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ISSUE 12.52
Dec. 27, 2013

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

Index

News :
What a year it was
Photo :
Old bank, Trio, S.C.
Legislative Agenda :
Open calendar
Radar Screen :
Moving to the middle?
Palmetto Politics :
New party on the rise
Commentary :
State makes some progress, but long way to go
Spotlight :
S.C. Association of Counties
Feedback :
Shine a light in a dark education corner
Scorecard :
Peppers are hot; Haley, Martin are not
Megaphone :
Minus one
In our blog :
Check out our new blogs
Tally Sheet :
How to find legislative bills
Encyclopedia :
Henry Timrod

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NUMBER OF THE WEEK

854

That’s the new zip code that will go into service in 2015 in areas that now have an 843 area code. The old code will still be in place, but the new one will “overlay” the same area so that customers will have to dial 10 digits to make local calls to ensure calls are routed to the right number. 

MEGAPHONE

Minus one

"In your position it's not right to advocate this. You lose my vote."

-- A Richland County resident upset that Gov. Nikki Haley posted a Christmas pistol on her Facebook page.   Florence political science professor Neal Thigpen noted in the same article that while Haley’s move wasn’t shocking, Republicans usually didn’t have to “reach” for the gun voter. More.

IN OUR BLOG

Check out our new blogs

In a new effort to expand policy discussions beyond the weekly issue of Statehouse Report, we offer some new policy blogs that look at economic, education, environmental, good governance and health policy in more depth. We’ll be ramping up in coming weeks, but you can get a flavor -- and bookmark -- some of these sites now:

Protecting voting rights, post-Shelby County, Alabama: "The League of Women Voters, along with our national and state voting rights partners, is calling on Congress to rise to the challenge and pass new, voting rights legislation that is bipartisan, can pass constitutional review, and include common sense fixes to protect everyone’s right to vote.
-- Barbara Zia in govt.statehousereport.com 
Other Statehouse Report blogs

ENCYCLOPEDIA

Henry Timrod

Poet and essayist Henry Timrod, pictured at left, was born on Dec. 8, 1828, in Charleston, the only son of a bookbinder, William Henry Timrod, and his wife, Thyrza Prince. Hedged by poverty, frail health, and the cataclysm of the Civil War, Timrod led a brief tubercular life that bore the stamp of the romantic tradition that he revered and defended among his neoclassical contemporaries in Charleston's antebellum literary circles.

Timrod attended the prestigious Classical School, where he befriended his lifelong ally and fellow poet Paul Hamilton Hayne. As a young man, Timrod enjoyed solitude, nature, and the contemplation of romantic love and death. William Gilmore Simms found Timrod "morbid," but the ever-loyal Hayne memorialized him as "passionate, impulsive, [and] eagerly ambitious." When scant resources precluded his graduation from the University of Georgia, Timrod returned to Charleston in 1846 to study law with James L. Petigru. However, as one contemporary put it, Timrod "was too wholly a poet" to find the regimen compatible. Until the outbreak of the Civil War, he tutored the children of Lowcountry planters while publishing his poetry and essays in Russell's Magazine (which he helped to found in 1857 with Hayne), the Southern Literary Messenger, and the Charleston newspapers. Harper's magazine hailed "the true poetical genius" of Timrod's Poems (1860), the only collection published in his lifetime.

Scholars generally concur that slavery and its ideological defense retarded the intellectual evolution of the antebellum South, particularly in the realm of letters. Timrod's 1859 essay "Literature in the South" buttresses this point of view. Southern readers at best, he wrote, were indifferent to southern writers, but more often criticized them "as not sufficiently Southern in spirit." According to Timrod, literature served merely as "epicurean amusement" for the South's "provincial" people. Even among the most learned, said Timrod, the "fossil theory of [classical] criticism" remained de rigueur. A devotee of romanticism, Timrod argued that the embracement of new modes of expression was not inherently subversive. In his other notable essay, an exchange with William J. Grayson titled "What Is Poetry?" (1859), Timrod vehemently rebutted Grayson's defense of verse as simply "form and order." Precisely for its disavowal and articulation of the modern sensibility in southern voices, the literary scholar Richard J. Calhoun has called this exchange "one of the more interesting critical debates in antebellum literary history."

