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ISSUE 12.26
Jun. 28, 2013

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Index

News :
Wind power more than hot air for S.C.
Legislative Agenda :
Quiet time at the Statehouse
Radar Screen :
Headed out of the office
Palmetto Politics :
Big win for early childhood education
Commentary :
Don't tread on voting rights
My Turn :
2013: When ethics reform became a joke
Feedback :
Send us a letter
Scorecard :
Up for education; down for voting rights
Stegelin :
Second opinion
Megaphone :
Liberté, égalité, fraternité
Tally Sheet :
Search SC legislative bills
Encyclopedia :
Fort Moultrie

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EDITOR'S NOTE

Have a safe 4th

We wish you a safe, happy and celebratory Fourth of July.
 
Next week, we'll publish Statehouse Report as usual, but will offer a scaled-down edition due to the holiday.

NUMBER OF THE WEEK

45 of 50

That’s how South Carolina ranks when it comes to the well-being of our children, according to the 2013 Kids Count survey from the Annie E. Casey Foundation. This year’s low ranking continues a trend that’s been around for more than two decades since the survey began -- being in the bottom quintile of state rankings. Worse news: We dropped from 43rd worst place for children’s well-being to 45th, a sign, according to critics, of the Palmetto State moving in the wrong direction. More | Read the full report.

MEGAPHONE

Liberté, égalité, fraternité

“I always knew you all had given us the Statue of Liberty, but I did not know you gave us liberty.”

-- Retired U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings, recalling how he learned from former French President Jacques Chirac that more French soldiers were on the battlefield than colonial soldiers when Lord Cornwallis surrendered to George Washington at Yorktown in 1783. More.

TALLY SHEET

Search SC legislative bills

While the House and Senate met this week to consider gubernatorial vetoes, no substantive legislation was introduced.  Several honorary resolutions, however, were introduced. 

Look at what's in the hopper for 2014:

ENCYCLOPEDIA

Fort Moultrie

This was the site of the June 28, 1776, American victory in the Revolutionary War. Fort Moultrie I, the Revolutionary War-era fort, was replaced in 1798 by Fort Moultrie II, which was followed in 1809 by Fort Moultrie III, which served as a military post until 1947.

Fort Moultrie I was located on Sullivan's Island at the mouth of Charleston harbor. Construction began in February 1776 on the then-unnamed palmetto log and sand fort. A square fort with corner bastions, its walls were five hundred feet long, more than ten feet high, and sixteen feet apart, with the space between filled with sand. On June 28, 1776, Colonel William Moultrie commanded the half-completed fort, which mounted thirty-one cannons and a garrison of more than four hundred soldiers. In the nine-and-one-half-hour battle, nine British warships with almost three hundred cannons were defeated. After the victory, the fort was completed and named in Moultrie's honor. After the war the fort was not garrisoned and fell into disrepair.

Completed in 1798, the second fort was a five-sided brick, timber, and earthen structure with walls seventeen feet high and sixteen mounted cannons. Built near the site of the 1776 fortification, Fort Moultrie II was almost destroyed by a hurricane in 1804.

The third Fort Moultrie was completed in 1809 on the site of the 1798 fort. It had five fifteen-feet-high brick walls and originally mounted forty cannons. When South Carolina seceded on December 20, 1860, Fort Moultrie III was commanded by Major Robert Anderson, who transferred his command to Fort Sumter on the night of December 26. South Carolina troops moved into Fort Moultrie the next day, and on April 12, 1861, it played a major role in the bombardment of Fort Sumter.

Though heavily damaged by Union bombardments during the Civil War, Fort Moultrie played a key role in the Confederate defense of Charleston harbor. After the war, the fort was repaired but not garrisoned, and by 1887 it was once more in need of major repairs. In 1897 the fort was again garrisoned. After the Spanish-American War in 1898 concrete batteries were built and other improvements were made inside the fort. The army also purchased land on Sullivan's Island to construct more batteries and other structures, establishing the Fort Moultrie Reservation. During World War I as many as three thousand army personnel lived on the reservation. After the war it served as a U.S. Army National Guard and Civilian Conservation Corps training facility.

