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ISSUE 12.19
May. 10, 2013

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Index

News :
Details, details, details
Legislative Agenda :
From clean-up to the budget
Radar Screen :
Bumpy road
Palmetto Politics :
Sales tax suit rebuffed
Commentary :
Sanford win pre-determined by gerrymandering
My Turn :
Employment discrimination is still discrimination
Feedback :
Gotta beef? Send a letter.
Scorecard :
What the scorecard says about Mark Sanford
Stegelin :
Looking ahead
Number of the Week :
$16.5 billion
Megaphone :
The outside looking in
Tally Sheet :
Search for legislative bills
Encyclopedia :
State has one of oldest libraries

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EDITOR'S NOTE

What's Next, South Carolina?

Statehouse Report will host two conferences at the end of May to explore civic engagement with experts discussing South Carolina's economic, educational,  governmental and health care systems. If you live in the Pee Dee, learn how to join us May 29 in Florence.  Sumter-area residents can join us May 30 in Sumter

We're planning other sessions of the "What's Next, South Carolina?" conference series later this year in Beaufort, Charleston and Columbia.  More online.

NUMBER OF THE WEEK

$16.5 billion

Visitors to the state spend a record $16.5 billion here last year, according to state numbers. More.

MEGAPHONE

The outside looking in

“Heaven only knows what that says about Congress. Heaven only knows what it says about us, the voters. We obviously would prefer to stay true to a political party and put a complete scoundrel in office than to veer off for even a one round of balloting and elect someone who is clean for even as much as a single term.

“Voters are dreaming the impossible dream if they really believe, if they honestly think, that immoral men and women will return this nation to the greatness it once knew. That will never happen when the people in control are unethical and thieves.”

-- From a May 9 editorial by the Brunswick (Ga.) News on this week’s congressional victory by Gov. Mark Sanford. Full editorial.

TALLY SHEET

Search for legislative bills

Find any bill through these links:

ENCYCLOPEDIA

State has one of oldest libraries

The Charleston Library Society is the third-oldest institutional library in the United States. On December 28, 1748, a group of Charlestonians met to establish a private subscription library to support education and the arts and sciences. The society secured a charter of incorporation in 1755 and established a tradition in which the colony's royal governors were society presidents. This tradition lasted until the Revolutionary War. By 1778 the society's book and periodical collection numbered five thousand volumes. Society members promoted a colonial college in 1770 that eventually became the College of Charleston. Three years later, in 1773, the society started a natural science collection that became the Charleston Museum.

The Charleston fire of 1778 destroyed all but a handful of the society's books. In 1863 the society's librarian sent one-half of the library's collections to Columbia, but they were destroyed there in 1865. In 1874 Charleston's Apprentice Library Society (founded in 1824) and the Library Society merged their resources. When the South Carolina Jockey Club disbanded in 1900, it transferred its property to the Library Society. The society sold the Washington Racecourse and established an endowment that has continued to provide revenue into the twenty-first century. In 1914 the society constructed a new building at 164 King Street. Eighty-two years later, in 1996, the society expanded into a large adjacent building, which houses a children's reading room, audio and video collections, and offices.

Among the collections of the Charleston Library Society are rare books, pamphlets, a manuscript collection, and the society's records. The most significant collection is the society's newspaper files, which contain the world's largest and most complete collection of eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Charleston newspapers. Society members have free access to the collections, including its circulating library, and nonmembers pay a daily research fee.

Excerpted from the entry by Alexander Moore. 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

Details, details, details

Legislators confront tough issues in special, one-year laws

By Bill Davis, senior editor

MAY 10, 2013 -- This year’s collection of budget provisos, the special one-year laws that abridge current state statutes, is a devilish nest of details.

While bigger efforts in the General Assembly merit new bills to be debated on the floors of the House and Senate, lawmakers every year tack on smaller provisos to the state budget package that carry not only the power of statutes, but usually have direct fiscal effects to boot. [See all budget provisos.]