Although Timrod opposed secession, the opening of the Confederate Congress in February 1861 elicited from him the exultant "Ethnogenesis," which prophesied the world made over in the image of a utopian South free "from want and crime." But as the war dragged on, Timrod's poems-"The Cotton Boll" (1861), "Carolina" (1862), "Charleston" (1862), "Christmas" (1862), "The Unknown Dead" (1863), and the postwar "Ode" (1866) - turned from ardor to apprehension and gloom, earning for him the sobriquet "Poet Laureate of the Confederacy." Lauding the "controlled eloquence" of his wartime compositions, the literary scholar Louis D. Rubin has written, "Nothing in Timrod's pre-secession verse really prepares us for this sudden maturation as a poet. It is as if the advent of secession and the war had jarred him loose from his preoccupation with his own personality, the obsessive self-consciousness of his role as sensitive spokesman for aesthetic Ideality, into an abrupt confrontation with his identity as a member of the civil community." Even so harsh a critic as Ralph Waldo Emerson chose to read Timrod's war poetry to New England audiences after the Civil War, a tribute to his artistry and evocation of the sectional crisis.

Timrod enlisted in the Confederate service several times, but his chronic tuberculosis led to repeated discharges. In the spring of 1862, as a war correspondent for the Charleston Mercury, Timrod witnessed the retreat of the Confederate army from Shiloh. Overwhelmed by the horror, he returned home and in January 1864 assumed the editorship of the South Carolinian, a daily newspaper published in Columbia.

He married his long-betrothed Kate Goodwin, the English sister of his brother-in-law, and on Christmas Eve their son Willie was born. Timrod remained at his desk while Sherman's troops destroyed the capital city, issuing "thumb-sheets" until the occupation forced him into hiding. Facing ruin and starvation, Timrod futilely sought employment, depending on the charity of friends and the sale of his meager possessions for survival. The poet's bloodstained manuscripts still attest to his precipitous physical decline after the death of Willie, "our little boy beneath the sod," in October 1865. Henry Timrod died from tubercular hemorrhages on Oct. 7, 1867, and was buried in the cemetery at Trinity Episcopal Cathedral in Columbia. In 1911, the South Carolina General Assembly adopted Timrod's "Carolina" as the state song.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Elizabeth Robeson. 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

What a year it was

A look back at our reporting in 2013

DEC. 27, 2013 -- It’s been a big news year for Statehouse Report with publication of lots of stories that provided readers with in-depth analyses that provided better understandings of all that happens at the Statehouse. 

Readers also were treated with several exclusives that put them in the driver’s seat in keeping up with what politicians and agencies are doing at the state level. Let’s take a quick look at some of the top stories offered this year:

First to tell you about

Reforming alimony. Statehouse Report outlined how a small group has made some ground in reforming alimony and has big plans for more reform.

Expired terms. We outlined how hundreds of South Carolina residents are sitting on state boards and commissions in terms that have expired.

DSS. Our story on how the state Department of Social Services is facing increasing legislative scrutiny provided readers with yet another agency’s problems to follow. In October, we broke a story on how a state legislator is so fed up with DSS that she’s calling for a new children’s agency. 

Islamic schools. Editor Bill Davis broke news about how state money could go to Islamic schools

Barbecue campaign. In October, we told readers how the state was spending $1.2 million on a campaign to promote barbecue as a tourism draw. 

Outside money. We also spent some time in November trying to explain how South Carolina is opening itself up to millions in out-of-state dollars by folks who don’t live here who want to tell South Carolinians how to live. A related story on Oct. 25 described how a battle over education advocacy is raging.

News analysis provides context

From the state’s 2012 computer hacking scandal that continued to have impact in 2013 to education funding, ethics reform and efforts to expand Medicaid to allow the poor to access federal health insurance, Statehouse Report provided insightful analysis on a number of issues that explained how government was working -- or not working. Among the highlights.

