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ISSUE 12.31
Aug. 02, 2013

12/04 | 11/27 | 11/20 | 11/13


News :
Early in the race
Legislative Agenda :
DHEC is the subject
Radar Screen :
Hackers beware?
Palmetto Politics :
Outrage outbreak
Commentary :
Why 64 cents should make you mad
Spotlight :
Time Warner Cable
My Turn :
Do more on teen pregnancy to decrease dropout rate
Feedback :
Informative article on poverty's assumptions
Scorecard :
From Haley to education to Revenue
Stegelin :
Weekend warrior
Number of the Week :
$2.9 million
Megaphone :
Tough love or tough $%#@
Tally Sheet :
Search S.C. legislative bills
Encyclopedia :
Heath Charter

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$2.9 million

University of South Carolina professor Charles Bennett, who holds an endowed chair, is under fire after his previous employer, Northwestern University, had to pay a $2.9 million settlement over allegations that he misspent federal research money on personal expenses. More.


Tough love or tough $%#@

“I think it would suggest it is either time to look for another school or get involved in that school.”

-- S.C. Superintendent of Education Mick Zais this week at a press conference announcing the annual letter grades given out by his agency to schools across the state. Zais had prefaced his comment while talking about any school that dropped from as high as an “A” to as low as an “F.” His comments angered the executive director of the state’s Education Oversight Committee, whose child’s school experienced such a drop, despite implementation of major education programs. More.


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:


Heath Charter

King Charles I of England granted a proprietary charter on October 30, 1629, to his attorney general Sir Robert Heath. The colony, named "Carolana" in honor of the king, included the territory between 31 and 36 north latitude and west to the edge of the continent. This vast region stretched from Albemarle Sound, North Carolina, to the northern boundary of Florida and west to the Pacific Ocean.

As proprietor, Heath was expected to settle and develop his domain with the same broad governing authority as the Bishop of Durham, feudal ruler of the County Palatine of Durham in England. The charter also authorized the proprietor to make laws with "the counsel, assent, and approbation of the Freeholders or the Major part of them."

Heath initially sought settlers from the numerous Huguenots who had taken refuge in England during religious conflicts in France. He soon lost interest when several of these projects failed, and he thereafter restricted his colonists to communicants of the Church of England. A Puritan merchant of Huguenot ancestry, Samuel Vassall, sponsored a coastal exploration to locate settlement sites, but the colonists that followed in 1633 were stranded in Virginia.

By 1638 Heath had assigned his proprietary rights to Henry Frederick Howard, Lord Maltravers, who established the County of Norfolk in Carolana but was no more successful than Heath in settling the region. The Heath Charter is important because it was the model for the successful 1663 Carolina Charter, and it was the first colonial charter that included the area of modern South Carolina.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Lindley S. Butler. 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 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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Every week in our new My Turn section, we seek guest commentaries on issues of public and policy importance to South Carolina. If you're interested, click here to learn more.


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Early in the race

How job numbers may craft policy, campaign strategy

By Bill Davis, senior editor

AUG. 2, 2013 --Judging by weekly headline counts, the budding rematch between GOP Gov. Nikki Haley and state Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D-Camden) for governor next year is the biggest ongoing political story in South Carolina, especially now that the legislature is out of session until January.

Both sides are taking advantage of free-press opportunities to take swipes at the other. And one of the key issues driving debate -- and potentially policy -- between the two will continue to center around James Carville’s election adage, “It’s the economy, stupid.”

A related easy-to-understand and important piece of the economic pie is also one of the mantras of both sides: “Jobs, jobs, jobs.”

While neither Haley’s 2014 campaign, her administration nor Sheheen’s campaign responded for comment about how the state was doing on the jobs front, just how is the state doing?

Right now, the state’s unemployment numbers aren’t the rosiest. Joblessness grew one-tenth of one percent from May to 8.1 percent in June, according to state numbers. According to the federal Bureau of Labor Statistics, South Carolina’s rate is tied for 13th highest nationally.

The slight increase means 1,904 more South Carolinians were without work in June than the previous month, and overall the total labor force dropped by 2,863 workers out of a pool of just over 2.1 million employed. That drop may be due to vagaries of summer employment patterns, as it has in past years.

