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ISSUE 12.29
Jul. 19, 2013

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

Index

News :
On the hook
Legislative Agenda :
Quiet reigns in meeting rooms
Palmetto Politics :
Hospitals sick of Haley
Commentary :
Let’s engage in the trade war
Spotlight :
The South Carolina Education Association
My Turn :
Remembering two environmental heroes
Feedback :
Bad amendment would waste energy
Scorecard :
Some good news, some bad leadership
Stegelin :
Ethics, shmethics
Megaphone :
Tough talk (but way too late)
Tally Sheet :
Search S.C. legislative bills
Encyclopedia :
Henry Laurens

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NUMBER OF THE WEEK

8.1%

That’s the state’s unemployment rate for June; up a tenth from May. By comparison, the national average is 7.6 percent. More.

MEGAPHONE

Tough talk (but way too late)

“DHEC screwed this up … I’m sort of as indignant and angry about it as anybody else. It’s not how I run the railroad. It’s why they are fired.’’

-- DHEC head Catherine Templeton, this week breaking her weeks-long silence on the slow response by her administrators and officials to rein-in an outbreak of tuberculosis in Greenwood County that exposed at least 50 kids to the potentially deadly virus. Some of the officials who have been fired have filed wrongful termination lawsuits. More.

TALLY SHEET

Search S.C. legislative bills

With the legislature adjourned until next year, the next time bills will be introduced is in late November or early December with pre-filing for the 2014.  For now, you can look at bills filed in 2013 to determine what's so far in the hopper for 2014:

ENCYCLOPEDIA

Henry Laurens

(Part 1 of 2)

Henry Laurens was born on Feb. 24, 1724, in Charleston, the eldest son of John Laurens, a saddler, and Esther Grasset. Both the Laurens and Grasset families fled France as Huguenot refugees in the 1680s, with John and Esther settling in Charleston about 1715. Henry Laurens provided no details but described his education as "the best which [Charleston] afforded."


H. Laurens

Following a three-year clerkship in the London countinghouse of James Crokatt, Laurens returned to Charleston in 1747 and formed a commercial partnership with George Austin. Austin & Laurens expanded in 1759 to become Austin, Laurens & (George) Appleby and continued until 1762, when the partnership was dissolved by mutual consent. Laurens subsequently traded on his own.

As a merchant, he exported Carolina products (rice, indigo, deerskins, and naval stores) to Britain, Europe, and the West Indies. His vessels returned with wine, textiles, rum, sugar, and slaves. During the early 1760s Laurens's interests expanded to include rice and indigo planting. He owned four South Carolina plantations (Mepkin, Wambaw, Wrights Savannah, and Mount Tacitus), two Georgia plantations (Broughton Island and New Hope), tracts of undeveloped land in both colonies, and town lots in Charleston. The earnings from his mercantile and planting interests made Laurens one of the wealthiest men in America.

Laurens entered public service at an early age, holding local and church offices in Charleston as early as 1751. He first sat in the Commons House of Assembly in 1757, representing St. Philip's Parish. He would be reelected to the colonial or state assemblies seventeen times during his lifetime. He served as a lieutenant in the militia in 1757 and as a lieutenant colonel in the provincial regiment during the Cherokee Expedition of 1761. He refused appointment to the Royal Council in 1764.

During the early stages of the Anglo-American conflict, Laurens gained prominence as a political moderate. On Oct. 23, 1765, at the height of the Stamp Act crisis, a mob invaded his home in search of stamped papers. This incident ended without injury but traumatized his wife and increased the conservative merchant-planter's concern for the rights of individuals threatened by the violence and enthusiasm of the revolution.

Between 1767 and 1769 royal officials in South Carolina seized his schooners Wambaw and Broughton Island Packet and the ship Ann for alleged customs violations. In response Laurens wrote pamphlets explaining his position and castigating the customs and vice-admiralty officials. He also challenged a customs officer to a duel. This aggressive behavior was not uncommon for Laurens, who sought vindication with dueling pistols on at least five occasions during his lifetime.

Laurens's life took a new direction in May 1770 after the death of his wife, Eleanor Ball. Married to Laurens since June 25, 1750, Eleanor had given birth to 12 or 13 children. Laurens now made the education of his five surviving children, especially his three sons, his foremost life's work. He suspended direct supervision of his planting and commercial interests and sailed to England in September 1771. From there he traveled to the Continent, where he found suitable schools for his two older sons in Geneva, Switzerland. During the time he spent in England, Laurens and several other South Carolinians in London signed petitions to Parliament and the king seeking redress of American grievances.

