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ISSUE 11.52
Dec. 28, 2012

RECENT ISSUES:
12/12 | 12/05 | 11/28 | 11/21

Index

News :
Let's welcome in the new year!
Legislative Agenda :
Cranking up the machine
Radar Screen :
Year of the Advocate ahead?
Palmetto Politics :
Gun politics already on full auto
Commentary :
Some resolutions for lawmakers’ new year
Spotlight :
The Riley Institute at Furman
My Turn :
Leveling the cliff
Feedback :
Get your facts straight
Scorecard :
It's the bottom of the 2012th: Two up, two down
Stegelin :
Cartoon of the year
Megaphone :
Enmity on both sides
Tally Sheet :
List of pre-filed bills
Encyclopedia :
South Carolina agriculture

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NUMBER OF THE WEEK

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Today's issue marks the end of the 11th year of publication of Statehouse Report.  We're looking forward next year to providing you with more great news coverage about what's going on in the policy and political process at the Statehouse, as well as compelling commentary in our weekly issue.

Click the image above at the right to see our holiday card! (Publisher Andy Brack at top, editor Bill Davis in the middle of the tree and cartoonist Steve Stegelin at the bottom.)

MEGAPHONE

Enmity on both sides

“They need an enemy. … I justify their existence.”

-- State Superintendent of Education Mick Zais on educators against his plan to grade teachers’ performance. Many teachers don’t have much good to say about Zais either, as outlined in this story and the quote below:

“You couldn’t really come up with a better plan to drive teachers away.”

-- Patrick Hayes, a fourth-grade Charleston teacher who is fighting the Zais plan.

TALLY SHEET

List of pre-filed bills

State lawmakers filed more than 300 bills earlier this month in preparation for the beginning of the 2013 session.  Click the links below to learn more.

ENCYCLOPEDIA

South Carolina agriculture

Part 3 of 3

Rice never recovered from the Civil War and emancipation. Most freed slaves simply refused to work in the rice swamps, and the peculiar labor demands of rice culture made tenantry impractical. Moreover, new culture areas in Louisiana and Texas undermined the market for Carolina rice. By 1890 the state's rice crop had fallen to one-fourth of prewar levels.

In common with other southern states, South Carolina's cotton culture continued to expand after the Civil War, especially in the Piedmont counties of Anderson, Greenville, Oconee, Pickens, and Spartanburg. By 1880 South Carolina was producing forty-five percent more cotton than in 1860. But demand for the staple did not keep pace with supply, and cotton prices began a long decline. Cotton growers responded to falling prices with increased production that only worsened the problem. By the late 1880s South Carolina farmers were in desperate straits. Between 1886 and 1887 more than one million acres of farmland were sold for taxes. Thousands of dispossessed farmers and tenants simply walked away from cotton fields and into burgeoning textile mills.

The fall of cotton prices sent shock waves through South Carolina, and farmers and merchants began seeking alternatives to a one-crop economy. As a result, several new crop cultures took root in the Palmetto State. In 1887 Barnwell County farmers made profits that "far exceed, per acre, the best cotton crop" by growing watermelons for shipment north. In the Pee Dee, farmers rode the wave of rising demand for cigarette tobaccos by planting bright leaf.

With an acre of tobacco worth ten of cotton, the Pee Dee entered a prolonged boom as the countryside prospered and market towns thrived. The arrival of the boll weevil in the early twentieth century compounded the woes of cotton growers and hastened the exit of thousands more from the culture. In the"Ridge" and Piedmont counties, peach trees flourished in former cotton fields and trainloads of fruit rolled north. In St. Matthews, agronomist John Edward Wannamaker sought soybean varieties that would thrive in South Carolina.