But in the long term, the picture, while not coming up totally roses, is a much prettier.

When Haley took office in January 2011, South Carolina’s unemployment rate stood at 11.9 percent, according to federal statistics.  In other words, the rate was about 50 percent higher when Haley took office than it is now.

Regionally, North Carolina and Georgia, at 8.9 and 8.2 percent unemployment rates respectively, are doing worse, while Virginia and Florida, at 5.2 and 7.2 percent rates, are faring better.  Nationally, the unemployment rate for June remained at 7.6 percent, according to federal numbers.

So, South Carolina is in the middle. Looking at national comparative graphs of employment rates, the state also seems to be largely following the trajectories of the rest of the nation and region.

That may mean bigger forces than state leadership, or the lack of it as Democrats are clamoring, are at play.

So what does all this mean in the coming gubernatorial race and policy-making game? Is Sheheen’s goose already cooked, in light of these seemingly improving numbers?

Other factors

Kristin Sosanie, spokesman for the S.C. Democratic Party, claims that a simple drop in the overall unemployment rate is a far too simplistic and inaccurate of a marker in what’s really happening to the state’s struggling economy.

Sosanie argues that a fuller picture is available when other statistics are considered. For example, she said South Carolina has a relatively low mobility rating, which means that grown children here tend not to do better than their parents economically compared to peers in other states. Also, the state has only 63 percent of adults who are employed or looking for work, which means lots of people have given up looking and, in turn, that tends to deflate the jobless rate.

State officials are more buoyant. 

According to the state Department of Commerce, charged with charting South Carolina’s economic rebound, there have been close to 37,000 new jobs announced since Haley took office. So far this year, Commerce said 6,774 new jobs have been created with more than $2.5 billion in announced new business investment.

Haley’s jobs guru, Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt, has called for jobs creation in the manufacturing sector to lead the recovery’s way. In manufacturing alone, $9.7 billion in new business investment has flowed into the state since Haley took office, and more than 26,000 jobs have been created, according to his agency’s tabulations.

So what?!

Economist Holley Ulbrich doesn’t think the economy will play much of a role in the Haley camp plotting its continued reign.

A distinguished emeritus economics professor at Clemson and a mainstay at the university’s Strom Thurmond Institute, Ulbrich holds that South Carolinians will continue to vote more in line with their ideologies than with their own self-interest.

Ulbrich believes Haley will probably not even “run” against Sheheen, but will focus her campaign against the federal government: Obamacare, smaller government, voter ID, gun control and the Voting Rights Act.

“There are already so many hot-buttons to tap on,” said Ulbrich. “If I were Nikki Haley, that’s what I would do.”

Crystal ball:  Maybe this time in South Carolina, it isn’t the economy. For Sheheen to have a chance, he might focus his campaign attack on the hacking scandal, the governor’s ethics problems or South Carolina’s abysmal education performance. Haley, however, likely will focus on jobs, job, jobs.

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

Legislative Agenda

DHEC is the subject

There is one major, and potentially very important, state meeting scheduled for next week. The full Senate Medical Affairs Committee will meet Thursday at 1:30 p.m. in 308 Gressette to discuss the state Department of Health and Environmental Control’s response to this year’s tuberculosis outbreak in Greenwood County. Agenda.

Radar Screen

Hackers beware?

The state has opened bidding for contractors to bid on providing residents continued identity theft protection. State government better get this right, or they will be out of jobs, and none of us will have credit rating worth a tinker’s dam.

Palmetto Politics

Outrage outbreak

Looks like DHEC head Catherine Templeton’s problems are spreading faster than the tuberculosis outbreak in Greenwood County that resulted in what she called her agency’s “botched” response.

A former DHEC analyst, Shea Rabley, this week filed a suit against the agency and Templeton over what she contends were slanderous attempts to make her a scapegoat for the outbreak. So far, 100 county residents, including children, have tested positive for tuberculosis-related germs. It could take weeks before anyone knows if they have contracted the potentially deadly virus.

