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ISSUE 12.03
Jan. 18, 2013

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

Index

News :
Insuring our future
Legislative Agenda :
Admin bill may head to floor
Radar Screen :
Problem ahead for Sanford?
Palmetto Politics :
SOS (State of the State)
Commentary :
Hey tailgaters -- back off!
Spotlight :
S.C. Association of Counties
My Turn :
Enact Obama's comprehensive gun control plan
Feedback :
Thoughtful article
Scorecard :
Mourning Ted Stern
Stegelin :
Circus is back in town
Megaphone :
We're Number One (hooray?!?)
Tally Sheet :
From militias to school safety
Encyclopedia :
Stono Rebellion

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NUMBER OF THE WEEK

$54,000

That’s how much the federal government has been ordered to pay South Carolina of the $3.5 million in legal fees South Carolina spent fighting for voter I.D. More.

MEGAPHONE

We're Number One (hooray?!?)

“Clearly South Carolina is the most interesting [political state] and has been for years. Where else can a person like Alvin Greene be connected by ‘six degrees of separation’ from statesmen like Andrew Jackson and John C. Calhoun, all by using relevant political persons/hot issues of the past 30 years? That’s right: Nowhere.”

-- From “The 10 most interesting states in politics,” WashingtonPost.com.

TALLY SHEET

From militias to school safety

State lawmakers introduced dozens of bills over the last week.  Key new bills were:

Guns. S. 224 (Davis) is a joint resolution that seeks to nullify any presidential executive order in South Carolina that restricts “a citizen’s Second Amendment right to keep and bear arms.”

Info restructuring. S. 225 (Campsen) calls for the S.C. Chief Information Officer Restructuring Act to establish a state department of Chief Information Officer, with many provisions.

Streamlining. S. 226 (Campsen) seeks a new commission to streamline government and waste.

Voting limits. S. 227 (Campsen) seeks to require voters to prove citizenship, with several provisions.

Health premiums. S. 232 (Setzler) calls for state employee health insurance premiums to remain unchanged in 2013.

Abandoned buildings. S. 234 (Coleman) calls for a law to provide tax credits or other credits to taxpayers rehabilitating abandoned buildings.

Magistrates. S. 235 (Bright) calls for a constitutional amendment to require magistrates to be appointed by a majority of resident judges in a judicial circuit. S. 240 (Sheheen) calls for the Supreme Court to provide magistrate nominees to the governor to select from. S. 241 (Sheheen) calls for the Supreme Court to appoint magistrates.

Raffles. S. 239 (Cleary) calls for a constitutional amendment to allow raffles to be operated in some circumstances.

Guns in schools. S. 242 (Shealy) would remove some limitations on having concealed weapons in schools.

New constitution. S. 243 (Sheheen) calls for a constitutional study commission, followed by a convention to draft a new state constitution, with several provisions. S. 245 (Sheheen) proposes a constitutional amendment for a constitutional convention.

Militia. S. 247 (Corbin) calls for a new law to “provide for the duties and responsibilities of the South Carolina Unorganized Militia.”

Cops in schools. S. 249 (Setzler) calls for at least one school resource officer in public schools across the state.

Regulatory reform. S. 256 (Alexander) seeks a regulatory reform act to keep regulations from going into effect without an affirmative vote of the General Assembly, with several provisions.

Disaster earmark. S. 258 (Peeler) seeks to transfer $2 million from the state Insurance Reserve Fund to the Spartanburg Disaster Relief Fund to compensate victims of an amusement train derailment.

Small business. S. 262 (Leatherman) calls for the “High Growth Small Business Job Creation Act” to provide nonrefundable credits for qualified investments, with several provisions. H. 3319 (Loftis) is similar.

Abortion. H. 3323 (Barfield) would establish a right to life for unborn children and that it begins at fertilization, with several provisions. H. 3324 (Barfield” would create an unborn children’s monument commission

More school. H. 3339 (Govan) calls for the required age of attending school to go from 17 to 18.

Shorter session. H. 3340 (Bannister) calls for a constitutional amendment to shorten legislative sessions.

