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ISSUE 12.02
Jan. 11, 2013

RECENT ISSUES:
12/04 | 11/27 | 11/20 | 11/13

Index

News :
Taking a byte out of S.C.
Legislative Agenda :
Flurry of bills ahead
Radar Screen :
Here come the guns
Palmetto Politics :
Get your letter yet?
Commentary :
We’ve got a lot to be proud of
Spotlight :
Municipal Association of South Carolina
Feedback :
Great job on “myth of big government” article
Scorecard :
More bad than good this week
Stegelin :
Payback is hell
Number of the Week :
$3.5 million
Megaphone :
Thinks locals know best
Tally Sheet :
More than 270 bills filed
Encyclopedia :
St. Bartholomew's Parish

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NUMBER OF THE WEEK

$3.5 million

That’s about how much the state paid to fight for a controversial voter identification law. But because the state won the suit, the feds will ultimately have to reimburse only a fraction -- about $90,000 -- to the state.  (NOTE: An editing error left out the italicized words in our first edition; we apologize for any confusion.)  More.

MEGAPHONE

Thinks locals know best

“It could be anybody who works for the school system. … School safety is primarily a local control issue. We don't want a one size fits all policy.”

-- S.C. Superintendent of Schools Mick Zais, championing local rule when it comes to arming school district employees. More.

TALLY SHEET

More than 270 bills filed

Senators and House members filed 274 bills during the opening week of the legislative session which, when you add pre-filed bills from December, brings the total number of bills in the legislative hopper to 525 pieces of legislation. 

While this week’s new bills included a fair number of congratulatory resolutions, there were some bills that you might find interesting:

Caller ID. S. 157 (Young) calls for a new offense for anyone who alters Caller ID phone or social media identity information. 

School districts.  S. 159 (Young) calls for school districts to serve at least 2,500 students before receiving state funds.

Gun safety. S. 162 (Bright) calls for an elective course on gun safety in schools.

Film incentives. S. 163 (Campbell) would boost film incentive rebates to 30 percent if at least $1 million was spent in S.C.

Apology. S. 164 (Sheheen) is a concurrent resolution that calls for the state to apologize to the people for the recent hacking of state Revenue Department computers and for not taking better care of people’s personal information.

Constitutional officers. S. 167 (Young) calls for a constitutional amendment to remove the secretary of state as an elective officer. In a similar vein, S. 170 (Young) relates to the commissioner of agriculture, S, 172 (Young) to the state treasurer, S. 173 (Young) to the adjutant general, S. 174 to the comptroller general; S. 175 (Young) to the comptroller general.

Office tobacco. S. 180 (Bryant) would repeal a law related to prohibiting personnel actions based on use of tobacco products outside the workplace.

Pharmacies. S. 183 (Cromer) calls for more law related to compounding pharmacies, with several protections and provisions.

Highway maintenance. S. 184 (Sheheen) calls for the Department of Transportation to develop a system to prioritize projects while keeping the current system intact and maintained; with several provisions related to bidding and more.

Fair tax. S. 185 (Grooms) calls for the state to have a “fair tax.”

Animal welfare. S. 193 (Verdin) relates to revising criminal penalties for animal cruelty violations. S. 194 (Verdin) seems to call for rewriting much of the state law governing animal shelters, with many provisions.

Judges. S. 200 (Bright) calls for a constitutional amendment to require the governor to appoint judges and repeal the Judicial Merit Screening panel, with several provisions.

Term limits. S. 201 (Bright) calls for term limits for House (4 two year terms) and Senate (2 four year terms) members.

Loosening waste disposal. S. 203 (Verdin) calls for the “Business Freedom to Choose Act,” which if passed would limit a county’s ability to set solid waste rules, among other things.

Abortion. S. 204 (Bright) mimics a controversial Mississippi law that would require a doctor performing an abortion to have admitting and staff privileges at a local hospital, with several provisions.

State Infrastructure Bank. S. 209 (Peeler) would shift the bank to the state Department of Transportation.