The former analyst further argues that she wasn’t fired, but was voluntarily retiring, despite Templeton’s public statements. Additionally, a host of legislators have been calling for hearings and further investigation into the outbreak, the agency’s actions, and now Templeton’s comments.


Why 64 cents should make you mad

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

AUG. 2, 2013 -- Hope you enjoy the 64-cent weekend bribe brought to you by the state of South Carolina.

Yes, we’re referring to the annual August sales tax holiday for qualified school purchases in which the state won’t collect its 6 percent sales tax over a long weekend. All totaled, South Carolina consumers are expected to save about $3 million, which averages to about 64 cents a person for the 4.7 million people who live in the Palmetto State. [Oddly, the state Department of Revenue doesn’t keep up with how much revenue is lost during the holiday, but estimates the savings for consumers based on research on retailers who sold school supplies.]

While people who spend a couple of hundred dollars on back-to-school stuff will get $12 in savings, most people won’t get anything because they don’t have kids in school or they won’t use the opportunity to buy bedspreads and linens, both of which are exempt from tax over the weekend. Also exempt: clothing, shoes, pencils, paper, notebooks, bookbags, computers and printers. You can even avoid taxes on scarves, pillows, bandanas, bridal gowns, musical instruments and skin-diving suits. [Full list]

What rankles about this holiday is that it is an out-and-out gimmick to make politicians look like they’re really doing something when they’re not.   For most South Carolinians, it really doesn’t have a big impact for at least two reasons.

First, stores are frothing at the mouth at this time of the year with unbelievable deals that offer far more in savings than six cents on the dollar to get folks inside to buy pencils, clothes, backpacks and the like. The sales tax holiday is a “broadus,” or a little bit extra to use a Gullah word. It’s not the incentive for shopping.

Second, the tax holiday is nothing but a bribe that lawmakers use to make you think that they’re making the regressive sales tax a lot fairer. A smarter thing to do than having three days free of tax is to figure out ways (i.e., real sales tax reform by reducing the billions of dollars in exemptions) so that the overall rate can be lowered -- 365 days a year.

Grrrrr. We’ve been opposed to sales tax holidays for a long time because they’re bad policy. Lawmakers should do something big to fix taxes, not dole out crumbs.

THE FRAGRANT ALLURE OF POLITICS must be too much for former state Sen. Robert Ford, the Charleston Democrat who resigned this year for what he maintains were health reasons. Regardless of how loudly Ford squawks about his health being to blame, it’s just a cover. He resigned because serious ethics allegations against him were about to come home to roost. He still must face them.

For most people who resign from office, the dingy, gray cloud of shame is enough to keep them out of politics. But most people are not Robert Ford. As several candidates head toward an Aug. 13 Democratic primary for his seat, Ford pumps out frequent emails to keep in the fray. There’s one to remind Senate Ethics Committee members of all the good things he’s done over the years for the community. There’s another of him in photos from a fish fry. And then there are the multiple emails endorsing his chosen candidate, a former city council member with ties to the Republican Party. 

Ford, also known for working more closely with Republicans than some Democrats found comfortable, should realize he can’t hand-pick a winner for the seat he left in disgrace.  He’s had his chance in the Senate. Now he needs to get out of the way.

HATS OFF to the S.C. Small Business Chamber and partners for a neat campaign to draw attention to the future impact of climate change.

Along the coast, small businesses are being asked to use blue tape to mark on their buildings where water would rise in 2100 in the event of a six-foot sea level rise. The project, called South Carolina Businesses Acting on Rising Seas, is an effort to protect the small business tourism industry from the coming impact of rising seas. Neat way to visualize what could happen.

Andy Brack is publisher of Statehouse ReportYou can reach Brack at:


Time Warner Cable

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Statehouse Report to you at no cost. Today, we’re happy to shine the spotlight on Time Warner Cable. The company’s Carolina Region provides video, Internet and telephone services to more than two million customers in more than 400 cities and towns across North and South Carolina. Time Warner Cable is the second-largest cable operator in the U.S., with technologically advanced, well-clustered systems located in New York State, the Carolinas, Ohio, southern California and Texas.  The company’s mission: Connect people and businesses with information, entertainment and each other; give customers control in ways that are simple and easy.