Property tax. H. 3343 (Hart) calls for a constitutional amendment to change the way real property is valued and taxed, with many provisions.

Mopeds. H. 3345 (Lucas) calls for overhaul of state law involving mopeds.

Budget board. H. 3350 (McCoy) calls for the Legislative Audit Council to audit the state Budget and Control Board with several provisions.

Teacher suits. H. 3351 (McCoy) would allow teachers to bring civil actions against students who commit criminal offenses against teachers, with several provisions.

Identity theft. H. 3358 (J.E. Smith) would establish an identity theft reimbursement fund following the 2012 Department of Revenue hacking.

School safety. H. 3364 (Govan) would require each school to have a lockdown plan. H. 3365 (Govan) would require each school to employ a licensed psycho-educational specialist.

ENCYCLOPEDIA

Stono Rebellion

The Stono Rebellion was a violent albeit failed attempt by as many as one hundred slaves to reach St. Augustine and claim freedom in Spanish-controlled Florida. The uprising was South Carolina's largest and bloodiest slave insurrection. While not a direct challenge to the authority of the state, the Stono Rebellion nevertheless alerted white authorities to the dangers of slave revolt, caused a good deal of angst among planters, and resulted in legislation designed to control slaves and lessen the chances of insurrection by the colony's black majority population.

The revolt began on Sunday, September 9, 1739, on a branch of the Stono River in St. Paul's Parish, near Charleston. Several factors influenced slaves' timing of the rebellion, including a suspicious visit to Charleston by a priest who contemporaries thought was "employed by the Spaniards to procure a general Insurrection of the Negroes," a yellow fever epidemic that swept the area in August and September, and rumors of war between Spain and England. It is also probable that the Stono rebels timed their revolt to take place before September 29, when a provision requiring all white men to carry firearms to Sunday church services was to go into effect. In addition, several of the insurgents originated from the heavily Catholic Kongo, and their religious beliefs influenced the timing of the uprising.

Whatever the slaves' reasoning, the revolt began early on Sunday when the conspirators met at the Stono River. From there, they moved to Stono Bridge, broke into a store, equipped themselves with guns and powder, and killed two men. Guns in hand, they burned a house, killed three people, and then turned southward, reaching a tavern before sunup. There the insurgents discriminated, sparing the innkeeper because they considered him "a good man and kind to his slaves." The innkeeper's neighbors were less fortunate; the rebels burned four of their houses, ransacked another, and killed all the whites they found. Other slaves joined the rebellion, and some sources suggest that at this point the insurgents used drums, raised a flag or banner, and shouted "Liberty!" during their march southward.

At about eleven o'clock, Lieutenant Governor William Bull encountered the insurgents on his way to Charleston. Bull and his four companions "escaped & raised the Countrey." As the rebels proceeded southward, their ranks increased from sixty to as many as one hundred participants. According to a contemporary account, they then "halted in a field and set to dancing, Singing and beating Drums to draw more Negroes to them."

By late afternoon the original insurgents had covered ten miles. Some were undoubtedly tired, and others were likely drunk on stolen liquor. Confident in their numbers and Kongolese military training, the rebels paused in an open field near the Jacksonborough ferry in broad daylight. To rest and also to draw more slaves to their ranks, they decided to delay crossing the Edisto River.

By four o'clock between twenty and one hundred armed planters and militiamen, possibly alerted to the revolt by Bull's party, confronted the rebels in what was thereafter known as "the battlefield." The rebels distinguished themselves as courageous, even in the eyes of their enemies, but white firepower won the day. Some slaves who had been forced to join the rebellion were released, others were shot, and some were decapitated and their heads set on posts. Thirty members of the rebel force escaped, many of whom were hunted down the following week.

Whites perceived the Stono insurrection to have continued at least until the following Sunday, when militiamen encountered the largest group of disbanded rebels another thirty miles south. A second battle ensued, this one effectively ending the insurrection. Yet white fears echoed for months. Militia companies in the area remained on guard, and some planters deserted the Stono region in November "for their better Security and Defence against those Negroes which were concerned in that Insurrection who were not yet taken." Some of the rebels were rounded up in the spring of 1740, and one leader was not captured until 1742.