Any proviso can come up for discussion during debate on the floors of the House and Senate chambers. But the more ticklish ones often draw out budget debates and discussions in a budget compromise committee that is comprised each year of three House and Senate members who meet to hash out the state’s final annual budget.

In the coming week, the Senate will debate its version of the budget package, including provisos and elements of the House budget plan.

Some critics contend the proviso process is a cloaking device that allows legislators to make an end run around transparency and accountability efforts. While some supporters agree that provisos can offer slippery slope, they also point out that the measures also provide some flexibility needed to keep South Carolina government rolling.

This year’s crop of provisos are a combination of carry-overs from previous years as well as few important new wrinkles that legislators have inserted subtly as a way to handle vexing governmental questions, such as how invasive the state government become in what welfare program recipients eat, or who should get to use the state’s planes and under what circumstances.

Here are some important provisos from this year’s bunch:

Education:  Reducing student funding again

It has become a yearly ritual of late for legislators to talk tough about supporting public education during the session. But when it comes to budget time, they use a proviso to gut the amount the state contributes to local K-12 education via a per-pupil student base cost contribution. This year was no different, though slightly improved over past years.

State law requires that the budget include roughly $2,700 per pupil, but this year a proviso (1.3) would drop that amount to just over $2,100. At first glance that’s a huge reduction, but consider, it’s only a small portion of the overall funding of an individual student - - with local and federal funding pushing the overall number closer to $11,000, according to state sources.

Consider, too, that the $2,100 is a marked improvement from a few years ago, when the Great Recession gouged  troughs in state coffers and the per-pupil amount was a relatively paltry $1,800.

Another proviso (1.83) continued funding for a pilot K-4 program for students living in districts with high poverty rates. This continuation dovetails with an expected, and long-anticipated ruling from the S.C. Supreme Court regarding the state providing an “adequate” educational opportunity to every corner of the state.

Teachers can breathe a collective sigh of relief, as both the House and Senate want to continue to fund a stipend being awarded to teachers who become National Board certified. While the $7,500 doled out amount to those who made the grade prior to 2010 will shrink to $5,000 who did so afterward, this stipend is always on the chopping block.

Health and Human Services: Shifting paradigms

With state health care program costs continuing to outstrip education dollars, legislators and officials have kept a keen eye for where to cut.

Overall, the state Department of Health and Human Services is making an effort to shift the state health care programs from a “fee-for-service” model to “health care outcomes” paradigm through which providers like hospitals and doctors would be budgeted amounts to work with certain patients and maladies. Any overages in that system would come from the providers, and not the state, which would tend to shift the risk and expense involved in health care from the state.

In that vein, DHHS has asked for $35 million in rate incentives to hospitals that participate in health care outcomes initiatives (33.34).

Legislators in both chambers have agreed with a request from DHHS to delete a program (33.28) that brought state-provided in-home care to some Medicaid recipients in the hopes of reducing emergency room visits.         

Social Services: Sex education in the spotlight

The Department of Social Services will likely continue to be a lightning rod for criticism and discussion, thanks in part to a proviso (38.25) that would direct half of one budgetary line item for combating teenage pregnancy be directed to not-for-profits that teach abstinence-first sex education curriculum.

Additionally, another proviso (38.20) would remove requirements for abstinence-first programs to follow state sex education curriculum guidelines.

Legislators seemed to have given themselves a choice with one proviso (38.26) when it comes to feeding the poor. Instead of requiring strict nutritional guidelines for those receiving state financial assistance to feed their families and themselves, as was debated earlier in the session, this proviso would issue coupons that would double recipients’ buying power on fresh fruits and vegetables.

Department of Commerce: Overtime issue

One of the big pushes in the private sector nationally has employers asking, or requiring, workers who pull overtime one week to accept compensatory time off in the future instead of increased overtime pay. State governments around the nation are struggling how to handle this issue too.

The state Department of Commerce has asked for a proviso (62.19) that workers in that cabinet agency should be paid for hours worked and not be required to take off time in the future.