Budget provisos. S. 211 (Leatherman) would codify more than 22 pages of budget provisos. It is a very complex bill with scores of past provisos that will impact government.

A summary of key House bills will be added later today.

ENCYCLOPEDIA

St. Bartholomew's Parish

One of the 10 original parishes established by the Church Act of 1706, St. Bartholomew's Parish, located in modern Colleton County, included the territory between the Edisto and Combahee Rivers. With the spread of rice cultivation, St. Bartholomew's numerous tidal rivers attracted planters who brought large numbers of African slaves to work their fields. During the second half of the eighteenth century the production of indigo further increased their wealth and demand for slaves.

The whites of St. Bartholomew's Parish could not agree on a location for a parish church, so several Anglican chapels of ease were built. In 1725 a chapel was authorized at Pon Pon, a neighborhood near where the Charleston road crossed the Edisto River. A second was authorized in 1745 at Edmundsbury, a village on the Ashepoo River.

During the antebellum era, the fertile soil and optimum growing conditions made the ACE (Ashepoo, Combahee, Edisto) River Basin a center of rice production in the state. In 1820 Colleton District, which included St. Bartholomew's Parish, had a population that was 83.6 percent African slaves.

The planters of St. Bartholomew's were known for their political radicalism, electing the outspoken fire-eater Robert Barnwell Rhett to represent them in the General Assembly and Congress. When a new state constitution was adopted in 1865, the parish system was abolished and St. Bartholomew's Parish was incorporated into Colleton District.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Michael S. Reynolds. 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

Taking a byte out of S.C.

Legislature, governor struggle for answers to hacking

By Bill Davis, senior editor

JAN. 11, 2013 -- A crossfire between policy and politics may retard resolving the state’s ongoing computer hacking problems, a priority in all corners of state government.

Last fall, an unknown person hacked into a vulnerable database at the state Department of Revenue and looted information from 3.8 million state taxpayers who’d filed electronically since 1998.

That unencrypted information included names, dates of birth, and Social Security numbers for most of the residents of the state. The theft is considered to be the biggest breach of public information in American history.

The state has since hired outside firms to monitor credit and help it track down the culprit and responsible parties.

Powerful senators have called for a fund to be created to cover some of the costs of potential future identity thefts, and politicians in both parties in the House and Senate hold charged public hearings and committee meetings looking into the matters.

State officials looked into automatically signing up every citizen for credit monitoring, but ran into an interesting legal roadblock, according to several sources.

Apparently, it’s just as illegal for hacker to loot information as it is for the state to hand over the same personal information to reputable companies without permission.

But the ongoing hacking scandal is far from the first time state computer systems have come under attack. Last year, both the departments of Motor Vehicles, and Health and Human Services were the victims of cyber crime.

While the breach at the DMV was relatively minor, the breach at DHHS was recently called the fourth largest in American history. In that April incident, taken was the personal information of more than 225,000 South Carolinians on state Medicaid rolls, according DHHS director Tony Keck.

Keck said of that number, roughly 20,000 were especially vulnerable, since their Social Security numbers doubled as their federal Medicare identification numbers and could spawn future medical fraud.

And, because of the current structure of the state’s computer system, Keck said, “there’s no throat to choke” for the ongoing problems.

Pig in the ditch

There’s an old saying that once a pig is in the ditch, it doesn’t matter how it got there or who is responsible. What’s important is getting the pig out of the ditch.

De-ditching the state’s cyber pig will be a difficult fight, pitting factions in both chambers of the legislature against each other, and against the governor.

Gov. Nikki Haley has used Revenue’s hacking incident for further fodder for the creation of a Department of Administration, which would be housed in her cabinet.

But her timing may be bad, as all three of the hacked agencies currently are within her cabinet. Many legislators have expressed concern about handing her or her office control over the entire state computer system when her cabinet agencies couldn’t control the hackings during her watch.

House Ways and Means chair Brian White (R-Anderson) said this week that there may be some independent agencies that wouldn’t be comfortable with a cabinet agency overseeing its computer safety.

Keck said while his opinion parallels his boss’, his experience was that having a strong, centralized Administration in the cabinet would be best for every agency in the long run.