The rebellion resulted in efforts to curtail the activities of slaves and free blacks. The 1740 Negro Act made the manumission of slaves dependent on a special act of the assembly and mandated patrol service for every militiaman. The colony also imposed a prohibitive duty on the importation of new slaves in 1741 in an effort to stem the growth of South Carolina's majority black population.

About forty whites and probably as many blacks were killed during the Stono insurrection. The willingness of slaves to strike out for freedom with such force heightened anxieties among whites over internal security in the South Carolina slaveholding society for years to come.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Mark M. Smith. 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

Insuring our future

State politicos dig in over Medicaid expansion

By Bill Davis, senior editor

JAN. 18, 2013 -- To expand Medicaid or not to expand Medicaid, that is the question that bedeviled Columbia this week. The question probably will vex state leaders for for weeks to come as the General Assembly and Gov. Nikki Haley fight over what they think is best for South Carolinians.

The federal government has an amazing deal for South Carolina. It has sweetened the pot for expanding Medicaid, but with some strings as part of President Obama’s Affordable Care Act to provide health care improvements to states.

Under the federal program, South Carolina will be offered more than $10 billion in federal money if it comes up with a little more than $1 billion by 2014 to expand state Medicaid programs.

The expansion would be massive, as it would reduce the number of uninsured South Carolinians, according to state estimates, from more than 700,000 people to a mere 42,000.

Further, the state would receive the first three years for free.  After 2016, the state would begin to incrementally increase its payments until the expansion was fully implemented in 2020.

Haley argues the result would not necessarily be better health care outcomes, but a fiscal nightmare due to the unsustainability of the expansion’s future funding.

Democrats argue the $1 billion outlay would be a steal considering the number of South Carolinians would soon have health care insurance, which could result in massive health care savings going forward as emergency rooms could cease to be the de facto destination for the mildly-ill poor, and chronically expensive diseases and conditions could be more cheaply managed or avoided. (Some Democrats claim the state could take the free money for three years and then opt out, but political reality of giving someone something and taking it away makes this almost impossible.)

The problem is, both sides have a point.

No free lunch, some say

Haley’s argument for “opting out” of federal health care reform and Medicaid expansion can be boiled down to something like this:

Considering the bad job health care does in South Carolina, we shouldn’t expand state offerings, especially considering how much money it will cost in the future.

State Medicaid Czar Tony Keck, oversees the $6 billion program as director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, said that just giving someone a health care card will not automatically result in them becoming healthy. It will just insure more money for state health care system that under-delivers.

One House staffer, requesting anonymity, said that 40 percent of the state would receive some sort of state-subsidized health care program, crippling the free market in this state.

Keck, referencing state statistics, said 731,000 citizens currently were uninsured and that 43 percent of the state had private health care insurance, with more than 800,000 receiving Medicaid.

He said that if the state does opt out, and federal exchanges were made available to South Carolinians, then the number of uninsured would drop to 210,000 citizens, Medicaid recipients would increase roughly by 50 percent to 1.2 million citizens, with 433,000 being insured through the exchanges, and the privately insured dropping to just over 2.5 million residents.

But, Keck said, if Medicaid expansion were fully implemented, only 42,000 residents would be uninsured, with Medicaid recipients topping out at 1.5 million, while private pay insurance numbers would drop to 2.26 million, and 349,000 getting health care through the federal exchanges.

So what starts out as a rosy deal, seems to have a grim horizon, fiscally. Ernst Csiszar, a national insurance heavyweight and the state’s former commissioner of insurance, has said that the last five years of a person’s life is by far the most expensive, in terms of health care costs.

And this is where the upfront freebie offered by the government could cost the state big time in the future. People over the age of 65, in 1999, according to federal statistics, comprised roughly 16 percent of the state’s population.