During World War II the garrison was increased and its defenses improved. While no combat occurred, German U-boats mined the harbor entrance in September 1942. In 1944 an army-navy command post was constructed inside Fort Moultrie to provide a single location to direct the artillery defending the harbor and control the shipping. The Fort Moultrie Reservation was deactivated in 1947 and its buildings sold to private individuals or given to the state of South Carolina. In 1960 Fort Moultrie was transferred by the state to Fort Sumter National Monument, a unit of the National Park Service.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Richard W. Hatcher III. 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

Wind power more than hot air for S.C.

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

JUNE 28, 2013 -- Within just a few years, wind energy could be powering a much larger chunk of South Carolina’s coastal homes, experts say. And the energy is there for our taking -- we’ve just got to go and get it.

Studies have shown that offshore wind is a real potential for South Carolina,” said state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, who will offer keynote remarks July 11 at the S.C. Clean Energy Summit in Columbia. “I think we ought to get our act together to see how we can build jobs and infrastructure around that sector in appropriate places offshore.

“We’re a state that needs to be charging toward any opportunities that present themselves.”

South Carolina has the offshore capacity to be a wind energy leader, said Brian O’Hara, president of the Southeastern Coastal Wind Coalition in Raleigh, N.C.

“It turns out among all East Coast states, South Carolina has the second largest shallow water offshore wind resource,” he said, adding that the state has the overall potential to generate about 130 gigawatts of electricity a year if it could harvest all of its offshore wind for energy. And while that’s unlikely, it’s interesting to note that the amount of electricity needed to power the entire state is about one-fifth of all of the wind off our coast. 

O’Hara explained that South Carolina’s ocean wind farm of the future likely would be at least 10 miles offshore and relatively invisible to beachgoers on hazy, summer days (If you extend your arm with your thumb sticking up and then squint with one eye, a wind tower would probably be the size of your thumbnail on a horizon. But -- and this is a big but -- you would only see the wind turbines about 20 percent of the time in the summer because of the haze.)

Not only is the renewable resource available for the taking, but South Carolina has some competitive advantages in growing a wind energy economy. First, construction prices are relatively low in the region. Second, the state has years of diverse manufacturing experience that it can tap now to grow the new industry. Finally, Clemson University’s state-of-the-art wind turbine testing facility is the largest in the world, which is bringing lots of manufacturers here to try out their latest offshore wind generators. And with their visits, they might find an East coast home.

“This is a technology that when it happens on the East coast, the supply chains for the technology are necessarily going to have to be in the coastal states,” O’Hara said. “It’s an opportunity to bring jobs here.”

More than 2,900 people in South Carolina worked last year in the wind energy supply chain, which generated an estimated $530 million in total output, according to a 2012 economic impact study by Clemson.

But if South Carolina starts to develop an offshore wind farm that eventually can produce 1,000 megawatts of electricity -- enough to power 250,000 South Carolina homes a year --  the economic payoff will be tremendous, the study said. 

Over a 10-year period starting in 2016, the wind farm could generate 3,329 annual total jobs, $163.1 million in wages per year, $270.7 million in annual output and $51.2 million in state and local government revenues. Over the decade, state workers would reap almost $2 billion in wages, $2 billion in disposable income and $3.7 billion in output. State and local governments could get up to $616 million in revenues.

MORE INFORMATION

Learn more about Santee Cooper’s renewable energy efforts.

Renewable energy resources from S.C. Energy Office

S.C. Clean Energy Summit, July 11, Columbia

Southeastern Coastal Wind Conference, Sept. 11-12, Charleston

Wind energy, however, will cost about twice as much to produce than what’s generated in traditional coal, nuclear and natural gas facilities, said Santee Cooper’s Mollie Gore. 

“Santee Cooper does believe there is a potential for utility-scale offshore wind energy in South Carolina, and Santee Cooper has been researching the potential for nearly a decade.” 

So far, the state-owned utility has spent $1 million studying wind’s potential, she said. An offshore meteorological project with a turbine is expected to cost $4 million, she added.

Gore said the utility would balance its continued research with its central mission of providing low-cost, reliable electricity.

“As a public power utility, it is critical that Santee Cooper supports our state’s ability to attract and retain industry through prudent business decisions. We must be deliberate in moving forward, as we have been to date.”

Legislative Agenda

Quiet time at the Statehouse

Don’t look for much to happen in the Statehouse next week as no meetings were posted at publication time to be held during the Fourth of July week.