Budget and Control Board: Flexibility

With the state Budget and Control Board’s uncertain future as the House debates a Senate bill this week to create a Department of Administration, it was perhaps no surprise that there were a number of provisos this week that seemed to give the Board some employment flexibility.

First was proviso (101.7) that would allow the board to delete any job position that had been open for more than 12 months. Then there was a proviso (101.22) that limited board pay increases this year to only 3 percent.

The budget board angered the General Assembly last summer by adjusting how much state health care insurance recipients had to fork over in monthly payments and deductibles. The legislators seemed to be reasserting their domain with several provisos.

First, a proviso (105.6) called for the continuation of a study into the benefits to the state health care plan to differentiate between enrollees who were tobacco users and those who were not. Another proviso (105.7) limited the amount of health care premiums and co-pays recipients could be shouldered with, at 6.8 percent and 20 percent, respectively.

Misc: Investments and planes

Speaking of squabbles, one proviso (111.107) would require the state Retirement Investment Commission to submit a plan on its future salary bonuses to the House Ways and Means, and Senate Finance committees. State Treasurer Curtis Loftis has made numerous accusations about mishandling of bonuses at the commission.

And finally, proviso 111.278 would require a legislator who wants to use the state plane to receive permission from either the House Speaker or President Pro Tempore of the Senate, as well as from a member of a state board/ commission/ committee in the executive branch. To do otherwise would become an ethics violation.

Crystal ball:  Not all of these will survive the Senate floor debate next week. Not all will survive the coming conference committee with a trio of representatives and senators each. Not all will survive Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto pen. But the provisos give a unique insight to the mind of the body politic that is the S.C. General Assembly.

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

Legislative Agenda

From clean-up to the budget

With the House back in from its fourth furlough week, debate on the floor will center the creation of a Department of Administration. Committee work will focus on mop-up efforts on bills that will reemerge next year.

In the Senate, all eyes will be on the budget as that chamber debates its package for the coming fiscal year. The Senate will open Monday to begin debate. With the budget on the floor, very few committee meetings have been scheduled in the Senate this week of major importance.

  • House Judiciary. The full committee will meet Tuesday at 2:30 p.m. or an hour and a half after adjournment in 516 Blatt to discuss a full agenda that includes bills dealing with unmanned flying drones, reconstituting the Board of State Canvassers, and steroids. Agenda.
Radar Screen

Bumpy road

Resurfacing the state’s infrastructure – roads, bridges and the like – will continue to be a tough issue well into next year’s legislative session as no legislator is satisfied with any other legislator’s plan: Taxes are bad; taxes are good. Defining specific funding line items in the state budget are a good idea; dedicated line items don’t go far enough. This will take some time.

Palmetto Politics

Sales tax suit rebuffed

Nobody expected the state Supreme Court to fully agree with a lawsuit seeking to do away with state sales tax exemptions, which could bring in more than $3 billion in tax collections annually. But what the lawsuit, filed by a father of two children too young for school, was expected to do was to produce a pathway to confront the exemptions in the future. And that seems to have happened.

In recent years, the legislature has made some less-than-half-hearted attempts to broach the subject. But the most recent effort in the House resulted in roughly $14 million in exemption rollbacks. Not very inspiring.

But Chief Justice Jean Toal seemed to lay out a path for addressing the huge cuts individually, when she said she didn’t believe that each individual one could stand up to scrutiny.

Attention lawyers, politicians and policymakers: united they stand; divided they come off the books.

Last gasp on ethics?

The Senate Judiciary Committee met until 8:30 p.m. Thursday night to push through an ethics reform bill that will be ready for floor debate next week.

“It was a ‘Thrilla in Manila,’” said Judiciary chairman state Sen. Larry Martin (R-Pickens) Friday morning. “We had to go through 40 or 50 amendments, but we got it done.”

The bill would force legislators to define and divulge more of their various streams of income, and it would stop them from policing themselves. One of the concerns over ethics reform, other than whether it would actually happen this year despite election rhetoric, was constitutional. Some of the plans put forward would create boards or commissions charged with policing the legislators’ actions and allegations against them. But if that board or commission were housed in either the judicial or executive branches, it could violate separation of powers doctrine in the state constitution. The Senate plan would beef up the existing Ethics Commission.