By the year 2030, however, that number is expected to grow to more than 21 percent. That is a big balloon payment waiting to pop the state’s solvency, even with a 9-to-1 funding ration.

“I’d support Socialism, if it ever worked,” said Keck. “But it doesn’t.”

Haley was direct in her annual State of the State Address this week: "With such high costs and such poor outcomes, why would we throw more money at the system without first demanding improved efficiency, quality, and accessibility?"

Put people first, others say

Democrats, like state Rep. Bakari Sellers (D-Denmark), have argued from the humanist perspective, that this is too good of a deal to pass up for the sick, under-employed and uninsured citizens of the state. Especially considering the state’s lowly national health ratings.

“It’s the responsible thing to do,” Sellers said. “Tony Keck is simply regurgitating Tea Party talking points, and he is not centered on trying to make this a healthier state.”

Sellers continued: “He can say whatever he wants; he has insurance and doesn’t understand the viewpoints of those who don’t.”

Sellers and state Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D-Camden) echoed each other’s comments, and said that they are against federal tax dollars collected in South Carolina to fund expansion would go to benefit other states if South Carolina chose to not join in the federal health care reform.

Several Democrats, as well as health care observers and advocates for the poor, have pointed out that Gov. Jan Brewer, the conservative Republican in Arizona, reversed course recently and accepted the federal expansion.

When asked for comment this week at a press conference, Haley merely said that Brewer did “what she thought was best for her state,” before digging in her heels, reiterating her opposition to it in South Carolina.

One the well-heeled communities in the state will take to the streets later this month and march for expansion – doctors. The state Hospital Association is helping put on a “white coat” march on January 29.

The SCHA’s Allan Stalvey said expansion would help defray the cost of a decades-old federal law forcing hospitals to care for the sick in emergency rooms, regardless of their ability to pay.

Stalvey said Keck and Haley’s calls for “outcome-based” funding have already been heeded, and that his association’s members are already working to make the jump to that kind of reimbursement structure.

Crystal ball: While no one is advocating taking the feds free deal for three years before opting out, someone has got to figure out some sort of solution. And that solution will be complicated by what appears to be the three basic truths in health care in South Carolina. One, everyone wants the best care and they want it on demand. Two, no one wants to be told what to do, like lose weight or stop riding motorcycles, to help make that possible. And three, we all want someone else to pay for it.

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

Legislative Agenda

Admin bill may head to floor

The big mover expected to hit the floor of the Senate next week will be a bill to create a Department of Administration that will place it in the governor’s cabinet, but still give oversight to the legislature, according Sen. Larry Martin, the Pickens Republican who chairs the Senate Judiciary Committee. He said the bill will head to the floor of the Senate on Tuesday, but expected debate to continue through the next week.

  • House Ways and Means. Subcommittees will continue to take and discuss budget proposals in a long list of meetings and hearings next week. To see a full list, please refer to this Web page.

  • House Ag. The full committee will meet Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. in 410 Blatt to discuss committee rules and a proposed bill that would grant counties more limit the flexibility for counties in setting their own recycling and waste programs. Agenda.

  • House Judiciary. An election and ethics subcommittee will meet Wednesday at 11 a.m. in 516 Blatt to discuss a bill that would amend the state’s election laws. Agenda.

  • Senate Banking and Insurance. The full committee will meet Wednesday at 11 a.m. in 308 Gressette to discuss a series of bills and appoint the state’s director of the Department of Insurance. Agenda.

  • DNR. The agency’s board will meet  10 a.m. Thursday in 335 Dennis to discuss a full agenda from water planning to sea turtles.
Radar Screen

Problem ahead for Sanford?

When bids to overhaul the state’s cyber-security system are opened May 1, expect gasps. And then expect a budget line to appear to pay it. And then expect the cost to become a campaign issue used against former Gov. Mark Sanford in his bid to return to his former congressional seat, as the decision not to pay to encrypt vulnerable Revenue computer files happened on his watch.

Palmetto Politics

SOS (State of the State)

"Armed crazies and tyrants"

Some legislators in the House and Senate have had enough of the flurry of “nullification” bills that have been filed this year in both chambers.

