Childs ruled that the proper venue for the state’s monetary claims is the U.S. Court of Federal Claims. She added that the state and feds have until July to mediate their claims on other aspects of the lawsuit. An excerpt from the story:
South Carolina sued last year, in part demanding the federal government keep its promise to pay $1 million in fines per day — up to $100 million yearly — until either the facility meets its [mixed oxide] production goals or the plutonium is taken elsewhere for storage or disposal.
4. Deploy broadband nationally to make America great, Blair Levin in Brookings, Feb. 7, 2017
This is the first of three posts that argue that to “make America great,” the country needs to have ubiquitous broadband with an infrastructure that quickly ramps up to address infrastructure shortfalls. An excerpt of seven strategies:
Building broadband infrastructure, as with any infrastructure, raises three questions: how to finance it, what projects are eligible to receive the funding, and how the funds are distributed. As to the first, the Trump campaign laid out an approach that essentially uses market tax credits to promote private-sector investment in infrastructure. Ironically—at least to me—the approach is structurally similar to the framework for financing next-generation communications and clean energy networks that Reed Hundt and I proposed in our 2012 book, The Politics of Abundance, though there are some significant differences in details.”
5. How post offices can help fight food insecurity, Krutika Pathi in The Atlantic’s CityLab, Feb. 8, 2017
Here’s a proposal for post offices to fight food insecurity in Los Angeles, but why couldn’t it work everywhere? An excerpt:
The problem [with effectively dealing with food insecurity] lies in storage and distribution. “There’s a disconnect,” says L.A. Food Policy Council’s Iesha Siler. “Nonprofits trying to tackle food insecurity don’t have a shortage of food—but it’s not in their business model to have trucks go pick up tons of food waste and then distribute it.”
After speaking with numerous hunger-relief agencies and food banks in Los Angeles, two major issues stood out to the students. “It came down to lack of warehousing space and storage and not having vehicles or volunteers to transport the food to the people who need it,” says Anu Samarajiva, a graduate student on the winning team who is studying architecture and urban design. Most people who are food insecure are also located in low-income areas, further burdened by food deserts, which makes transportation of goods all the more important.