(To be continued in the next issue)

-- Excerpted from the entry by C. James Taylor. 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

On the hook

Does legislature only care about camo and corporations?

By Bill Davis, senior editor

JULY 19, 2013 -- This was a helluva year for anyone involved in the state’s hunting and fishing, considering the attention the legislature lavished on it instead of finishing promised work on ethics, restructuring and accountability.       

With only a week left in the session, which finally ended last month, state Sen. Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) cracked that the Senate had only passed 20 bills, “and 12 of them have something to do with hunting and fishing.”            

Hutto got it exactly right.

By the end of the session, of the 100 bills that were ratified into acts, there were exactly 12 bills ratified by the General Assembly and signed into law by Gov. Nikki Haley that dealt with issues ranging from fishing hooks and hunting alligators to antlered deer and catch limits for tarpon.

Even more effort was spent on bills directly related to improving the state’s “pro-business” climate, already ranked near the top in several national surveys. Some two dozen different acts were created in the state codes that, by this publication’s analysis, dovetail with corporate interests. Examples: Motion picture tax rebates; the creation of a trust fund for dry cleaning facility restoration; and the appropriately named “High Growth Small Business Access to Capital Act?”

That’s not to say there weren’t important bills that made it into law, such as the ones that strengthened the powers of a nascent board to oversee state employees’ job benefits, or the one that created a $120 million tax incentive package for Boeing to further expand in North Charleston.

But the number of bills and their focus has inspired some critics and observers to wonder whether the S.C. General Assembly has lost its focus, and whether state government is truly of the people and for the people, but only if the people are wearing camo or three-piece suits?

  • For a full list of this year’s ratified acts and their content, click here.  

It’s all good 

There are fans of this year’s legislative session. Greg Foster, spokesman for House Speaker Bobby Harrell (R-Charleston) continued this week to tout there was plenty more to be proud of.

Money for roads and bridges was set aside. A historic data security breach at Revenue was mitigated with new security measures and an extension of free identity fraud protections. And a major election snafu was attacked that caused more than 200 candidates to be forced off ballots in 2012. 

But left on the table were bills having to do with the creation of a Department of Administration, massive additional statewide infrastructure improvement and maintenance needs, and various ethics reform packages put together by members of the House and Senate as well as the governor.

Foster said the legislature was still in the “first quarter” of restructuring, and that it would be a legislative priority once again in January, the start of an election year. (Statehouse Report pointed out that that the “first quarter” had been pretty long, lasting 11 legislative sessions since Gov. Mark Sanford took office; Foster did not reply.)

Fear-based legislating? 

Political scientist Scott Huffmon, who oversees an influential polling center at Winthrop University, said the legislature showed signs of “governing from a position of fear.”

Huffmon said that while 100 bills was an impressive number, there was nothing truly substantive passed this year, and that the legislature was merely “nibbling around the edges.”

“To write a truly transformative bill, as a politician, you are putting yourself out there for others to take pot shots at you, and that is not a position a politician seeking reelection wants to be in right now,” Huffmon said.

Because the Republicans who dominate the legislature fear only intra-party challengers from the tea partiers, he said this year’s list of acts passed were dominated by laws that very much pleased narrow constituencies and astutely steered clear of angering bigger groups of people.

Moving forward

One group that was angered were Democrats in the legislature. Too few in number to push through laws, they had to rely on shaping bills and laws through the debate process, according to state Senate Caucus director Phil Bailey.

Bailey said this week that where a bill was good for the state, Dems worked with Republicans, and pointed to the half-billion set aside for bonding infrastructure improvements as proof.        

Tyler Jones, an associate director for the House Democratic Caucus, said the “big problems” the state is facing would have to wait for a regime change in Columbia. “We need some real leadership,” Jones said.

The main thorn in the paper lion’s paw was the Democrats’ inability to save Medicaid expansion via Obamacare. Many on both sides of the aisle say will happen eventually, but not until after the feds’ enticing fund matching washes away.

It’s all wrong

Ashley Landess has created a name for herself and a host of headlines for her organization, the S.C. Policy Council, for opposing seemingly everything coming out of Columbia.

