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ISSUE 11.31
Aug. 03, 2012

12/12 | 12/05 | 11/28 | 11/21


News :
What's behind surprising finding
Legislative Agenda :
A couple of meetings to note
Palmetto Politics :
New school grading system debuts
Commentary :
Sales tax holiday: It's a gimmick
Spotlight :
Time Warner Cable
My Turn :
Why antebellum Society adds to liberty
Feedback :
Sign your letters
Scorecard :
Powering up; chickening outed; slowing down
Stegelin :
Revving back up
Megaphone :
Gr8 hedlion
Tally Sheet :
Find legislative bills
Encyclopedia :
Benjamin Guerard, governor, 1783-85

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That’s the percentage of how many state public K-12 schools received a “passing” grade of at least a “C” from federal authorities. More.


Gr8 hedlion

“The peeple have spokun, eat mor liberals”

-- Headline for an editorial about Chick-Fil-A controversy in the Florence Morning News. More.


Find legislative bills

This year's legislative session may be over, but you can still find information about bills and new laws online through the links below.


Benjamin Guerard, governor, 1783-85

Benjamin Guerard, the son of John Guerard and Elizabeth Hill, was baptized in Charleston at St. Philip’s Church on May 23, 1740. The exact date of his birth is unknown. Both his father and grandfather were wealthy Charleston merchants, planters, and public servants. As such, Guerard enjoyed a privileged upbringing and went to England in 1756 to study law at Lincoln’s Inn. He was admitted to the South Carolina Bar on January 9, 1761, and set out to follow in the footsteps of his forebears. On November 30, 1766, Guerard married Sarah Middleton. Their marriage was childless.

Guerard represented St. Michael’s Parish in the Commons House of Assembly from 1765 to 1768, but spent most of the late 1760s and early 1770s in litigation involving him as the executor of the vast estates of his father and Middleton in-laws. During the Revolutionary War, Guerard lent over {L}20,000 to the state and served in the militia. After Charleston fell to the British in May 1780, Guerard and other prominent Carolinians were held captive on the prison ship Pack Horse. While a prisoner, Guerard attempted to raise funds for the relief of his fellow captives and offered his estate to the British as security. Since the estate had been confiscated, the gesture was rejected by the British but was not soon forgotten by those Guerard had tried to help.

Although he maintained a town house in Charleston, by 1778 Guerard listed St. Helena’s Parish as his legal residence and the remainder of his public career was associated with this place. Between 1779 and 1786, Guerard represented the parish four times in the General Assembly: three times in the state House of Representatives and once in the state Senate.

In early 1783, Guerard was elected governor by the General Assembly, many members of which were ex-prisoners of war. As governor, Guerard pledged to lead South Carolina “from the Calamities of the uncommonly cruel War” into the “Return of the Blessings of Peace.” The task he faced was daunting. South Carolina was deeply in debt and its population, stewing in old war animosities and class antagonism, was badly divided. The governor sought to suppress outlaws plaguing the backcountry and to provide “some small relief” for Charleston’s poor. He also led the move to incorporate Charleston in 1783.

But while taking a conciliatory stand on most issues, other actions made Guerard some powerful enemies. In an address to the General Assembly on February 2, 1784, he attacked the influential Society of the Cincinnati as aristocratic and undemocratic because membership was based on descent through the eldest line from Continental army officers. A year later, the Pinckney-Middleton-Rutledge political faction saw to the election General William Moultrie, president of the South Carolina Society of the Cincinnati, as Guerard’s successor in the governor’s chair.

On April 7, 1786, the widower Guerard married Marianne Kennan and retired to Fountainbleu, his 1,474-acre plantation on Goose Creek. Their marriage was also childless. Guerard died on December 21, 1788.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Matthew A. Lockhart. To read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina, check out The South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. (Information used by permission.)


Palmetto Priorities Statehouse Report encourages state leaders to develop and implement Palmetto Priorities involving several issues to make the state better a better place. Click the link to learn more about our suggestions for bipartisan policy objectives.

Here is a summary of our Palmetto Priorities:

CORRECTIONS: Reduce the prison population by 25 percent by 2020.