Keck said that 49 states already have some sort of Administration agency, and his experience previously work in Louisiana state government taught him the value of a centralized agency encompassing human resources, computer security, and the like.

“Would you rather have 100 officials in 50 separate offices, making $50,000 a year each, in charge of (computer system) security, or 10 people in one agency making $150,000, and this all they do?” asked Keck.

Structural questions

Officials, elected and otherwise, seemed this week to be in complete agreement that there should be some sort of new position created -- a sort of cyber-security czar. But where to put that position? And perhaps more importantly, how would it work?

Mission-wise, computer information officers in agencies across the state generally push access, access and more access. Their jobs, according to one insider, is to make it easy for state employees to get their state computers to take them anywhere in the state computer system as fast as possible.

But a cyber-security czar would want more control -- whoa-whoa-whoa focused -- to keep hackers at bay. That approach, however, might make it difficult to put two contrasting positions under the same office.

Some have floated the idea of putting a cyber-security czar in the State Law Enforcement Division under the state’s top cop, SLED Chief Mark Keel, who is well respected in the legislature and the governor’s mansion.

Keel, a cabinet agency head, did not return calls for comment for this story.

One of the embarrassing side-stories of the whole hacking mess has been that the Budget and Control Board had offered encryption and safety options to every state agency, including Revenue.

But putting a czar in the budget board might be problematic, as the agency’s head has been on and off the budgetary chopping block for the past few years and is permanently affixed to Republican governors’ hit lists. 

Crystal ball: There will be no shortage for fuel for the fire under finding a solution. While legislators met this week in hacking subcommittee meetings, taxpayers across the state began receiving bad news letters from the state that their personal financial information was among those who’d been compromised. So the question becomes, can state government get over petty fights to protect its citizens (this time and in the future) and keep the pig out of the ditch?

Bill Davis is editor of Statehouse Report.  He can be reached at:  bill@statehousereport.com.

Legislative Agenda

Flurry of bills ahead

Receptions and dinners usually dominate the first two weeks of most legislative sessions. But this year because of the House Republican Caucus’ delay in releasing its legislative agenda, the number of pre-filed bills was down this year, according to House Speaker Bobby Harrell’s spokesman, Greg Foster.

As a result, expect more and more bills to come to the floor and then be sent to committee in the coming two weeks in that chamber. In addition to the slate of new bills expected, look for bills to emerge to fix “ballotgate,” the controversy surrounding more than 250 people being thrown off election ballots last year because of poorly drafted legislation.

A similar ballotgate effort will likely make it out later in the week in the Senate as Judiciary Committee chair Larry Martin (R-Pickens) said that more wrinkles have surfaced, such as crafting a bill that would take care of financial disclosure for regular and special elections.

The House and Senate will also be working on bills to resolve the “hacking” incident at Revenue last fall. But a series of hearings regarding the scandal may delay a bill making it out of committee, as there appears to be a bigger problem than originally thought.

In meetings ahead:

  • House Ways and Means. Several subcommittees will meet throughout the week to take budget requests from agencies and departments beginning Tuesday. Consult this Web page for specific times, dates, locations, and agendas.

  • House 3M. The full committee will meet Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. or an hour and a half after adjournment to discuss committee rules. Agenda.

  • House LCI. A health insurance subcommittee will meet at 10 a.m. Wednesday in 403 Blatt to discuss a bill that would allow the state to “opt out” of federal health care reform. Agenda.

  • State of the State.  Gov. Nikki Haley will deliver the State of the State address at 7 p.m. Wednesday in the House chamber.
Radar Screen

Here come the guns

The recent spate of gun-related school tragedies increases the chance that the General Assembly may fund armed resource officers at all K-12 schools in the coming budget, despite some objections. Then, the fight will be who pays them – school districts or the state.

Palmetto Politics

Get your letter yet?

After the nation's largest data breach of a state government was announced by the state at the end of October, the state Department of Revenue finally has sent along letters to people to let them know their personal information was compromised about a hacker.