Radar Screen

Headed out of the office

We ran into newly-minted Congressman Mark Sanford this week and wondered how he was settling back into the Washington routine. Fine, he said, although he noted he was still getting the office organized. 

So when we asked whether he was sleeping in the office like he did during his first three terms in Congress, Sanford quietly admitted he was. But he confided he wasn’t drawing attention to it. Why? Because he’ll soon start looking for some kind of regular accommodation in Washington that’s better than an office futon. Wonder if he’s backed off term limits too!

Palmetto Politics

Big win for early childhood education

If you had predicted that South Carolina would infuse $26 million to expand 4-year-old kindergarten during this legislative session, most would have thought you to be off your rocker. And few would have expected the measure to make it past Gov. Nikki Haley’s veto pen.

But it happened. State Sen. Vincent Sheheen, who is running against Haley in 2014,  championed a bill early in the session that called for statewide expansion of the Child Development Education Pilot Program (CDEPP). While the bill didn’t make it through the legislature, its notion to add more early school funding did.

When the state budget got to the Senate in May, senators included $26 million to expand the CDEPP program to cover an additional 17 districts to receive 4-year-old kindergarten classes through the program. 

Now law, that means up to 8,200 poor, at-risk children in rural areas will be added to the current pool of 9,260 children who qualify for the early childhood education program. School districts that will benefit from the added funds have a poverty index of more than 75 percent: Fairfield, Calhoun, Colleton, Dorchester 4, Darlington, Greenwood 51, Sumter, Richland 1, Chester, Union, Anderson 3, Cherokee, Spartanburg 7, Lexington 3, Lexington 2, Newberry and Georgetown, according to Sheheen.

“We took a big step forward,” the Camden Democrat proudly said this week, adding that added funding for 4-year-old kindergarten was part of the book he wrote earlier this year. 

“We’re still not where our neighboring states are. There wasn’t a lot of vocal support at the beginning of the session. But when we got to the Senate, it caught fire.”

Lawmakers override 46 of governor’s 81 vetoes

The House met Wednesday and the Senate on Thursday to take up 81 budget vetoes offered Tuesday by Gov. Nikki Haley. In the end, legislators overrode 46 of the 81 vetoes -- about exactly what they did last year.

Several of the vetoes that the legislature restored were for local projects, called “pork” by some, for things like courthouse and library renovations, a Sandy Island boat ramp and a memorial site. It also restored more than $400,000 in operating funds to the S.C. Arts Commission, which Haley has been trying to kill since she took office. The Senate also restored $5 million for nursing homes, $3 million for the Office of Aging and $2 million for people suffering from various disorders.

The State newspaper reported today that Haley’s most frequent veto target is public education. Of her nearly 200 vetoes over three years, she vetoed $110 million in funding, more than a quarter of the state spending she has vetoed since 2011. More.

Underappreciated?

See if you can spot a clue about how under-appreciated one office is in state government that its name is misspelled today on a state Web page of social media capabilities:


Lift a glass to the past

Make sure you raise a glass to toast the old Palmetto State today as it celebrates the 237th anniversary of the colonial victory in the Battle of Sullivan’s Island.

On June 28, 1776, now known as “Carolina Day,” the 2nd South Carolina Regiment, under the command of Col. William Moultrie, fought a day-long battle despite being outmanned and outgunned by nine British warships.

At the end of the day, the patriots prevailed, winning the first victory in the American fight for independence and preventing the British from gaining a foothold in Charleston for four years. Also, the victory gave confidence to colonial leaders a few days later as they considered the Declaration of Independence, dated July 4 but signed throughout the month in the states.

Dum spiro spero.

Commentary

Don't tread on voting rights

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

JUNE 28, 2013 -- The U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to strike down federal civil rights protections from 1965 to cure racial discrimination at the voting booth in South Carolina and eight other states is a mixed bag. 

On one hand, it’s about time we were treated like other states that don’t have to pre-clear election law changes with the federal government. On another, having the power to make changes without federal oversight brings the very real possibility of a scary, new world that could hurt lots of people in the short term.

A journey in the way-back machine is illustrative.