Landess said that the legislature’s failure to pass ethics reform shows how broken the system is. Entrenched power brokers within the legislature, she said, continue to keep the focus on passing laws dealing with managing state government instead of protecting and growing citizens’ futures and rights.

The legislature took “days” to pass the Boeing incentive package, but failed to pass the one thing voters wanted most; a holistic accountability measure, said Landess.

“All they end up doing is meddling, passing legislation to fix specific problems,” versus passing sweeping improvements, Landess said. “And that always makes the situation worse.”         

Crystal ball: Sometimes what state government doesn’t do is the best thing it ever does, many wags contend. In the end, all the legislature is required to pass every session is a budget bill. But there should be something done in the time between budget floor debates that also moves the state along.

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

Legislative Agenda

Quiet reigns in meeting rooms

At publication time today, no meetings were listed for next week for the House, Senate or committees.

Palmetto Politics

Hospitals sick of Haley

In a move everyone in Columbia saw coming, a group of a dozen hospitals, nursing homes and other care providers have sued the state over an agency’s decision to discontinue issuing and administering “certificate of need” program.

Hospitals and other care facilities are hamstrung without the certification program, as they can neither open new facilities or buy new equipment without it. Catherine Templeton, director of the state Department of Health and Environmental Control, said this week said she suspended the program because it became an unfunded mandate after the legislature sustained a gubernatorial veto for funding.

Groups, including House Republicans, hold that the money or the program could come from elsewhere in DHEC’s annual budget. This is the latest crisis in Templeton’s tenure, coming on the heels of a botched response to a Greenwood tuberculosis outbreak.

Commentary

Let’s engage in the trade war

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

JULY 19, 2013 -- America has been in a trade war ever since the country started, retired U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings reminded members of the Rotary Club of Charleston this week.

The problem, however, is America forgets it is in this war, a struggle that is costing jobs and our national backbone.

The result? China is cleaning our clocks by making stuff that we no longer make -- everything from steel, textiles and computers to the cheap doodads and T-shirts found in abundance at beachside shops. But  soon, Hollings predicted, Mexico will become the next China for U.S. businesses due to Mexico’s proximity to the U.S., increasing stability and low wages.

Hollings, born in 1922 when the British Empire was at its largest, offered a history lesson.

The first substantive measure of the new United States was the Tariff Act of 1789, signed into law on July 4 by President George Washington. Congress enacted this protectionist tariff that included a 10 percent duty on imports carried here on ships “not of the United States.” Why? To encourage America to fend for itself by making things, not relying on Great Britain and others to do it.

 NEW POLL

A new poll by the Pew Research shows that while the U.S. is rated more favorably than China across the globe, China is becoming  a stronger superpower.

By the time of the Civil War when America started building the Transcontinental Railroad, many wanted to import foreign steel because it would be cheaper. But President Abraham Lincoln said no. He wanted to country to build its own iron and steel industry so that when the railroad was finished, the country would then have steel capacity -- along with jobs, capital and wealth -- of its own.

Fast forward to World War II when America’s manufacturing machine muscled out tanks, planes and uniforms. The country was strong and the world -- including a British Empire in decline -- looked to America for strength. That continued until the 1960s, when foreign markets started to develop manufacturing capacities just as we had done.

Then American businesses, seeking to maximize the next quarter’s profits, started closing manufacturing plants, decimating domestic industry after industry. Manufacturing moved overseas to places like Japan, China, Korea, India and Pakistan. 

These days, Washington politicians do nothing to keep American companies from offshoring their production, Hollings complained. All the while, China laps it up, wanting more and more of America’s market share while creating domestic needs to keep its factories going. What does the United States do? It keeps borrowing to pay the government bills -- so much so that the nation is trillions of dollars in debt and pays annual interest fees of more than $400 billion -- yes, billion -- a year. Interest, as budget hawk Hollings pointed out, pays for nothing other than our past, irresponsible spending.

What’s interesting -- and sad -- about this tale of the rise and fall of American manufacturing is how history is actually repeating itself. China -- certainly not a democracy -- is doing nothing but a modern-day economic take on bulking up to make things at the expense of the United States, which did the same thing to Great Britain in the Industrial Age. 

The only way to combat what’s happening to the United States is for us to start making lots of stuff again. To do that, we’ve got to make it more attractive for big multi-national industries to manufacture again in America. 