But the window for debate is closing, as the session is in its final weeks and the budget will dominate floor debate for at least next week in the Senate.

Commentary

Sanford win pre-determined by gerrymandering

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

MAY 10, 2013 -- If state Democrats want to win big elections like the one they lost Tuesday on the coast, they’re going to have to get busy and retake control of the state Senate.

Why? Because the outcome of Tuesday’s election was practically determined two years before the special contest between GOP former Gov. Mark Sanford and challenger Elizabeth Colbert Busch. Why? Because constitutionally-required redistricting to even population changes after the 2010 census made it tough for any Democrat to win.

In the First Congressional District, for example, voting age blacks comprised just 18.2 percent of voters. Huh, you might wonder? On the coast where African Americans comprise 30 percent of Charleston County, 26 percent of Dorchester County, 25 percent of Berkeley County and 20 percent of Beaufort County?

It’s because of how congressional district lines were gerrymandered by the General Assembly. An adjacent district -- the so-called “black district” -- of U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn finds blacks comprising 55.2 percent of the voting population.   If, for example, Clyburn’s district were made of only 45 percent of black voters (which still all but guarantee his victory) and the First District were drawn in such a way to have 28 percent of black voters, Colbert Busch probably would have won.

It’s the same story all over the state, a story brought to you by Republicans who carved district lines in state House, Senate and congressional districts to maximize the number of Republicans elected. [To be fair, Democrats did little different when they were in charge.] As we wrote in 2011, reapportionment is the political equivalent of the fox guarding the hen house because the very people who redraw the lines are those in office.  [The percentages of blacks and whites in House districts are shown at right.  Click here for similar Senate figures.]

In the late 1980s, Gov. Carroll Campbell actively persuaded Democratic House members to join the GOP. By the early 1990s when it was time for redistricting, an emboldened GOP approached black Democrats and made a deal that guaranteed them a higher percentage of black voters in their district, thereby making it easier for them to win reelection. In turn, the GOP got whiter “white districts.” 

Just look today at the 124 House seats. Some 30 districts have black voting percentages of greater than 50 percent. All are Democratic. Just five are represented by white Democrats. Six other districts have black voting percentages of at least 40 percent; two are represented by blacks.   

There are 10 House Democrats -- all white -- who represent districts with less than 40 percent of black voters, from Leon Stavrinakis of Charleston (23.2 percent black) and Beth Bernstein of Columbia (26.4 percent black) to Jimmy Bales of Eastover (39.5 percent black).

It’s not much different in the state Senate where nine of 46 districts have a black voting age population of more than 50 percent. Sen. John Scott (D-Columbia) has a district that’s 63.8 percent black, while an adjacent district for Senate President Pro Tem John Courson (R-Columbia) is 18.7 percent black.

If Democrats want to have more of a chance in the Statehouse -- which would make the whole governmental system more competitive and vigorous -- then they’re going to have to have more of a say in the redistricting process. To do so, they have to win at least one of the two chambers. The House is so overwhelmingly Republican that it would be tough, but a switch of six seats in the Senate would return it to Democratic control.

Furthermore, what needs to happen in the next redistricting process is for black districts to get less black and white districts to have more people of color. If that were to happen, political races would be more competitive, which would mean more vigorous debates and a step away from predetermined policy solutions that skew Republican.

The effect that all of this has had on our political system is truly spectacular and depressing. A majority of Republicans and Democrats in office run for re-election virtually unopposed because the numbers are in their favor to win. Turnover of seat tends to happen when someone retires, dies or decides to run for something else. 

That needs to change.

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

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My Turn

Employment discrimination is still discrimination

By Victoria Middleton
Special to Statehouse Report

MAY 10, 2013 -- Employment discrimination against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender workers is pervasive and harmful. It violates core American values of fairness and equality by discriminating against qualified individuals based on characteristics unrelated to the job.