In 1965 when the Voting Rights Act became law, about two of five blacks in South Carolina (39.4 percent according to our estimates) were registered to vote, compared to two of three whites (65.9 percent).   In raw numbers, 686,701 white voters were registered in 1965; 142,780 black voters were registered.

But while South Carolina had literacy tests and other barriers to voting at that time, it did not experience the violence associated with the civil rights movement of Alabama or Mississippi, which only had 6 percent of the black population registered in 1965, according to The New York Times.

Fast forward to today. South Carolina has 2.9 million registered voters including 1,998,009 white voters and 905,922 nonwhite voters, according to the S.C. Election Commission. The percentage of whites and nonwhites who are registered are about equal. Some 80.2 percent of white voters are registered compared to 78.7 percent of nonwhite voters.

In the opinion for the majority in the voting rights case, Chief Justice John Roberts observed that America has changed and matured over the last 50 years in terms of voting. Discrimination based on whether people of color could register with ease in South Carolina isn’t as manifest today as it once was.

But just as Chief Justice Roberts is right about the nation and South maturing, dissenting Justice Ruth Bader Ginsberg is right in that different barriers exist today that are new challenges to the constitutional right to vote in elections. In the place of literacy tests and poll taxes, those who want to make it difficult for people of color to vote now are smarter in how they “code” discrimination through  photo identification laws, precinct changes, at-large voting districts and racial gerrymandering.

Now that the high court has ended the U.S. Justice Department’s preclearance of changes to election laws, it is reasonable to worry that some in South Carolina will go hog wild to infuse more barriers in the current voting system by splitting or merging precincts, changing voting locations and using the legislature’s newfound power to obfuscate as much as possible.

If they do so, they do it at their own peril. Coming is the day when the white elites will lose power as South Carolina’s Latino population grows. From 2000 to 2010, Hispanics grew 148 percent in the Palmetto state, according to Census figures, to become 5.1 percent of the population.

If there’s anything good that could come out of the court’s voting rights decision, it would be that South Carolina legislators could use their new power to create competitive legislative districts when redistricting comes up again in a few years. No longer will they be bound by rules that keep them from lowering percentages of black voters in districts created to ensure representation of minorities. For example, a state Senate district with 63 percent of black voters could be reduced to 45 percent of black voters and still ensure that a black candidate would get a fair chance. But by shifting the other 18 percent of voters to an adjacent more “white” district, the legislature could create more competition in that district.

So while we breath and hope, we worry some narrow-minded, hyper-partisan legislators will fall into the trap of trying to manipulate election laws now that they have more rein to do so. We worry they’ll erect more barriers and create more segregated districts instead of more competitive ones. 

You should worry too because more voting impediments are not the way to a better South Carolina.

Spotlight

AARP

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Statehouse Report to you at no cost.  In today's issue, we shine the spotlight on  AARP,  a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization with a membership that helps people 50+ have independence, choice and control in ways that are beneficial and affordable to them and society as a whole. AARP does not endorse candidates for public office or make contributions to either political campaigns or candidates. We have staffed offices in all 50 states, the District of Columbia, Puerto Rico, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Learn more about AARP's work in South Carolina by visiting this Web site.

My Turn

2013: When ethics reform became a joke

By Dillon Jones
S.C. Policy Council
Special to Statehouse Report

JUNE 28, 2013 -- “We’ve been talking about ethics reform for years, and it’s about time we did something,” one Democratic House lawmaker said in the run-up to the 2013 legislative session.

One of his Republican counterparts sounded equally determined: “If you’ve got the House Democratic Caucus and the Republican Caucus working on an issue for next year, that means there’s consensus in this.”

On the Senate side, a member of the majority rightly pointed out that “the fact that 56 percent of people think we ought to strengthen the ethics laws shows the General Assembly needs to make this a top priority.”

And yet somehow nothing got done – literally, nothing. The General Assembly couldn’t even pass a weak ethics bill.

It’s not that they didn’t introduce good legislation. Throughout most of the legislative session, there were a decent number of bills proposed that would, separately, enact desperately needed reforms such as shortening legislative sessions, abolishing legislative Ethics Committees, putting the governor in charge of the executive branch, and requiring lawmakers to disclose the sources of their private income. These bills, however, didn’t go anywhere. Only one bill, H.3945, went anywhere, and it was rammed through the House without virtually no public debate a – legislation sponsored and promoted, not coincidentally, by the speaker of the House.