How many people got hacked?  Oh, just about 3.8 million -- virtually every adult in South Carolina.  So the only government agency that appears to have benefited so far is the U.S. Postal Service. 

Best move of the letter:  There's no signature.  Why? Perhaps so no one will take out their wrath on anyone.  But remember the person who ultimately oversees the department:  Gov. Nikki Haley.
 
Worst move of the letter:  It's early January.  More than two months went by before an official word came by mail from state government.  Great job, guys.   Click here or the image  if you want to read the letter.

DHEC shake-up continues

Department of Health and Environmental Control Director Catherine Templeton has continued to shake-up the agency.

Last week, Templeton let go 45 managerial positions she said she planned to replace with 68 on-the-ground employees. She also named Elizabeth Dieck to oversee all the agency’s environmental permitting.

Under Templeton, there has been a continued housecleaning, while she has vowed to streamline the state’s permitting process. Last year, Templeton discovered there were hundreds of permits that had not be reviewed by DHEC officials for years, sometimes decades. Dieck will be in charge of all permitting, and will likely result in higher levels of accountability – a buzzword in Gov. Nikki Haley’s tenure. DHEC is a cabinet agency.

Zais on guns

S.C. Superintendent of Schools Mick Zais, a retired general, has taken a particularly strong position on guns in school: If local districts want to arm teachers, they should be allowed to.

Zais told the full Senate Education Committee this week that he would support well-trained individuals carrying firearms on campus. His comments came after the school shootings in Newtown, Conn., and have since been followed by another shooting incident at a California school.

Many schools already have armed police and resource officers on campus across the state, but Zais said he would consider extending that to some teachers as well. Zais isn’t alone in his position, as there is a bill in the House that would allow school employees with concealed weapon permits to carry firearms. But the state’s top cop, Mark Keel, chief of the State Law Enforcement Division, told the same committee that he opposed allowing teachers to carry firearms.

Commentary

We’ve got a lot to be proud of

JAN. 11, 2013 -- Critics and columnists spend a lot of time suggesting how things can be better. But if they don’t step back every now and then, they may lose sight of a lot of good that is going on.

Despite challenges with South Carolina’s education system, poverty, an antiquated tax structure and persistently poor health, more than a million new people moved into the Palmetto State over the last 20 years -- a sign that we do a lot right. And the kinds of things we do right are more than beauty pageants, shrimp and grits, football (and tailgating), friendliness and a great quality of life for many. 

Here are some ways the Palmetto State excels -- some examples you might want to provide naysayers when the next story comes about how backward things seem in South Carolina:

  • Work. We build cars and planes and were picked by major companies (BMW and Boeing) because our people know how to work.  

Dr. Charles Gould, president of Florence-Darlington Technical College, said South Carolinians aren’t scared of hard work. “When we work, we really work. And when we are expected to work at something we don’t really understand, we will break down every barrier to learn that work. ... This is part of the answer to why companies come here and why they are extraordinarily satisfied with what they find.”

  • Conservation. We do conservation right. Just look at the collaborative effort between governments, non-profits and landowners in the ACE Basin area south of Charleston over the last two generations. They’ve protected more than 200,000 acres forever through public purchases and donations of conservation easements. 

Not only did the effort lead to dedicated conservationists on both sides of the political aisle, but it fostered conservation cooperation all over the state that grew so that about 2 million acres of land in the coastal plain are protected, said Dana Beach, head of the S.C. Coastal Conservation League. “Today, there is much discussion nationwide about how to protect large ecosystems and landscapes,” he said. “South Carolina’s ACE Basin was a pioneer and arguably the first ‘landscape level’ conservation initiative in the country.”

Realtor and conservationist Charles Lane of Charleston noted how South Carolina is a national leader in easements as some 425,000 acres were protected through easements in the state between 1989 and 2009. The State Conservation Bank also protected 162,894 acres at a cost of just over $500 per acre, he said.