World War I raised crop prices to record levels, and the state's farmers breathed easier for a few years. But prices plunged in the 1920s, and farmers responded with self-defeating cycles of overproduction. With the coming of the Great Depression in 1929, many faced foreclosure and ruin, but New Deal farm policies provided immediate relief and addressed long-term problems. The Agricultural Adjustment Act of 1933 (AAA) was especially important. Cotton and tobacco growers benefited most from quota plans that reduced acreage, balanced supply with demand, and raised crop prices. Other programs offered low-cost production credit, conservation funds, and cheap electricity. Truly the New Deal was the most momentous event in South Carolina agriculture since emancipation.

World War II quickened the pace of change. High wartime crop prices helped farmers recover from the Depression and enjoy a rising living standard for the first time in decades. After the war, tractors, implements, and harvesters began replacing tenants on South Carolina farms. Modern fertilizers improved yields with less labor, and cotton acreage declined further as soybeans gained ground.

As more rural folk left the land, farms became fewer, larger, and better equipped. The census of 1980 reported an urban majority for the first time with less than two percent of the state's population actively engaged in farming. In the 1980s and 1990s tobacco, the state's leading cash crop, was undermined by health concerns. In the late twentieth century, South Carolina farmers produced a diverse variety of plant and animal crops including grains, fruits, vegetables, poultry, cattle, and hogs as well as some cotton and tobacco. Although increasingly urban and suburban, the Palmetto State has a strong rural tradition, and the quality of rural living attracts greater numbers of South Carolinians every year. Respect for the state's agrarian past endures.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Eldred E. Prince Jr. 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

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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News

Let's welcome in the new year!

Editor Bill Davis will be back next week with a peek at the coming session.
 
Have a safe and happy new year!
 
Legislative Agenda

Cranking up the machine

While the legislative session will start in full swing on January 8, a few meetings of note occur next week after the New Year’s holiday:

  • Judiciary. A subcommittee will meet 10:30 a.m. Thursday in 105 Gressette to discuss a bill that would clarify wording on bingos, raffles and special events related game promotions. Another subcommittee will meet 11 a.m. Thursday  in 308 Gressette to discuss a bill that would clarify economic statements of interest requirements for candidates for public office, the very issue that deleted hundreds off the ballot this November. Agenda.

  • Hacking. The S.C. Department of Revenue Committee will meet 1:30 p.m. Thursday in 516 Blatt to hear testimony from several agencies, including the governor’s office, on the hacking of private information of 3.8 million South Carolinians from state computers. Agenda.

  • Budget. The Joint Other Funds Oversight Committee will meet Friday at 10 a.m. in 105 Gressette to discuss interim budget adjustments. Agenda.
Radar Screen

Year of the Advocate ahead?

With all of the frustration about politics in South Carolina stemming from recent controversies about ethics, elections, hacking, guns, education and more, we get the feeling that grassroots advocates will work extra hard in the 2013 legislative session to make their voices heard and hold legislators accountable. While 2012 was the Year of the Incumbent after the state Supreme Court knocked off more than 250 people from ballots, maybe 2013 will be the Year of the Advocate.

Palmetto Politics

Gun politics already on full auto

Looks like any debate about gun violence in South Carolina won’t be rational based on how some politicians are already stoking the fires that the government will take away people’s weapons. 

Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, prefiled S. 84, the “South Carolina Firearms Freedom Act,” a bill that would exempt firearms and ammunition made in South Carolina from federal law. More.

On Thursday, Gov. Nikki Haley joined the fray with a Facebook comment that guns weren’t the problem -- people with mental health problems were. And she highlighted that she had a concealed weapons permit: “As a CWP holder, I am pro 2nd amendment and pro 10th amendment and will defend both. I would support open carry and reciprocity with any other state. The horrible shootings we have seen over the past few years have been related to individuals with mental health so my administration went right to the source.” As of 9 a.m. today, some 4,714 people had “liked” Haley’s comment.

Strap in. Lots of fear-mongering ahead.

Soul-searching ahead    

Winthrop University political scientist Scott Huffmon suggests that there will be a lot of GOP soul-searching in the months ahead as conservatives try to find a balance between the tea party side of the party as they try to attract more minorities, who may have more moderate views.

