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ISSUE 8.50
Dec. 11, 2009

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

Index

News :
Jobs plans: UnreMARKable
Legislative Agenda :
Judiciary meetings on tap
Radar Screen :
Unimpeachable? Maybe
Palmetto Politics :
Divorceable? Certainly
Commentary :
It’s probably over, but it still ain’t over
Spotlight :
Moore & Van Allen
My Turn :
Share a longer opinion
Feedback :
Send us your thoughts on Sanford, lawmakers
Scorecard :
Thumbs up, down and in the middle
Stegelin :
Wheeeeee!
Megaphone :
Divorce, Columbia style
In our blog :
This week in the blogs
Tally Sheet :
Senate prefiles 118 bills

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NUMBER OF THE WEEK

6-1

ON IMPEACHMENT: 6-1. That was the vote by a special House Judiciary subcommittee this week to not recommend the full committee to impeach Gov. Mark Sanford. But they voted 7-0 to censure him. Sanford got another vote of no-confidence this week, as First Lady Jenny Sanford confirmed she has filed for divorce.

MEGAPHONE

Divorce, Columbia style

“Because Mark and I are public figures, we have naturally had less privacy with which to deal with our difficulties than do other couples... This came after many unsuccessful efforts at reconciliation, yet I am still dedicated to keeping the process that lies ahead peaceful for our family.”

-- First Lady Jenny Sanford, announcing today that she has filed for divorce from Gov. Mark Sanford.

IN OUR BLOG

This week in the blogs

Leadership. Political cognoscenti Brad Warthen blogged this week in light of stalled efforts to impeach Gov. Mark Sanford:

“Our state is in desperate need of better leadership. Or just leadership, period, for a change. The importance of this coming gubernatorial election cannot be overestimated.”

 Prefiles. The Wolfe Reports scoffed at the “important” bills that were pre-filed in the Senate this week:

“What about all those hippie yay-hoos and their scooters going hither and yon? Make those long-hairs get insurance!”

 Patterson. The Blogland of Earl Capps called recently deceased Grady Patterson a magnificent example of the Greatest Generation:

“As a father, veteran of World War Two and the Korean conflict, as well as serving in statewide office for over three decades, Patterson not only answered the call to duty in his younger years, he made service to his family, his state, and his nation the central mission of his life.”

TALLY SHEET

Senate prefiles 118 bills

State senators prefiled 118 bills on Tuesday. To find more detail on any bill, click here.

Streamlining. S. 897 (McConnell) calls for a state commission to streamline government and reduce waste. S. 984 (Rose) seeks a council on efficient government.

Zero-based budgeting. S. 898 (McConnell) calls for zero-based budgeting to be used.

Two on a ticket. S. 899 (McConnell) calls for a constitutional amendment regarding election of a Senate president pro tem, joint election of the governor and lieutenant governor, and several other positions.

Lt. gov. S. 901 (McConnell) adds language to state law to define “emergency,” “full authority” and “temporary absence” to clarify when a lieutenant governor can act in the event of an absence of the governor.

Fair tax. S. 902 (McConnell) calls for the SC Fair Tax act, which would repeal state taxes on income, sales and estates. S. 942 (Grooms) is similar.

Energy tax credit. S. 918 (Leventis) calls for a 25 percent tax credit for purchase of a geothermal heat pump system.

Drugs screening for unemployed. S. 920 (Thomas) calls for anyone who gets an unemployment benefit to submit to a drug screening, with penalties.

Party registration. S. 923 (Thomas) calls for party registration for eligibility for someone to vote in a party’s political primary. S. 938 (Fair) and S. 971 (Bryant) are similar.

Recall. S. 947 (Grooms) calls for a constitutional amendment on how public officials can be removed for office, including by petition. S. 995 (Rose) and S. 1002 are similar.

Obesity. S. 952 (Jackson) seeks passage of the S.C. Obesity Treatment and Management act to deal with high rates of obesity in S.C.

Cell, texting ban. S. 954 (Rankin) would prohibit drivers under 18 from driving while texting or using a cell phone without a hands-free device. S. 970 (Bryant) and S. 991 (Rose) would make it unlawful for drivers to read or send text messages or emails.