It was almost as if lawmakers considered ethics reform some kind of weird joke. The first part of the joke became evident when House lawmakers kept the bill secret. Unlike all other bills, members of the public couldn’t even read the bill’s content online – pretty strange for an “ethics” bill presumably meant to make government more transparent. It stayed that way through the entire subcommittee and committee process, and it was later revealed that some lawmakers weren’t even told about crucial provisions. Not just lawmakers, either: the governor herself eagerly promoted the bill, evidently without any specific knowledge of what was in it.

The legislation’s content – made public at last on a Friday afternoon – revealed the second part of the joke. The bill’s provisions included:

  • Decriminalization of major portions of state ethics laws. Instead of potential prison time and a maximum fine of $5,000 for violations under Chapter 13, it substituted lower fines (between $200 and $2,500) and no prison time. Essentially, lawmakers would be free to break ethics laws as long as they were willing to pay the (decreased) fines. It should be pointed out, too, that had this version of the bill been law when Ken Ard was lieutenant governor, he would not have been forced out of office; and if it were law now, its lead co-sponsor, the speaker of the House, could plausibly argue that he shouldn’t be under investigation for criminal wrongdoing by the State Law Enforcement Division.

  • A requirement that vocal, engaged citizens register as lobbyists. If you’re a citizen or the representative of any grassroots organization, and you want to testify in front of a legislative committee or subcommittee, you would’ve had to register with the state Ethics Commission as a lobbyist and pay a $200 registration fee.

  • The formation of a new ethics panel dominated by legislative appointees. The bill would have replaced the legislative ethics committees and state Ethics Commission with a new “Commission on Ethics Enforcement and Disclosure,” two-thirds which would be appointed by the legislature. Self-policing would continue under a different name.

Some of these provisions were quickly removed – the decriminalization measure was declared to be a “mistake” – but by the time the bill made it to the Senate, not even the governor’s energetic support could push it across the finish line.

And that leaves us to the last part of the joke: how the bill died. Its final version included really only one strong provision: private income disclosure for legislators. South Carolina law only requires elected officials to disclose public sources of income, not private sources – meaning politicians can take money from private companies, clients, and industry groups, introduce and vote on legislation favored or opposed by those companies, clients, and industry groups, and they don’t have to tell the public a thing about it. The governor’s Ethics Reform Study Committee pointed this out last year as an area in desperate need of overhaul.

Yet as the year’s only active ethics legislation languished during floor debate in the Senate, lawmakers quibbled about far lesser details and said barely anything about income disclosure. In the end, the bill didn’t even get an up-or-down vote.

For all the talk about ethics reform being a “top priority” and a “consensus” on strengthening the state’s ethics laws, the legislature as a body treated some low priority items with far greater seriousness. We’re left to conclude that, for our elected officials in Columbia, ethics reform is a joke.

Dillon Jones is a policy analyst at the S.C. Policy Council

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Scorecard

Up for education; down for voting rights

4K funding: Hats off to Sen. Vincent Sheheen for being successful in getting millions of more funding to help poor kids get an earlier start in school.

Ott: Congratulations to State. Rep. Harry Ott, the Calhoun County Democrat and former House minority leader who is stepping down to become the state director for the U.S. Farm Service Agency. More.

Veterans. Kudos to the seven World War II veterans, including retired U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings, who received the Legion of Honor this week from the French government. More.

Haley. The governor didn’t win big or lose big with her budget vetoes, but stuck to her philosophical guns.   Some may wonder, though, why she didn’t veto new spending for early childhood education. A political calculation?

Gay marriage. It’s good news that the Supreme Court threw out the Defense of Marriage Act as unconstitutional and discriminatory to gays. But things won’t change much here in South Carolina until an emboldened lobby educates the legislature.

District 42: The new Supreme Court decision on the Voting Rights Act has caused lots of confusion and dumb bickering in Charleston County about where folks should register if they want to run for the Senate seat held by Robert Ford, who resigned in disgrace. More.

Voting rights. The Supreme Court’s decision is fraught with potential problems for lawmakers.

Homelessness. It has jumped 72 percent in the last two years, according to a new report. More.
Stegelin

Second opinion


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Statehouse Report

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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/.