The battle ahead may be between Republicans who want to compromise and those who don’t. For a real look on how that plays out, just watch the state Senate, where the so-called “William Wallace” caucus battles constantly with more moderate, country club Republicans on a seeming daily basis.

Commentary

Some resolutions for lawmakers’ new year

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

DEC. 28, 2012 -- South Carolina legislators should resolve to do some real good this year for taxpayers -- not just show up in Columbia for the first five months of the year and give lip service to change. 

It is far past time for the state of South Carolina to get away from doing things just because that’s how things always have been done. Here are some resolutions for our elected officials to consider:

  • Remove sales tax exemptions. South Carolina is losing $3.1 billion in sales tax revenue every year because it exempts more for special interests than it actually taxes in sales. If the state could remove half of the exemptions on the books, it could significantly cut the sales tax rate, which means all taxpayers would pay less in sales tax.

  • Increase the gas tax. Our roads and bridges are woefully underfunded because the state’s gas tax hasn’t been increased in more than 20 years. We’ve got a rate that is half of neighboring states. Our penury shows in the pitiful condition of state highways and bridges. Raising the gas tax by 15 cents per gallon -- which doesn’t necessarily mean gas at the pump will rise that much -- will generate more than $350 million a year to fix existing roadways.

  • Modernize elections. Not only do state lawmakers need to fix the snarl they created that knocked more than 250 candidates off ballots this year, they need to modernize the process to provide for real early voting, same-day registration and other improvements to make voting more attractive to more people.

  • Early childhood education. If we want our children to have a better chance in the global economy, they need to have the option to attend 4-year-old kindergarten across the state, just as more than 80,000 kids do every year in Georgia. Pay for it by dedicating recurring revenues from one year of growth. This is an important investment that we must make for the state’s economic future.

  • Get serious with ethics reform. State lawmakers need to change law and increase funding to make the state Ethics Commission become the investigatory agency for legislative ethics complaints. Legislators can still make ultimate decisions on whether to chastise fellow legislators for ethical gaffes, but an outside agency needs to have the power to get the process going. 

* * *

THE PRO-GUN LOBBY had some critical comments about last week’s column on reducing gun violence. And rightfully so. I could have been more specific and explained things a little better. To wit:

  • No guns for felons. I wrote the state should pass a law banning gun ownership for convicted felons and that if any felons are caught with a gun, they should go back to jail. A North Charleston friends notes there are two statutes that prohibit gun possession by people convicted violent crimes. However, that’s not tough enough. A convicted violent criminal found with a gun should go back to jail for awhile, not just pile up another charge that may send them back to jail.

  • Assault rifles. The column did not describe that semi-automatic weapons are “one shot per trigger pull.” In calling for a renewed ban on assault weapons and high-capacity magazines, I should have explained better: The government should again ban civilian versions of automatic rifles, such as the AR-15 (based on the M16 rifle) and AK-47 (I have fired this gun.) While these civilian assault rifles are “one shot per trigger pull,” they can be fed with high-capacity magazines and are dangerous. If you’ve seen kids in a video arcade, you know they can pull a trigger two or three times a second.   In my view, hunting rifles are fine -- as long as you have to reload an individual cartridge before another trigger pull. Make sense now?

There were several other comments, but the bottom line is that we need to have a reasonable statewide and national debate about guns to protect hunters’ rights to hunt and people’s rights to protect themselves. But a person doesn’t need to have a half-dozen assault rifles in a storage locker because no hunter I know uses them to shoot deer.

Andy Brack is publisher of Statehouse Report.  You can reach Brack at: brack@statehousereport.com.