At the end of April, House Bill 4025 was introduced by Rep. James Smith. It already has co-sponsors in the House – Representatives R.L. Brown, Cobb-Hunter, Rutherford and Whipper. The legislation creates an equal playing field for LGBT employees by giving them the same protection that already exists under our state’s law regarding discrimination on the basis of sex, race or religion. H. 4025 would protect all people, gay or straight, from unfair treatment on the basis of sexual orientation and gender identity. This bill closes a loophole in our law that guarantees equal treatment of certain groups of citizens who have historically been treated unequally.

 Despite the remarkable progress – cultural, political and legal – that LGBT people have made in recent years, there are currently 34 states that lack workplace non-discrimination laws that are fully inclusive of LGBT people. South Carolina is one of them. This patchwork of protection continues to leave LGBT people vulnerable to workplace discrimination.

"The vast majority of Americans, nearly 90 percent, believe that gay people should be protected from being unfairly fired."
At ACLU nationwide, we hear the stories every day from our clients and the tens of thousands of LGBT people who contact legal organizations like ours every year. Hard-working people are fired for reasons that have nothing to do with job performance. Fired solely or just because a person is gay or transgender. Refused jobs or harassed for the same reason. In a country that values fairness and equal treatment under the law, we believe the current situation is unacceptable. 

It’s well documented that this kind of discrimination hurts American workers who are gay. The Williams Institute at UCLA School of Law determined in 2008 that 20 percent to 57 percent of transgender people surveyed since the mid-1990s had reported having experienced unfair employment practices based on their gender identity. Similarly, they found that 42% of lesbian, gay, and bisexual people reported that they had experienced work-related unfair treatment at some point in their lives, with 27 percent having experienced problems between just 2003 and 2008. Without legal protections, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people can be and are fired just because of who they are and not because of how well they do their job.

And yet the vast majority of Americans, nearly 90 percent, believe that gay people should be protected from being unfairly fired. In fact, corporations have taken the lead in acknowledging that firing people for being gay is wasteful and it is good for business to hire and retain employees based on the quality of their work. A growing number of employers -- from Fortune 500 companies (IBM, Chevron, Raytheon, American Airlines, WalMart, Apple, Ford, Goldman Sachs, PepsiCo, Sears, and many others) to smaller businesses -- have adopted their own policies of non-discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. While these policies reflect the good intentions of many employers around the country and in this state, they are not necessarily enforceable and do not apply in all workplaces. Only this type of law will ensure that LGBT employees receive equal treatment, no matter where they work.

If it passes, this law would ensure that hardworking people in South Carolina have the chance to earn a living and provide for themselves and their families, without fear of being unfairly fired for reasons that have nothing to do with job performance. We applaud those House representatives who stepped up with alacrity to sponsor the legislation, in the name of fairness for all South Carolinians.   It’s time for our state to join those that protect LGBT workers from employment discrimination, and we will work to ensure that H. 4025 passes.

Victoria Middleton is executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina.

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Scorecard

What the scorecard says about Mark Sanford

Lottery. Revenues are up $27 million from last year, which means more money for state schools, libraries and students – stupid stuff like that. More.

DEW. The state’s unemployment office reported that overpayments are down and collections are up. More.

Diversity. An openly gay contestant is in the running for Miss South Carolina. More.

Sanford. Giving a “thumbs up/thumbs down” to former Gov. Mark Sanford’s congressional victory is simply an act of desperate optimism.

Foreclosures. National rates may be at a six-year low, but South Carolina’s rate in April increased 20 percent over previous year. More.

GOP. A Bluffton-area club is raffling off an AR-15 rifle and ammo. Way to not fan the flame, buddies. More.

Pensions. Cops and firefighters will have to pay more toward their state pension than other workers, thanks to a vote this week by the Budget and Control Board. More.
Stegelin

Looking ahead


RECENT STEGELIN: 5/3 | 4/26 | 4/19 | 4/12
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Statehouse Report

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/.