EDUCATION: Cut the state's dropout rate in half by 2020.

ELECTIONS: Increase voter registration to 75 percent by 2015.

ENVIRONMENT: Adopt a state energy policy that requires energy producers to generate 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

ETHICS: Overhaul state ethics laws.

HEALTH CARE: Ensure affordable and accessible health care.

JOBS: Develop a Cabinet-level post to add, retain 10,000 small business jobs per year.

POLITICS: Have a vigorous two- or multi-party political system of governance.

ROADS: Strengthen all bridges and upgrade state roads by 2015.

SAFETY: Cut the state's violent crime rate by one-third by 2016.

TAX REFORM: Remove outdated special interest sales tax exemptions as part of an overall reform of the state's tax structure to be completed by 2014.


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What's behind surprising finding

SC, NC tied in unemployment rate

By Bill Davis, senior editor

AUG. 3, 2012 -- Huzzah! South Carolina is just as good as North Carolina!

South Carolina has not equaled North Carolina in education, progressive politics, or the most important index -- college basketball. But it has in unemployment rates, according to federal and state labor statistics.

In May, for the first time in what seems like forever -- something that one academic deemed “historic” -- South Carolina actually had a lower unemployment rate than did the Great North State.

But before any party planners get revved up, the party poopers need to get a word in. South Carolina has since drawn even with North Carolina at 9.4 percent unemployment in June. And South Carolina’s rate was only marginally better for a mere month, and is still higher than the national average of 8.2 percent. And while South Carolina’s unemployment rate has dropped from tied for third-worst in the country last year, it is now tied with North Carolina for fifth worst.


Economic story

John Connaughton, an endowed professor of economics at UNC-Charlotte and the director of one of that Tarheel state’s leading economic forecasts, said the reason for the “historic” change wasn’t necessarily what South Carolina was doing right, but more what North Carolina wasn’t doing very well.

Connaughton praised South Carolina’s “aggressive” courting of outside business and economic development. He said North Carolina had not done as good a job at economic development as its neighbor to the south.

He added that residents of North Carolina have yet to realize how bad their state fared “in the recession and in the recovery” over the past four years. He said most of the jobs lost from Manteo to Murphy have been in manufacturing and construction. 

“Those jobs show no immediate signs of coming back,” he said.

Connaughton, reflecting on the mild reversals of fortunes, said he was surprised that North Carolina’s economic situation hadn’t become more of a “story” across his state.

Burnie Maybank, a major player in the South Carolina’s economic development since he was Gov. Carroll Campbell’s economic point man, also had high praise for the job South Carolina has done in the face of economic adversity.

Maybank said it’s impressive that South Carolina’s unemployment rate has dropped as much as it has since its peak two years ago of close to 12 percent, considering that the state remains one of the most desirable relocation destinations, ranking as high as third on at least one study.

Maybank also pointed out that unemployment rates may have been helped by immigration reform with many illegal migrant workers returning to their home countries, unable to find work on farms or construction sites across the region.

Maybank, former director of the state Department of Revenue, said some counties have “underemployment” rates, where qualified workers are taking jobs normally reserved for teenagers, because of economic realities.

South Carolina’s “underemployment” rate currently stands at close to 17 percent, according to federal statistics, and factors in workers who, for instance, would normally work full-time but are forced to accept part-time jobs.

More work to be done

There is grim news on South Carolina’s horizon. A recent report stated the number of jobs listed online has dropped across the state. Also, the federal government has put the state’s Department of Employment and Workforce on a watch for slow payment for first-time unemployment benefits recipients.

Gov. Nikki Haley made her campaign mantra “Jobs, jobs, jobs” before coming into office in January 2011. And so far, there have been impressive gains, according to observers, with special note of “white buffalos,” like Boeing in the Charleston area.

Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said today that the governor and her administration “focused from day one on bringing jobs to every part of South Carolina - - and the results speak for themselves: over 25,000 jobs have been announced since she took office. “

But, Godfrey said, Haley “knows there’s more work to do. She’s going to continue fighting to bring jobs to every part of South Carolina and lift up those counties and rural areas that have sometimes been overlooked.”