Spotlight

The Riley Institute at Furman

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Statehouse Report to you at no cost. This week's spotlighted underwriter is The Richard W. Riley Institute of Government, Politics, and Public Leadership, a multi-faceted, non-partisan institute affiliated with the Department of Political Science at Furman University. Named for former Governor of South Carolina and United States Secretary of Education, Richard Riley, the Institute is unique in the United States in the emphasis it places on engaging students in the various arenas of politics, public policy, and public leadership. Learn more about the Riley InstituteAlso learn more about the Riley Institute's Center for Education Policy and Leadership.
My Turn

Leveling the cliff

By former U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings
Special to Statehouse Report

DEC. 28, 2012 -- The nation has two problems: paying for government; offshoring the economy. 

Speaker Boehner exclaims: “The problem is spending.” Given a balanced budget in 2001, President Bush cut taxes, waged wars, added prescription drugs to Medicare, stimulated, bailed out – all without paying for them – increasing the debt $5 trillion in eight years. Boehner supported the spending without paying for it and can’t say now the problem is spending. President Obama increased the debt $5 trillion in four years and can’t say spending is the problem. We haven’t paid for government for twelve years and increased taxes and spending cuts will both be necessary. 

We have a rule in the S.C. House of Representatives that any spending bill must be accompanied with a certificate from the Controller that the expenditure is within the revenues. Programs are paid for at the time of adoption. That’s how we’ve maintained our AAA credit rating in South Carolina. 

Globalization is nothing more than a trade war with production looking for a country cheaper to produce. 150 countries use a Value Added Tax to compete in globalization because the VAT is rebated on exports. Our corporate tax is not rebated. This is killing manufacture in the United States. A U.S. Manufacturer exporting to China pays the 35 percent Corporate Tax and when exports reach Shanghai is levied a 17 percent VAT. A China manufacturer exports to the United States tax free. This 52 percent difference has every manufacturer looking over his shoulder to see whether his competitor is looking to offshore. If his competition offshores it will put him out of business. You can’t start production. You can’t increase production. The economy stagnates. 

To compete in globalization we must eliminate the 35 percent corporate tax and replace it with the 7 percent VAT. Immediately some will react: the VAT is complicated; the VAT is regressive. The VAT is not complicated, not regressive. With computers it is easily implemented. The corporate VAT needs no loopholes for a poor corporation. The VAT closes all loopholes, giving instant tax reform and is self-enforcing so that we can reduce the size of government (IRS). Last year’s corporate tax produced $181.1 billion in revenues. A 7 percent VAT for 2011 would have produced $872 billion. The Main Street merchant or small business is paying the full 35 percent corporate tax. The multinationals have so many loopholes they are getting away with murder. Two years ago, GE and Honeywell paid no corporate tax. All in Congress say they are for tax cuts, tax reform, reducing the size of government, helping small business, creating millions of jobs, paying down the debt and balancing the budget. This tax cut with spending cuts will permit Congress to balance the budget in two years. 

In 2006, the Princeton economist Alan Blinder estimated that in ten years the U.S. would offshore 30 to 40 million jobs -- an average of 3 to 4 million jobs a year. We continue to offshore more jobs than we create. The Wall Street Journal (12/13/12) headlines: “Fed ties rates to joblessness.” The economy is not suffering from a lack of consumer confidence or demand. It’s a lack of consumer payrolls. We’ve offshored our research, technology, production, jobs, payrolls -- the economy. 

Corporate America offshores to China and we need it to onshore or invest in the U.S. Free trade won’t do it. China completely controls it’s market and world trade. We’ve got to protect those items vital to our defense and strong economy. We’ve had trade laws to protect our defense and economy for years. In 1961, President Kennedy enforced the Defense Production Act of 1960 to save the textile industry. In 1971, President Nixon imposed a 10 percent surcharge on imports when our trade deficit was a miniscule of what our trade deficit is today. Our trade deficit in 2011 of $559 billion cost us four million jobs per year. In 1984, President Reagan protected steel, motor vehicles, computers and machine tools vital to our economy. Both Presidents Bush and Obama have been lax on enforcing trade law.  Both refuse to enforce the Defense Production Act. Last year we were begging Russia for helicopters for Afghanistan. If both had imposed a tariff on imported automobiles, like Nixon, the bailout of Detroit wouldn’t have been necessary. Both refuse to penalize China for devaluing its currency. The Nation can’t survive with China controlling its market and world trade. Already China takes U.S. technology, slightly alters and patents it, with the China product becoming the article in trade. In two years, China will become the largest market in the world. 