  • Business climate. South Carolina lures major industries successfully through its quality of life and investment in infrastructure improvements, like water and sewer service, bridges and roads. “Well-considered investments of tax dollars by governments at all levels are paying great positive dividends for citizens resulting, in part, in our attractive quality of life and a very positive business climate,” said former state Sen. Phil Leventis of Sumter.
  • Hospitality. With Charleston being rated as the world’s number one city in 2012 by Conde Nast Traveler magazine, it’s pretty clear that South Carolina does tourism right too. Just look at Columbia’s great New Year’s eve, great state parks, Freedom Weekend Aloft in the Upstate, Myrtle Beach’s attractions and more. “South Carolina has the human qualities of warmth and hospitality in abundance, coupled with industriousness and a ‘get it done’ attitude in business and research,” said USC President Harris Pastides.
  • Judicial system. Barbara Zia, co-president of the League of Women Voters of South Carolina, lauds the high quality of the state’s judiciary and merit selection system. “Our state judicial system operates effectively, despite gross underfunding and being under the General Assembly.”
  • History and innovation. AT&T South Carolina President Pamela Lackey pointed to the state’s ability to remember and build on the past and embrace the future. “We build on the past to transform ourselves and our institutions for future successes,” she said.
  • Technology. South Carolina is also getting pretty good at being a hub for technology with Charleston serving as a “Silicon Harbor,” according to PeopleMatter’s Nate DaPore. “South Carolina ranked second in high-tech employment growth at 8.6 percent from 2010 to 2011,” he said.

Yes we’ve got a long way still to go. But we’ve got a lot to be proud of too.

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

Spotlight

Municipal Association of South Carolina

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Statehouse Report to you at no cost. This week's spotlighted underwriter is the Municipal Association of South Carolina. Formed in 1939, the association represents and serves the state's 270 incorporated municipalities. The Association is dedicated to the principle of its founding members: to offer the services, programs and products that will give municipal officials the knowledge, experience and tools for enabling the most efficient and effective operation of their municipalities in the complex world of municipal government.
Feedback

Great job on “myth of big government” article

To the editor:

Just read your “Myth of Big Government” article in the Upstate Business Jounal. Great job of reporting LOGICAL FACTS regarding government spending.

I wish the South and South Carolina had more voices out there like you to call B.S. on a lot of the propaganda out there. Keep up the good work with responsible reporting!

-- Matt Foreman, Greenville, S.C.

State has crippled agencies

To the editor:

Good article (“The myth of big government”). Our state has really crippled the ability of many agencies to respond, be progressive or proactive.

More seriously, we have discouraged many good young minds from even thinking about public service.

-- Chris Brooks, Mount Pleasant, 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

More bad than good this week

Education. South Carolina ranks third nationally for numbers of nationally certified teachers. More.

Nostra Culpa. State Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D-Camden) has introduced a bill that would require the legislature to “apologize” the hacking incident at Revenue – it may restore some measure of trust in state government, but wasn’t that agency in the governor’s cabinet, and hasn’t she already done her mea culpa? More.

Ott man out. For the first time in eight years, state Rep. Harry Ott (D-St., Matthews) isn’t the House Minority Leader, having decided not to run for re-election.  Hats off to state Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-Columbia), who won the election for the post. More.

SCSU. In a scandal that keeps on widening, indictments have been handed down against former S.C. State University officials, one a trustee and others, with more expected. More.

Hacking. In the scandal that keeps on deepening, suggested security measures at Revenue haven’t been followed and encryption of data may not be completed until spring. More.

Guns. The rate of gun sales in South Carolina accelerated in December, despite the Newtown, Conn. Shootings. More.

Boeing. A recent fire and fuel leak have led the Federal Aviation Administration to launch a review into the Boeing 787, some of which are now manufactured in the Charleston area. More.

Ethical costs. The state’s Ethics Commission is running out of money. Here’s a litmus test on the legislature’s zeal for reform. More.

Stegelin

Payback is hell


RECENT STEGELIN:  1/4 | 1/21 | 1/14 | Cartoon of the Year
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Editor and Publisher: Andy Brack
Senior Editor: Bill Davis
Contributing Photographer: Michael Kaynard

Phone: 843.670.3996

© 2002 - 2018 , 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/.