But how many jobs can the governor claim responsibility for, considering that all of the states in the region have followed roughly similar unemployment rate trajectories?  And that the surge in hiring actually began, according to federal numbers, back in 2010, a year before she took office?

Maybank said that governors, like the president, “can only do so much,” because the overall economies are so large and complex. But, Maybank said, her administration’s focus on landing job-rich distribution centers and manufacturing has been a good decision.

Crystal ball: With South Carolina’s unemployment increasing at summer’s end, many are worried that economists’ forecasts for a rosier autumn may be too rosy. What needs to happen is that Haley and her crew need to keep fighting for jobs, the legislature needs to keep giving the appropriate agencies the tools (read: money) to bring those jobs to the state, and residents need to realize that while the worst may be over, it’s not going to get a lot better for a while -- and won’t if everyone isn’t on the same page. That being said, we’re equal with North Carolina and better for a month. Huzzah!

Bill Davis is editor of Statehouse Report.  He can be reached at:

Legislative Agenda

A couple of meetings to note

While there are no major legislative meetings scheduled for next week with members of the General Assembly likely more focused on reelection, there will be at least two events of note.

  • Courts. The League of Women Voters of South Carolina will host a forum looking into diversity and independence in the state judicial system Tuesday at 7 p.m.  at the University of South Carolina School of Law Auditorium, located at the corner of S. Main and Greene streets in downtown Columbia.

  • Energy. The State Regulation of Public Utilities Review Committee Energy Advisory Council will meet on Monday at 10 in 105 Gressette to discuss the draft documents submitted by the Nicholas Institute. Agenda.

Palmetto Politics

New school grading system debuts

Eighty-four percent of South Carolina’s public K-12 schools earned at least a “C” on the federal government’s new letter-grade system. The system replaces the No Child Left Behind guidelines of pass/fail.

Almost 75 percent of schools scored an A or a B, according to the state Department of Education, for the school year ending in June. But that does mean that one in 6, or roughly 16 percent, of every school in the state received either a D or a failing grade.

State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais last year called for the ending of NCLB, saying it was a broken system that flunks a school for failing in only one of a multitude of categories. This week, he said, ““Replacing No Child Left Behind with a law reducing the role of the federal government in education policy must be a top priority of the next administration. No Child Left Behind is broken and should have been replaced years ago.”


Sales tax holiday: It's a gimmick

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

AUG. 3, 2012 -- O.K., so here’s a grand idea: For the time of the second biggest shopping period of the year after Christmas, enact a law for a tax giveaway to lure people to stores when they’re going to go anyway.

Well, it’s already a done deal called the state’s annual back-to-school sales tax holiday, the three-day weekend going on now during which families can save 6 cents in sales tax as well as extra local sales taxes on exempt school-related items, like paper, pens, pencils, clothing and shoes. Oh, and other things that don’t sound so school-related: towels, blankets, bed linens, shower curtains, adult diapers, bandanas, ski boots, corsets, furs, hunting vests, nightgowns, prom dresses, Scout uniforms, skin diving suits, tuxedos and waders.

Ladies and gentlemen, this sales tax holiday weekend is nothing but a gimmick. It was designed by politicians to make you believe you are getting a real big tax break when, in fact, you’re getting peanuts. 

Just look at the total amount of revenue the state doesn’t receive because it doesn’t collect sales taxes this weekend: $3 million, according to the state Department of Revenue. That’s 1/25th of 1 percent of  $6.6 billion in overall state tax revenues. While $3 million is nothing to blink at, it amounts to less than $1 per person in the Palmetto State. (Remember, the holiday applies to anyone in the state, not just families with school-age children, so there’s no reason that Granny can’t head to the big box store and load up on towels and new bedroom slippers.)

What rankles about the sales tax holiday from a practical perspective is that it’s just dumb. People generally are going to buy required school supplies and clothing for their children anyway. With the holiday, all of those people are going to crowd stores to get a small break -- when retailers may already be lowering prices to do the same thing that the state is trying to do with the holiday: lure people into stores to spend more money.