The Congress must determine those items vital to our defense and economy and the President must vigorously enforce the laws.

Hollings, who retired from the U.S. Senate in 2005 after 38 years of service, knows a little about budgets.  Not only did he serve as Senate Budget chairman in his career, but he is co-author of the landmark Gramm-Rudman-Hollings deficit reduction act.  More:  FritzHollings.com.
Feedback

Get your facts straight

To the editor:

I just read your article on gun control. I cannot tell whether you are ignorant on the subject or just willing to perpetuate a much believed lie. The laws of the United States forbid the ownership of a firearm that is automatic, i.e., fires more than one bullet per pull of the trigger. Most modern handguns are semi-automatic and require one pull, one bullet. Most modern rifles are semi-automatic and require one pull, one bullet. Even the old revolvers of 100 years ago were one pull, one bullet.

Many handguns have more firepower than so called “assault rifles.” That is a term coined by anti-gun politicians to fool the public into thinking they are automatic weapons. Assault rifles are nothing more than standard semi-automatic rifles “tricked out” to LOOK like a military rifle. They still fire one bullet per pull, just like my 75-year-old 22 rifle! True military rifles are the only ones that fire in automatic mode and they are already illegal in the civilian population.

I hope you will clear this up for your readers who may believe we are surrounded by automatic weapons.

-- Ed Dixon, Florence, SC

More about guns

All of these assault weapons ARE semi automatic ( one shot per trigger pull ). You have to have a special license for full auto. Google “Remington 7400.” This is a semi-auto deer rifle that has been around a long time. It will shoot 5 bullets as fast as you pull the trigger, just like an AR or AK but looks " friendly " as opposed to the mean looks of an AK-47.

At any gun show I have been to, they always check any weapon before bringing in. Also, when buying a gun at a gun show, you go through the same background check (SLED) you would at any store and have to fill out all the paperwork. Occasionally someone will be selling their own personal guns and this is a "private sale" where you don't have to do background check but most sellers do the checks.

No argument, just a couple thoughts.

-- Paul Worthington, Florence, S.C.

Send your thoughts. We love hearing from our readers and encourage you to share your opinions. But you've got to provide us with contact information so we can verify your letters. Letters to the editor are published weekly. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity.

We generally publish all comments about South Carolina politics or policy issues, unless they are libelous or unnecessarily inflammatory. 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.

Scorecard

It's the bottom of the 2012th: Two up, two down

Taylor. Thumbs up to Rep. Bill Taylor, an Aiken Republican who used to be a newspaper reporter and TV anchorman, for his bill to strengthen public records laws.  More.

Horne. Hats off to Rep. Jenny Horne, R-Summerville, for taking on the state Department of Social Services, which can use a little attention after its lack of attention to taxpayers. More.

Road deaths. Be careful out there. Traffic deaths are up in the last part of the year, confounding better stats earlier in the year. More.

Hacked again. While officials at the state Department of Employment and Workforce say no personal data was taken last Saturday when someone changed the homepage with a message, “This site was hacked,” DEW officials need to admit it was hacked, not just “defaced.” More.
Stegelin

Cartoon of the year

Our talented cartoonist, Charleston's Steve Stegelin, outdid himself with his terse Nov. 23 cartoon that summed up the hypocrisy of Americans now obsessed with tough immigration policies.  It's our Cartoon of the Year.  Thanks, Steve!

 
Others on our Top 10 list of 2012 cartoons:
credits

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 http://www.statehousereport.com/.