Hollings often suggests a way to increase competitiveness is to replace the country’s 35 percent corporate income tax, which multi-nationals scurry to avoid by offshoring, with a 7 percent value-added tax added on at each stage of production. He says our competitors across the world -- more than 150 countries -- take this approach. But because we’re not, we’re being played as Uncle Sucker. 

Hollings argues if Congress would get off its duff, enforce existing trade laws and enact a VAT, the country would actually experience a tax cut!

Fritz Hollings was born when Great Britain started its decline. Despite years of fighting the good fight to keep America strong, our nation is declining today because of what’s being done by China and other manufacturing tigers. 

Let’s turn that around. Now would be a good time to start.

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

Spotlight

The South Carolina Education Association

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Statehouse Report to you at no cost. This week's spotlighted underwriter is The South Carolina Education Association (The SCEA), the professional association for educators in South Carolina. Educators from pre-K to 12th grade comprise The SCEA. The SCEA is the leading advocate for educational change in South Carolina. Educators in South Carolina look to The SCEA for assistance in every aspect of their professional life. From career planning as a student to retirement assessment as a career teacher, The SCEA offers assistance, guidance, and inspiration for educators.
My Turn

Remembering two environmental heroes

By Ann Timberlake
Special to Statehouse Report

JULY 19, 2011 -- We mourn the recent loss of two guardians of South Carolina’s environment: Jane Lareau and Bill Campbell. I knew them both in the citizens’ campaign to stop the chainsaws in Congaree Swamp back in the early 1970s. 

When Jane accepted Conservation Voters’ Harriet Keyserling Green Tie Advocacy Award in 2011, she explained her early attraction to nature. When her family moved from Rhode Island to Sumter when she was four, her dad chose to locate his family of eight children as far out into the country as he could.  Surrounded by grassy fields, pine forests and the beautiful Black River, the Lareau children grew up the way all children should:  outside.

Even as a young woman, Jane noticed that the landscapes she loved were disappearing.  Before she left her teens, bulldozers destroyed the fields and wetlands around her home, replacing them with subdivisions and shopping centers.  The chuck-wills-widows disappeared, along with the bobwhites and screech owls.  And it wasn't just Jane's childhood haunts that were under siege. All over South Carolina, our most cherished natural places were either being paved or polluted.

In 1989, Jane accepted a job offer from Dana Beach to join the Coastal Conservation League during its founding year.  There, she gained a reputation as a tough opponent of irresponsible development and as a strong advocate for stewardship of human and natural resources. 

Among other accomplishments, Jane led efforts to create the Waccamaw National Wildlife Refuge and to protect Sandy Island and Sparkleberry Swamp. She helped Cape Romain gain its Outstanding Resource Water designation and worked to convince the U.S. Forest Service to restore native longleaf pines in the Francis Marion National Forest. 

Bill’s early years were in Virginia and North Carolina. He graduated from Dreher High School after his family moved to Columbia. Bill was an early champion of the environment as District 72’s state representative. He was a member of the original group formed to preserve the Congaree Swamp. As a founding member of the Columbia Audubon Society, he invited Audubon’s Southeastern director to visit the swamp where it was reported he heard the Ivory-billed woodpecker, thought to be extinct.

Bill was the lead author and floor leader for the tidelands bill, the Radioactive Waste Disposal and Transportation Act and a resolution in supporting Congaree, ultimately protected as Congaree National Park. In recognition of his extensive involvement in passing the Tidelands Act, Bill was appointed to the South Carolina Coastal Council where he served for many years. He was the president of the Environmental Research Center that conducted the environmental inventory of Kiawah Island prior to its development. In 1975, he was named the 1975 Legislative Conservationist of the Year by the South Carolina Wildlife Federation. 

Bill spent his retirement years on his beloved Cat Island near Beaufort, racing Hobie Cat sailboats in the river, fishing in the marshes and ocean, and birding in the ACE Basin.  Jane remained in Charleston but traveled to all corners of the globe: the deserts of coastal Peru, the cloud forests of Borneo and the plains of East Africa. Both were avid bird watchers. They relished time spent in the out of doors and with their families and friends. They fought the good fights for us. We will miss them. 

Ann Timberlake is executive director of the Conservation Voters of South Carolina.

Feedback

Bad amendment would waste energy

To the editor:

At a time when Congress is looking to cut federal spending, the U.S. Senate is about to vote on an amendment that would cost taxpayers more in wasted energy.