The bills seek to nullify the federal government’s ability to regulate, among other things, health care expansion and guns in South Carolina. “Nullification,” if you recall your history, is a constitutional legal theory that got its test in a sectional crisis after South Carolina adopted an Ordinance of Nullification in 1832. One of the most effective proponents was South Carolina’s John C. Calhoun. More.

Speaking in 2013 on the condition of anonymity, several legislators have complained that since nullification never works, the new proposals are a waste of time in the face of the serious issues the General Assembly has to deal with this session.

State Sen. Lee Bright (R-Roebuck), who includes his membership in the Senate’s “William Wallace Caucus” on his official Statehouse bio, has filed a bill that would allow a firearm or its munitions to be exempt from federal law in the state if they were manufactured in South Carolina. Bright bristled this week at the faceless criticism of his colleagues, saying that it’s more than disingenuous to devote “the entire session” to issues that get lots of talk but only incremental legislative action, like creating a Department of Administration, tax and ethics reform, and restructuring – “We’ve been talking about restructuring ever since Gov. Campbell was in office.”

“I’m trying to protect the citizens of South Carolina,” Bright said Thursday. “I’m for arming South Carolinians to the hilt” as the best defense against “armed crazies and tyrants.”

SOS (State of the State)

Gov. Nikki Haley delivered her annual State of the State speech, her third, Wednesday, and returned to some familiar themes while uncorking a new possibility.

She took typically tough stances on refusing to expand Medicaid through the federal Affordable Care Act and refusing to raise the state’s relatively low gas tax, while also calling for more money to fix the state’s roadways. She also said government needed to become more business friendly, and called for the reduction in state regulations. And as she promised to earlier that afternoon in a press, she “celebrated” the long list of new jobs and business expansion the state can boast during her tenure.

She continued to eat crow, however, in discussing the information technology failures in the state government’s cyber-hacking incident, and, once again called for restructuring state government to a more executive branch-friendly model.

The new twist was a call for a statewide conversation about funding state public K-12 education, offering little by way of specifics, but an apparent openness to hear what can be done to equalize resources across the state. She offered no specifics, but said she wanted to start with a conversation with Statehouse leaders first, instead of squabbling first over a contentious bill.

SOS response

Haley’s opposition to raising the state gas tax hit a sour note with the chairman of the state Department of Transportation Commission, Eddie Adams. Adams fired off a response calling Haley’s remarks as being politically astute but not in the best interests of the state, by simply telling the people “want they want to hear” – not new taxes.

Adams, the owner of a petroleum wholesale and retail business, said the state’s roadways are at a critical point and charged that gas tax dollars are already being diverted from “bridges and highways” in part, to her own cabinet agencies. Adams charged that without addressing the state’s roadway funding issues, which others have reported could cost close to $30 billion over the next two decades, the state won’t have sustained economic development.

Commentary

Hey tailgaters -- back off!

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

JAN. 18, 2013 -- Attention highway tailgaters. This commentary is for you.

1. Back off. You’re not going to get where you’re going any quicker at 70 mph by being one car length or less behind somebody else. 

2. Stop being jerks. You are increasing the danger on our highways by being too close to the car ahead of you. If you don’t watch out, state or local law enforcement authorities might pull you over and write you a well-deserved four-point ticket for following too closely.

Tailgating -- not the kind with fried chicken, barbecue and beer before a football game -- seems to be on the increase. Just the other day at 6:30 a.m., I watched several cars hurdling down an Interstate above the speed limit, all of them with just one car length between them. 

Folks, this is crazy driving. If any one of those cars had to stop suddenly, all of them would have been in a huge pile-up causing injuries and potentially death.

In 2012, some 833 people died on South Carolina’s highways, according to the S.C. Highway Patrol. That’s up six deaths from the previous year, but down more than 200 from the 1,052 people who died on state roadways in 2007.  Over the last 10 years, more than 9,700 people have died on South Carolina highways. That’s more than the number of people who live in Georgetown, S.C.