"Remember, the holiday applies to anyone in the state, not just families with school-age children, so there’s no reason that Granny can’t head to the big box store and load up on towels and new bedroom slippers."
Around our house, we bought about $60 in school supplies for a third grader before the holiday. It was worth the $3.60 in lost tax savings to be able to cruise stores without a gaggle of people.   As best as we can tell, the only real beneficiary of the sales tax holiday are computer stores where people can save about $30 on purchase of a $500 computer.

But there are other reasons that make the sales tax holiday a bad idea.

First, they erode the tax base, which makes rates higher for the rest of the year. Wouldn’t it be smarter to lower a tax rate for the whole year than to target a tax holiday or two here or there?

Second, the holiday is just short-term relief and does little to address the regressive nature of sales taxes for the other 362 days of the year. Economists say sales taxes are inherently regressive because they require poorer people to pay a larger share of their income on staples like food and clothes. 

Third, the holiday has a measure of unfairness in it. While the savvy retailer may lower prices to attract more people for a big sales weekend, others may decide to leave prices the same -- or make them slightly higher -- because they figure people will get a break anyway. In other words, the savings that you get because of the state’s holiday may, in fact, mask a higher price kept by a retailer and you might end up paying more in the long run.

Fourth, what about people who are out of state during the tax holiday weekend? They don’t get the benefit of the break. For them, that’s unfair.

It’s far better for the state to make comprehensive sales tax reforms -- like removing some of the $3.1 billion in special interest sales tax exemptions -- to make things better for all consumers.   If lawmakers could get rid of just $400 million in exemptions, for example, they could lower the 6 cent sales tax rate by a penny for the whole year. That’s a much better gift to taxpayers than one long weekend of breaks. 

Next week: Dumb income tax credits.

Andy Brack is publisher of Statehouse Report.  You can reach Brack at: To view the recent four-part editorial series on public education, click here.


Time Warner Cable

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Statehouse Report to you at no cost. Today, we’re happy to shine the spotlight on Time Warner Cable. The company’s Carolina Region provides video, Internet and telephone services to more than two million customers in more than 400 cities and towns across North and South Carolina. Time Warner Cable is the second-largest cable operator in the U.S., with technologically advanced, well-clustered systems located in New York State, the Carolinas, Ohio, southern California and Texas.  The company’s mission: Connect people and businesses with information, entertainment and each other; give customers control in ways that are simple and easy. For more, visit Time Warner Cable online here:

My Turn

Why antebellum Society adds to liberty

By Alexander Moore
Special to Statehouse Report

NOTE: Home House Press has just published “The Fabric of Liberty: The Society of Cincinnati of the State of South Carolina” by Alexander Moore. In this article exclusively for Statehouse Report, Moore explains why he wrote a book on the Society and why it is important today.

AUG. 3, 2012 -- The founding fathers of the United States and of South Carolina established the Society of the Cincinnati in 1783. As one of the original societies, the South Carolina Society has some distinctions -- occasionally ironic ones -- that appealed to me as a student of American history. 

The S.C. Society was the only Southern one of the original fourteen societies (the first 13 states and France) that has an unbroken history. That meant, ironically, it was active during the Civil War, a conflict begun in the Palmetto State that aimed to shatter the American Republic. 

South Carolina had not only the most loyal Cincinnati but also some of the Society’s most determined opponents. Immediately after the defeat of the Confederacy, only one S.C. Cincinnati resigned because he could not reconcile with his northern brethren. A year after Appomattox, the General Society (the national organization) invited S.C. Cincinnati to attend the national meeting in Trenton, N.J. Such has been the power of the Cincinnati since 1783 to heal drastic divisions within the state, and between the state and the nation. For nearly 250 years, Society principles have fostered justifiable state pride and allegiance to the Union. 

The notion that a tightly-knit heritage organization could keep all that together for so long and even in today’s overheated partisan political climate appealed to my interest as a student of consensus in history and to timorous optimism about the future of the American Republic. Certainly the Society’s motto, “Omnia relinquit servare Rempublicam” linked the history of the Roman Republic to the victorious American nation and the emerging state of South Carolina. 