Animal cruelty. S. 958 (Knotts) would make it unlawful to restrain an animal in a cruel manner, with several provisions.

Sea turtle protection. S. 979 (Davis) seeks to enact the Sea Turtle Protection Act, which includes a prohibition on leaving personal items or temporary structures that interfere with sea turtles.

Health care. S. 980 (Bright) seeks a constitutional amendment that would preempt any federal rule that restricts someone’s right to choose private health care. S. 1010 (Rose) is similar. S. 987 (Rose) seeks the Freedom of Choice in Health Care Act.

The next scheduled date to prefile bills is for House members on Dec. 15.

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

Jobs plans: UnreMARKable

Gubernatorial candidates outline jobs programs

By Bill Davis, senior editor

NOTE: This is the second in a two-party series of the need for the next governor to have a comprehensive jobs growth and economic development plan.  See part 1.

 

DEC. 11, 2009 -- What‘s the hottest topic in the upcoming gubernatorial campaign? It‘s the same answer that‘s been given for awhile: “It’s the economy, stupid.”

 

With South Carolina near the top nationally in unemployment and state economic forecasters preparing for another year of pruning and whacking, the economy and jobs are beginning to eclipse other issues.

 

But are the 2010 gubernatorial candidates’ plans heavy on specifics or heavy on “a chicken in every pot” rhetoric?

 

Short answer: Rhetoric (cluck, cluck). Just consider that one of the candidates, state Superintendent of Education Jim Rex. doesn’t even list the economy on his “issues” page of his Web site.

 

Two messages have emerged from the public, according to a campaign staffer whose candidate completed a statewide listening tour. One, “I need a damn job.” And two, “Damn, I need a job.”

 

Responding to that sentiment, many of the 10 Democratic and Republican candidates have put forward bare-bones jobs and economic growth plans that share a some similar trends. The most common: not being like Mark Sanford.

 

Get Commerce moving

 

Several candidates, such as state Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw), have bemoaned the lack of marketing the state has suffered through under Sanford’s tenure.

 

Republican Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer said he would fly anywhere in the world to talk to business leaders about relocating to South Carolina. The implication: That relationship-heavy trips to Buenos Aires, like the one Sanford took to visit his paramour, would not be on Bauer’s itinerary.

 

“Guys like (Govs.) Beasley and Campbell built relationships through travel, not fanfare,” said Bauer. “To that end, I’ve already been to 20 different countries, and never on the state’s dime, to foster business relationships.”

 

One of the first actions attorney and lobbyist Dwight Drake said he would take if elected would be to fire his “neighbor and good friend” Joe Taylor as head of the state’s Department of Commerce.

 

Taking a dig at Sanford’s choice of a political ally to head up the job-creating cabinet post, Drake said South Carolina should follow the example of states like Arkansas and Mississippi which brought in cabinet heads with longer and more prestigious resumes.

 

Another similarity would be that many of the candidates would openly court the legislature, unlike Sanford who has been at odds with the legislature on issues of policy, law, and ethics that are too long to list.

 

Improve infrastructure

 

Many of the candidates, such as GOP Congressman Gresham Barrett, said they would fight to improve the state’s infrastructure, always a lure to business.

 

Keystoning “infrastructure” for several of those running, including S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster and state Sen. Larry Grooms (R-Bonneau), was the State Ports Authority, which brings big chunks of business and trade to the state, and competes with state ports system in Georgia and Virginia.

 

Cut taxes, better education

 

Cutting taxes, always a popular campaign plank, has surfaced on the agendas of many of the candidates, who were asked for this story to list their top-three jobs/economy solutions for this story.  

 

Charleston attorney Mullins McLeod (D), tipping his hat to the job-creating power of small businesses in the state, would cut their taxes for a short term boost to job creation. McLeod’s plan would have a second, long-term tier, as do many of the other candidates, who see the need to prepare South Carolina for an ever-changing job market.

 

As such, correcting statewide education lags, the lynchpin in Rex’s solutions, is seen as a way to change the state’s long-term jobs and economic prospects.

 

State Sen. Robert Ford (D-Charleston) makes the loudest case for linking education to the workplace, holding that “kids who can read can get jobs.” Ford goes further than most, by continuing to fight for private school credits.