 Also in 2012, a report by CarInsuranceComparison.com ranked South Carolina’s highways as the most dangerous in the country based on six factors, including traffic fatalities and the percentage of drivers not wearing seatbelts.

The amount of damage caused by people who tailgate is enormous. In 2009, state data show some 2,979 people were injured and two killed in wrecks when the primary contributing factor was following too closely. There was property damage in another 5,929 cases. The annual economic cost due to motor vehicle crashes every year in South Carolina is more than $3.3 billion -- yes, billion with a “B,” according to Advocates for Highway and Auto Safety.

“Our law firm gets calls from thousands of persons who were injured in car accident every year,” said North Charleston attorney Ken Harrell of the Joye Law Firm. “While I don’t have the exact percentages, the largest percentage of these cases involves someone who was rear-ended by another car.

“When someone drives aggressively behind another car, it’s not a matter of whether they’re going to cause an accident, but when.”

S.C. Highway Patrol Sgt. Bob Beres knows exactly how tailgaters can hurt people. Not only has he seen it when on patrol, but he was away from work for two months after a tailgater smashed into the rear of his semi-marked patrol car near the intersection of Interstates 26 and 526 in North Charleston. (Yes, a tailgater actually ran into a trooper.)

“People are impatient,” he said. “They don’t want to wait in traffic. They want you out of the way. It’s aggressive driving.”

Beres said there seemed to be two kinds of tailgaters. The first is simply impatient. The second is late and seems to think that if he or she tailgates, they’ll not be late.

“Both of them are dangerous.”

Why? Because the closer that a tailgater is to a car ahead of it, the less time he has to stop his car safely.   A rule of thumb is there needs to be at least two seconds between your car and the car in front. 

If someone is tailgating your vehicle on the Interstate, Beres cautioned against slowing down or tapping on the brakes. Instead, you should pull into another lane and let them by. 

The other thing you can do is to dial *HP on your cell phone and report the driver. Beres said you should try to describe the vehicle and its location and, if you can, provide the license tag number. A dispatcher will notify the nearest trooper or law enforcement agency.

We encourage law enforcement officers to write more tickets to tailgaters. Having a driver’s license is a privilege. Don’t lose it for being a tailgating jerk.

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

Spotlight

S.C. Association of Counties

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Statehouse Report to you at no cost. This week's featured underwriter is the South Carolina Association of Counties. The SCAC was chartered on June 22, 1967, and is the only organization dedicated to statewide representation of county government in South Carolina. Membership includes all 46 counties, which are represented by elected and appointed county officials who are dedicated to improving county government. SCAC is a nonpartisan, nonprofit organization that operates with a full-time staff in its Columbia offices. It is governed by a 29-member Board of Directors composed of county officials from across South Carolina. The Association strives to “Build Stronger Counties for Tomorrow” by working with member counties in the fields of research, information exchange, educational promotion and legislative reporting. More: http://www.sccounties.org.
My Turn

Enact Obama's comprehensive gun control plan

By Elliott Brack
Editor and publisher, GwinnettForum.com
Republished with permission

JAN. 18, 2013 -- The United States agenda has moved from pure partisan politics over routine problem items like the budget, the war in Afghanistan and the economy, to another concern which we hope doesn't degrade into the partisan arena: the concern of our nation about mass violence and guns.


Brack

President Obama's key new mission is to get the Congress to become more reasonable and move forward on ways to make our country internally safer. The big stumbling block on the horizon is the National Rifle Association (NRA) and their intractable position on matters relating to gun control.

The Congress, and in particular the Republican-controlled house, seems to be a ventriloquist's dummy for the NRA, parroting the gun control forces. The Republicans seem not to realize that the mood of the country has shifted dramatically toward adopting positions more reasonable to control rampant shootings.

As Mother Jones says: "It is perhaps too easy to forget how many times" there have been mass shootings. In 2012 alone, there were 16 incidents of mass shootings, leaving at least 88 people dead.

Yes, some are in far-from-here places. But you must remember that the first mass shooting of 2012 came at a Korean health spa on Buford Highway in Norcross, where five people died last February.