As soon as next week, Republican Sen. John Hoeven (R-ND), with the support of oil and gas producers, will offer an amendment to an energy efficiency bill that would eviscerate a tool that government agencies are using to make their buildings more energy efficient, reduce costs and promote innovation in building design. Section 433 of the Energy Independence and Security Act, signed into law in 2007 by President Bush, sets targets for cutting fossil fuel use in new and renovated federal buildings by 2030. But Sen. Hoeven's amendment would repeal that rule, leaving the feds without an important tool to reduce energy use in government buildings throughout the country.

As an architect, I am writing to say that is bad public policy. Here's why:

Data from the U.S. Energy Information Administration indicates that buildings use more energy than any industry sector -- 48 percent of the total. More than 75 percent of all the electricity produced at power plants in the U.S. goes to operate buildings. As the owner and operator of millions of square feet of buildings -- from courthouses to office buildings to VA hospitals and embassies abroad -- the federal government spends $6 billion per year in taxpayer dollars just to power these facilities. Shouldn't they make sure their buildings use as little energy as possible?

If that's not enough numbers to make you think twice about the vote, consider this: the U.S. government ranks fourth on the Greenhouse 100 index, the first ranking of U.S. industrial polluters on the basis of their emissions of the gases responsible for global climate change. According to June report by the University of Massachusetts, the U.S. government weighs in at 77 million tons -- equivalent to the emissions of 15 million cars. So, the Senate may soon take a huge step backward by voting on a bill that would repeal Section 433 of EISA.

Ironically, the private sector increasingly recognizes the importance of innovative, energy efficient design. Large corporations, from Starbucks to Target to Walgreens, are asking architects to design their properties to use less energy. They know it's good for the bottom line.

As architects, we are prepared to lead the design of a more sustainable future. But we need the federal government to lead by example.

 -- Jane Frederick, Beaufort, S.C.

NOTE: Frederick is South Atlantic director of the American Institute of Architects.

Likes idea of government brand

To the editor:

I wanted to thank you for the article on “Give Government a Good Brand.” 

I've been active in the National Active and Retired Federal Employees Association for many years and recently became the S.C. Federation of Chapters President.  We have a similar effort on spreading the word the value of federal worker jobs but it is more tailored to protecting our benefits -- Protect America's Heartbeat. 

-- Kathy Hensley, Lexington, S.C.

Government isn’t welcome all of the time

To the editor:

I don’t think anyone disputes what you are saying about the good things that result from the necessary functions of government.  The military?   I remember “provide for the common defense” from the jingle that used to interrupt Saturday morning cartoons.  Imagine the States agreeing on the specifications and location of Interstate roads?  

I think the problem comes in with your accurate usage of the word “countless.”  Government has taken on a life of its own evidenced by the recent story of the building of a military HQ in Afghanistan that will never be used. The spare engine for the F35 that no one wants, (except General Electric of course).  Regulations to regulate the regulations.   Go to the website for the USDA.  Look at the variety of things they are involved in.  They are supposed to be stamping beef.

Government touches every facet of our lives.  Many of these touches are unwelcome, unwanted and would cost oodles less if someone else handled that.

-- Donald T. McDonough, Charleston, S.C.

Great story on state vacancies

To the editor:

Great summary on that Secretary of State study on the vacancies on boards and commissions. I'm excited about what Project XX is doing on that front as well.

-- Roxanne Walker Cordonier, Taylors, S.C.

Send us your letters.  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.Send your letters to: 
Scorecard

Some good news, some bad leadership

Retirement. The state’s inspector general found no wrongdoing in the management of the state’s pension fund, and told both the fund managers and the state Treasurer Curtis Loftis to cool it with their public bickering. More.

Real estate. Home sales jumped in June across the state. More.

Nukes. A nuclear reactor in Hartsville may have to close due to its age and expense. More.

DHEC. Way to botch a TB outbreak. it’s not enough that your director owned up to it. This. Can’t. Happen. Again. More.

EPA. The state has joined with 11 other GOP-governed states to sue the federal Environmental Protection Agency, claiming that it is illegally governing and enforcing federal air quality laws. More.

Haley. You’re not doing yourself any favors with those who question your ethics when you have to pay $3,500 for not identifying your donors properly. More.
Stegelin

Ethics, shmethics


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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/.