Hacking. In January, Davis outlined how the crossfire between policy and politics was retarding the state’s response to dealing with computer hacking problems. We followed up with a story in September to keep readers informed.

Ethics reform. We also described how overhauling ethics laws wouldn’t be easy. And we were right -- it’s on top of the legislative agenda in 2014 too. In December, contributor Corey Hutchins weighed in with the most comprehensive piece to date on how the state Ethics Commission is facing mounting criticism as lawmakers struggle with ethics reform. 

Provisos. Statehouse Report described the quiet process of how legislators use provisos to get around the budget process and deal with tough issues.  We also provided context in several stories about how the budget was progressing, such as a May 17 story about a three-way budget tug-a-war.

Campaigns. In August, we outlined how statewide campaigns were shaping up -- long before anyone else was reporting on them with any kind of depth. We also outlined how job numbers in the state may impact campaigns.

In-depth coverage

Statehouse Report also got into the nitty-gritty on two big issues that are impacting the state -- education and health care reform. Here’s a quick look at highlights:

Education. Throughout the year, Statehouse Report explained how leaders were having a hard time figuring out how to fund education in new ways and how solutions were unclear.   In March, Statehouse Report was first to outline how a behind-the-scenes education funding plan was fostering debate. Other key stories offered first by Statehouse Report outlined how:

Medicaid. Throughout the year, we offered news and news analysis to keep readers up-to-date on the conflict over expanding Medicaid, which ultimately failed.  Also, we:

Throughout the year, Statehouse Report also offered stories on how the Senate is changing, restructuring is still being bandied about and how the state treasure and pension board continue to squabble.

  • To take a look at all of our 2013 stories, click here to see our month-by-month news archive.
Photo

Old bank, Trio, S.C.

 

This building in the rural town of Trio in Williamsburg County was a bank and then a store with a post office. Now it’s closed, victim of out-migration from rural areas. Photo by Linda W. Brown of Kingstree.

Legislative Agenda

Open calendar

There are no major meetings scheduled next week at the Statehouse.

Already scheduled for 2014:

  • Transportation.  The Joint Transportation Review Committee will meet 11 a.m., Jan. 9 to screen five individuals for three positions on the S.C. Department of Transportation Commission. Notice of meeting.

  • Alimony reform conference: A statewide nonprofit dedicated to reforming South Carolina’s alimony laws will meet from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. January 11 at Dupre’s Catering, 300 Senate Street, Columbia. Keynote speaker is Steve Hitner, founcer of Massachusetts Alimony Reform. $15 fee to attend. More: Contact Wyman Oxner at 803.531.3002.

  • Opening of the 2014 legislative session: January 14, Statehouse, Columbia.
Radar Screen

Moving to the middle?

Over the next months as the state ramps up for the November elections, look for a real battle to become clearer between the tea party radicals of the state’s Republican Party and more moderate voices that seem to be increasingly tired and annoyed with the venom in Palmetto politics. Our bet: Tea party zealots will look good early, but as election time rolls around, more moderate candidates will prevail.

Palmetto Politics

New party on the rise

The American Party S.C. has submitted 16,080 signatures to the S.C. Election Commission to get on the ballot in the 2014 elections, according to its two chief advocates -- former Democratic state superintendent of education Jim Rex and former GOP gubernatorial candidate Oscar Lovelace.

To be certified, the commission will have to verify that the party submitted a total of at least 10,000 signatures of registered voters gathered in each of the state’s 46 counties.

“Sometime in January of 2014 we will hear from the Election Commission regarding the outcome of this process,” Rex and Lovelace wrote in an email. “We are confident that we will be told we have met and exceeded the minimum necessary number of 10,000 registered South Carolina voters’ signatures.

“This potentially historic certification will have occurred because thousands of South Carolinians said they were fed up with the status quo and wanted a dramatically different approach to politics in our state and nation.”

The new party is planning its first convention in the spring.