My Turn

Do more on teen pregnancy to decrease dropout rate

By Forrest Alton
CEO, S.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy
Special to Statehouse Report

AUG. 2, 2013 -- It was released in July that the dropout rate in South Carolina is on the decline and has now dropped four consecutive years. Combine this news with what we know to be record declines in the teen pregnancy rate over the last decade-plus and you have a notable success story. 

Before we start celebrating too much, let’s remember that South Carolina still has both dropout rates and teen pregnancy rates that exceed national averages. Indeed, our state still has a lot of work to do on both of these fronts a topic worthy of future editorials. 

For now, I think it’s important to understand the connection between these two issues. In the article referenced above, State Superintendant Mick Zais says, "The path to prosperity for South Carolina's economy begins, but does not end, with greater numbers of high school graduates.” I couldn’t agree more and can add a bit to this thought: The path to greater numbers of high school graduates, economic prosperity, better health and long-term birth outcomes, family strengthening and decreasing poverty (just to name a few) begins with us preventing children from having children, a.k.a. preventing teen pregnancy. 

According to the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy:

  • Nearly one-third of teen girls who have dropped out of high school cite early pregnancy or parenthood as a key reason.

  • Only 40 percent of teen moms will ever finish high school. And

  • Less than two percent of teen mothers (those who have a baby before age 18) finish college by age 30.

Of course, becoming a parent as a teen isn’t the only reason young people drop out of school. It would be crazy to assert that. However, it would also be crazy given these facts to not make preventing teen pregnancy a strong part of our state’s efforts to continue improving the dropout rate. Those who are concerned about dropout rates, graduation rates and economic prosperity MUST begin to show more concern about our state’s teen pregnancy rate. 

Preventing teen pregnancy might be perceived as a controversial topic, but in fact, that isn’t true. Take the discussion on school-based sex education for example. You might be surprised to hear that there is an overwhelming majority of South Carolinians – more than eight in 10 – who support a comprehensive approach to prevention inclusive of messages about abstinence and contraception. That’s not controversy. That’s near universal support! It’s exactly this type of sex education that is comprehensive and inclusive of messages about both abstinence and contraception, that has resulted in such dramatic decreases in our state’s teen pregnancy rate.

So if you believe in the transitive property, or maybe more accurately, remember the transitive property from high school algebra, one is left with this concluding equation:

Comprehensive school-based sex education is effective in reducing teen pregnancy.

Reducing teen pregnancy is an important component of decreasing school dropout.

Therefore, comprehensive school-based sex education is an effective and important component of our state’s plans to further decrease school dropout.

Let that sink in for a moment…

Forrest L. Alton is chief executive officer of the S.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy.

Informative article on poverty's assumptions

To the editor:

This was a very informative article and, yes, somewhat surprising.   I liked your questions and the last two paragraphs very much.  

Politicians want short-term solutions and there are none. We seem so short-sighted and put bandages on when social change is needed to look at the long term.

I would add to your list:  a stable population, no growth policy,  slow immigration to a halt.

-- Jan Harman O'Loughlin, Charleston, 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:


From Haley to education to Revenue

Haley. Talking to business leaders about improving education is a start, Gov. Haley, but don’t forget to talk to education leaders, too. And then DO something. More.

Education. Statewide, standardized testing scores did go up, but not enough to hit statewide goals. More.

LLR. A fired regulator was given a neutral job recommendation and $120K after getting … fired? More.

Nukes. A delay in construction on Gaffney area nuclear reactors may mean there are more problems than just construction issues, like, maybe, need and safety. More.

Revenue.  Thumbs down to the state Department of Revenue for not keeping up with how much it is losing in potential sales tax revenues from the three-day sales tax holiday weekend.  Seems like the managers there would want to know that to help the state budget better.  Guess that's somebody else's job, huh?

Real estate. Foreclosure rates are dropping slower in South Carolina than in the rest of the nation. More.


Weekend warrior

RECENT STEGELIN: 7/26 | 7/19 | 7/12 | 7/5

Statehouse Report

Editor and Publisher: Andy Brack
Senior Editor: Bill Davis
Contributing Photographer: Michael Kaynard

Phone: 843.670.3996

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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