Some of the other mass shootings in 2012 included:

  • February 27: three students in Chardon, Ohio, killed by a classmate.
  • April 2: in Oakland, Calif., seven killed at Oikos University.
  • May 29: in Seattle, Wash., six killed at a coffee shop.
  • July 9: in Wilmington, Del., three killed at a soccer tournament.
  • July 20: in Aurora, Colo., 12 killed and 58 wounded at a movie house.
  • August 5: in suburban Milwaukee, Wis., seven dead inside a Sikh Temple.
  • September 17: in Minneapolis, Minn., six dead at gunman's former work site.
  • December 11: in Portland, Ore., three die at Clackamas Town Center Mall.
  • December 14: in Newtown, Conn., 27 dead, including 20 first graders.

Then on Jan. 16, 2013, two are dead at a shooting at the Hazard (Ky.) Community and Technical College.

  • Read a Time Line of Worldwide School and Mass Shootings here.

Now comes President Obama, with a comprehensive plan to reduce such incidents. Highlights of his plan include:

  • Require criminal background checks for all gun sales.
  • Take four executive actions to ensure information on dangerous individuals is available to the background check system.
  • Reinstate and strengthen the assault weapons ban.
  • Restore the 10-round limit on ammunition magazines.
  • Protect police by finishing the job of getting rid of armor-piercing bullets.
  • Give law enforcement additional tools to prevent and prosecute gun crime.
  • End the freeze on gun violence research.
  • Make our schools safer with more school resource officers and school counselors, safer climates, and better emergency response plans.
  • Help ensure that young people get the mental health treatment they need. (Ensure health insurance plans cover mental health benefits.)

Will his plan work? We hope so. Will it be easy? No.

Yet the President has acted, calling on the Congress to take "common sense steps" to act. The president has said: "While no law or set of laws will end gun violence, it is clear that the American people want action. If even one child's life can be saved, then we need to act. Now is the time to do the right thing for our children, our communities, and the country we love."

We agree.

Elliott Brack, retired associate publisher of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, is editor and publisher of GwinnettForum.com.

Feedback

Thoughtful article

To the editor:

Your article in the January 4th Upstate Business Journal [“State can take lead in reducing gun violence”] is one of the most thoughtful that I have seen on this issue. Thanks.  

-- Butler Derrick, Charleston, S.C.
(Derrick served for 20 years in the U.S. Congress as a Democratic representative of the people of South Carolina’s Third District.)

Suggestions are on target

To the editor:

Thank you for your excellent article in the Greenville Journal concerning States taking lead on gun restrictions. Your suggestions were "right on," very reasonable and well written.   Thank you for your "level head" in this heated debate.

-- Deanna Allen McGinnis, Greenville, S.C.

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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

Mourning Ted Stern

Google. Hooray to $600 million more in investment in South Carolina that was announced today.  More.

Biz. An IBM-published report placed South Carolina tops in the nation for attracting jobs through foreign investment. (What they don’t know is that we consider people from Ohio to be “foreigners.”) More.

Gas. Piedmont Natural Gas has asked to reduce some of its power rates by nearly 10 percent. More.

Diversity. The S.C. Air National Guard got its first black general. More.

Congressional candidates. State Sen. Larry Grooms (R-Bonneau) and former Gov. Mark Sanford this week are among the many who have announced their candidacy for the congressional seat vacated by U.S. Sen. Tim Scott (R-S.C.)

Stern.  We mourn the passing of Theodore Sanders Stern, president emeritus of the College of Charleston.  Stern, a great South Carolinian who transformed the college, died today at age 100.  More.

Foreclosures. As the national rate of foreclosures dropped last year, South Carolina’s increased; especially in Dorchester County, where there was a 28.8-percent increase over the previous year. Yuk. More.

Boeing. The FAA has grounded all American service 787s in light of continuing battery fires. Some of the Dreamliners are manufactured in the Lowcountry. More.

Stegelin

Circus is back in town


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Statehouse Report

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