"Our candidates must be service-oriented individuals who are motivated by the call of public service, not by the lure of pursuing long careers in politics (term limits). Our delegates must believe in, and be willing to ensure, that our party and its candidates abide by our guiding principles and guidelines. Finally, our donors must be willing to make us competitive with the fundraising superpowers we are about to challenge."

Commentary

State makes some progress, but long way to go

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

DEC. 27, 2013 -- With visions of Tiny Tim still bouncing around in our brains and sugarplums rumbling in our tummies, 2013 will always be the year that South Carolina’s poverty hit home.

During several trips across our Corridor of Shame -- poor counties along Interstate 95 -- the pervasive shroud of poverty renewed its impact. One in four South Carolinians in this poverty strip, dubbed “Forgotten South Carolina” by The Post and Courier in February, live at or below the poverty level, which was $23,550 in 2013 according to federal guidelines.

Across the state, nearly 300,000 residents fell below the poverty line from 2000 to 2012, according to a Census report. Overall now, more than 874,000 South Carolinians -- one in five -- live in poverty. It’s one of the highest rates in the nation. In fact, South Carolinians generally are worse off now than in 2013. 

You see it in our towns, like Timmonsville where there are four times as many closed businesses on West Main Street than open ones. Poverty is visible along U.S. Highway 301 in rural areas where vines are taking over buildings that once were thriving restaurants, truck stops, motels, juke joints and stores.

What’s clear is poverty is at the root of many of South Carolina’s problems with education, health care and other issues. Families, like the state, just don’t have the wealth to deal with all that ails. 

Five years ago, Statehouse Report started an annual list of Palmetto Priorities to provide a policy map for where lawmakers should point the ship of state. Fortunately, there’s been some progress, but there’s still a long way to go. If we can make more progress, we’ll start to crawl out of the cauldron of poverty that has bubbled since the Civil War.  

Some progress made

JOBS:  Develop a Cabinet-level post to add, retain 10,000 small business jobs per year.  While there’s still not a cabinet agency, the state Commerce Department has a division dedicated to small businesses. And the state’s jobless rate now is 7.1 percent, the lowest in 10 years.

HEALTH CARE:  Ensure affordable and accessible health careAlthough South Carolina lawmakers miserably failed to accept billions of Obamacare dollars so the poorest of residents could access health care, more than 300,000 people in the state qualify for federal subsidies, which should make an impact over time. Best quick fix: Take Medicaid expansion dollars.

ENVIRONMENT:  Adopt a state energy policy that requires energy producers to generate 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.  The state still needs an overall policy, but utilities deserve a pat on the back for investing in solar farms.

CORRECTIONS: Reduce the prison population by 25 percent by 2020. A 2010 law on alternative sentencing gets credit for dropping the state prison population by 2.8 percent and saving $5.2 million.

ROADS: Strengthen all bridges and upgrade state roads by 2015. The state has $29 billion in needs. It borrowed $500 million this year, a drop in the bucket. Quick fix: Raise the gas tax to levels similar to surrounding states.

Lots still to do

ETHICS REFORM: Overhaul state ethics laws.  Even the Ethics Commission is now being criticized for being too cozy with the governor. Lots of work needs to be done to increase accountability and transparency. 

SAFETY: Cut the state’s violent crime rate by one-third by 2016.  We’re fifth highest in violent crime in the country. More needs to be done.

EDUCATION:  Cut the state’s dropout rate in half by 2020.  A 2012 report shows South Carolina has the fourth lowest graduation rate in the country with just 68.2 percent of students graduating on time. 

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.  Instead of irresponsible talk of eliminating the income tax which would impact the poor disproportionately, the state needs to do comprehensive tax reform.

ELECTIONS:  Increase voter registration to 75 percent by 2015. Only 56.6 percent of eligible South Carolinians participated in the 2012 presidential election. Pitiful.

POLITICS:  Have a vigorous two- or multi-party political system of governance. Yeah, right. Like this is going well.

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

ON THE TUBE:  Brack will appear 9:30 p.m. January 2 on "Carolina Business Review" on ETV's S.C. Channel; or at 5 p.m. January 8 or 6 p.m. January 10 on ETV World.