George Washington and his fellow Continental officers who were the Society Original Members consciously emulated (emulate: “to strive to equal or rival a person, his achievements or qualities; or to copy or imitate with the object of equaling or excelling) Lucius Quinctius Cincinnatus, the Roman soldier-citizen who rejected supreme power to return to his farm. 

The founders and successive generations were historians as well as citizen-soldiers. Their self-effacement and scholar-like definitions of duty and patriotism captured my attention.   I welcomed the opportunity to investigate how the Society’s principles of patriotism, fraternity and human liberty and the driving force of emulation had fared over two and a half centuries. I have concluded that they have fared well even to the present day. 

One of my overriding goals as a student-scholar is to promote knowledge of South Carolina’s colonial and revolutionary history. Those epochs were eventful and were also incubators of interesting developments in South Carolina political thought and of enduring cultural institutions. 

Those eras encompassed the lives of some fascinating personalities, many of whom were Cincinnati members. I am convinced that South Carolinians should devote more attention to those times and perhaps less attention to the state’s Civil War history. To do so might have the good effect of lowering the volume on some of today’s divisive rhetoric about state rights, the evils of the federal government, and maybe even some of the pernicious race and class talk that afflicts public discourse. 

The Cincinnati motto remains a call to active citizenship, not simply showing up at the voting booth and sporting yard signs. The call goes much farther, challenging all South Carolinians to seek distinction as citizens, not merely taxpayers, and to exercise the duties of antique citizenship to promote the public good instead of modern blind self-interest. 

Alexander Moore is a historian of colonial South Carolina, documentary editor and student of Southern art history. The former director of the South Carolina Historical Society, Moore is an acquisitions editor at the University of South Carolina Press and the author or editor of several works on Southern history.


Sign your letters

We encourage you to share your opinions.  However, we require that you sign your letters and provide contact information so that we can verify that you are the actual sender of the letter. 

Over the last week, we received a couple of nasty letters following a July 27 column outlining the need for a national discussion on guns.  We don't mind the nastiness and generally publish all comments about South Carolina politics or policy, unless they are libelous or unnecessarily inflammatory. If you write, sign the letter and provide a phone number.  If you don't want your name published with the opinion, just let us know that too and we'll discuss it.  We would much prefer to provide differing opinions about policy issues than worry about the writer of the letter, although most publications require you to sign your name if you want something published. 

Letters to the editor are published weekly. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity.  One submission is allowed per month. Submission of a comment grants permission to us to reprint. Comments are limited to 250 words or less. Please include your name and contact information.

Powering up; chickening outed; slowing down

Environment. Progress Energy Carolinas, a subsidiary of Duke Energy, will close its only coal-fired unit in South Carolina. More.

Chick-Fil-A. Customers lined up at the chicken sandwich restaurants in record numbers earlier this week in support of the company whose leadership has been criticized for anti-gay comments and support. Counter-protestors are planning a “kiss-in” at restaurants across the country.

Pay raises. House staffers and clerks making over $50,000 a year reportedly got raises ranging from 5 percent to 55 percent. More.

Sales tax holiday. The annual tax-free holiday begins today and either spurs consumer spending or pointlessly deprives the state of needed tax revenue ... or both.

Promptness. The feds have placed the S.C. Department of Employment on a watch list for how fast it remits first-time unemployment benefit checks. More.


Revving back up

Also from Stegelin:  7/27 | 7/20 | 7/13 | 7/6

Statehouse Report

Editor and Publisher: Andy Brack
Senior Editor: Bill Davis
Contributing Photographer: Michael Kaynard

Phone: 843.670.3996

© 2002 - 2014 , Statehouse Report LLC. Statehouse Report is published every Friday by Statehouse Report LLC, PO Box 22261, Charleston, SC 29413.
Excerpts from The South Carolina Encyclopedia are published with permission and copyrighted 2006 by the Humanities Council SC. Excerpts were edited by Walter Edgar and published by the University of South Carolina Press. Statehouse Report has partnered with USC Press to provide readers with this interesting weekly historical excerpt about the state. Republication is not allowed. For additional information about Statehouse Report, including information on underwriting, go to