Spotlight

S.C. Association of Counties


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

Shine a light in a dark education corner

To the editor:

For some time now I have been very disappointed the policies and practices of adult education in our state, so your column in Free Times (Dec. 18-24) really struck a nerve with me. What has placed this matter on my heart most heavily is witnessing the struggle my beautician is having trying to earn her high school diploma at 40. She dropped out of high school as a pregnant 17 year old in the first semester of her senior year. She was very lucky to complete her cosmetology program and be licensed by the State of South Carolina. Today, she tells me, she would not have been able to earn that license without a high school diploma or GED.

Over the next 20 years, she worked as a cosmetologist and raised her four children. When she could not be employed at a state agency as a cosmetologist because she does not have a diploma, she decided to try to get a diploma. What has been so clear to me is that her options for earning a decent living as she ages are very, very limited, and it is that lack of options that have propelled her back to adult education to pursue her GED. 

I think no one is paying attention to the barriers this state has erected to adult education for those over 19 years old. Some of these barriers do not seem to make sense to me.

  • Why, for example, is there no option for a dropout to enroll in the on-line high school?

  • Or, why is there an age limit on who can attend evening high school where students have regular high school teachers and have the opportunity to earn a diploma based on credits earned, rather than taking the new, computer-only GED exam?

  • Why is there an entrance exam barrier to programs at the technical schools?

It just seems that the doors keep closing on my young friend-- rather than opening to give her hope and a better future. Even two of her sons, who are also dropouts, are over the magic age for attending high school to earn a diploma in the traditional way. Fortunately, her two youngest children are bright students and she is totally committed to seeing that they graduate from high school, and college, God willing.

 I am amazed that someone has decided that a 65-year-old woman like me can sit in a college classroom without harming the chances of an 18-year-old freshman, but if that woman did not have a high school diploma, she would not be allowed to sit in a regular evening high school classroom, or to attend high school on-line in South Carolina. What is the logic, especially for high school? I do not understand this and I am haunted by the fact that those who know personally the cost of dropping out of high school are faced with so few options to get back on track on South Carolina. What we are doing is not working.

I would just wish that somehow a light could be shined on what we are doing in South Carolina and whether there are better models for helping older high dropouts have more options for completing high school, not fewer. I hope you will look at this problem and decide to shine a light on the real impact of our policy decisions on the lives of people struggling to do better in this state. I sincerely hope that you and Free Times will look at the issue and decide to shine the light in a dark corner. 

-- Shirley Geiger, Columbia, S.C.

Drop us a line. 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

Peppers are hot; Haley, Martin are not

Pepper. We guess it’s good news that South Carolina now grows the world’s hottest pepper, the Carolina Reaper. Goes with the humidity. More.

Water Missions. Hats off to Water Missions International, the North Charleston nonprofit with a mission to provide clean water to 100 million people. It’s well on its way and deserves the national attention it is getting. More.

Converse. The Upstate college is leading the way nationally in lowering -- yes, lowering -- college tuitions. More.

Solar farm. Thumbs up to Santee Cooper and the state’s electrical cooperatives for a 3 megawatt solar farm -- the state’s first -- that is up and running now in Colleton County. More.

Haley. It may have been odd but smart politics to put a picture of your new 9mm pistol on the Internet, governor, but it doesn’t say a lot about your judgment -- especially since South Carolina is more than violent enough already.  This is one of those things you didn't need to do. More.

Martin. Thumbs down to state Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, for proposing a bill to make it illegal for state employees to unionize. While the practice long has been discouraged, it’s never been illegal. Why take away people’s rights -- even if they probably never will unionize? More.

Chumley. While a House ethics panel dismissed charges against state Rep. Bill Chumley (R-Spartanburg), it’s probably not a good idea to fly in partisans on the state dime to testify on bills you want passed.  That's what political parties are for.  More.

Out-of-state waste. Do we really need more nuclear waste dumped in South Carolina, this time from Canada? No. Bad idea. More.

credits

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/.