 

Crystal ball:  Both Rex and Bauer say they will announce sweeping jobs programs in the new year. Will that be when the public is paying more attention? Will the other candidates respond with more specifics?  Let’s hope so.

 
RECENTLY IN NEWS
 
11/13:  Traditional issues get new spin for 2010
Legislative Agenda

Judiciary meetings on tap

Two committee meetings stand out in next week’s legislative agenda:

  • Senate Judiciary. A subcommittee looking into a bill that would limit a state official’s ability to hire outside lawyers will be discussed at 1 p.m. Tuesday in 105 Gressette. The bill.

  • House Judiciary. The House’s full Judiciary Committee will meet at 10 a.m. in 516 Blatt to take up the Sanford impeachment matter.

In other meetings:

  • DDSN.  The Commission of the South Carolina Department of Disabilities and Special Needs will meet on Thursday, at 10:30 a.m. in Conference Room 251 of the S.C .Department of Disabilities and Special Needs Central Administration Office, 3440 Harden Street Ext., Columbia, SC.
Radar Screen

Unimpeachable? Maybe

Gov. Mark Sanford dodged an effort to remove him from office when a special House subcommittee this week voted 6-1 to not recommend impeaching him over a host of alleged ethical lapses. Included are misuse of campaign funds and the state plane, as well as a state junket to South America that saw him visit his mistress, a woman for whom he allegedly “abandoned” the state for five days to later visit a second time. The subcommittee voted 7-0  to censure the governor. Sanford released a statement reaffirming his “moral failing,” but stressing that he did not abuse state taxpayers. More on future alternatives: See Andy Brack’s commentary below.
Palmetto Politics

Divorceable? Certainly

First Lady Jenny Sanford, fresh from her stint on Barbara Walters’ couch, confirmed today that she has filed for divorce from her husband. In a prepared statement, the future Ex-First Lady thanked well wishers for their prayers, that she and the boys were managing, and that she was committed to a peaceful future for her family. Gov. Mark Sanford was quoted the day before saying he still had hope for the marriage.  Read the divorce filing.

Stinky water

The S.C. Chapter of the Sierra Club is kicking off a new “Stop Swimming in Sewage” campaign to protest and change policies that have allowed, it claimed, 96 million gallons of partially to completely untreated water to flow back into the state’s lakes and waterways over the past decade. Because of pollution levels that merit concern, the Sierra Club wants DHEC to provide more information to people using the waterways and lakes for swimming, fishing, boating and the like.

Sad passing

Many across the state this week were saddened by the news that longtime state public servant Grady Patterson had died this week at 85 of natural causes. A fighter pilot in World War II, Patterson went on to serve as state treasurer for 37 years.

“Think of the example he set, compared to some in public office today,” Statehouse Report publisher Andy Brack noted.

Commentary

It’s probably over, but it still ain’t over

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

DEC. 11, 2009 – Anybody who thinks the potential impeachment of Gov. Mark Sanford is over isn’t recalling the words of Yogi Berra.

Andy Brack“It ain’t over ‘til it’s over,” Berra said in 1973 when the come-from-behind New York Mets nabbed the pennant on the final day of the baseball season.

For South Carolina, the state obsession with Sanford’s peccadilloes is far from over, despite some sloppy and misleading reporting by some news outlets. While Sanford certainly dodged a hurdle this week, consider:

Process. This week, the House impeachment subcommittee voted 6-1 to not recommend impeachment to the full House Judiciary Committee. But just because a subcommittee says one thing, a full committee can say another. The full committee on Wednesday will take up whether to impeach the governor. It’s not often a full committee goes against the recommendation of a subcommittee, but it’s been known to happen. And whenever 25 politicians get in a room over a hot political issue where they’re on the hot seat, well, you can fill in the blank.

House floor. Even if the House Judiciary Committee doesn’t send an impeachment resolution to all 170 members of the House for consideration, something could happen on the floor during the 2010 session to bring the issue up for a vote. (It probably won’t happen, but could.) 

S.C. Rep. James Smith, a Richland Democrat on the House subcommittee, voted against impeaching Sanford but said he believed the full House needed to settle the issue. “I’ve always felt this was not a decision for seven members of the House,” he said in a phone interview. “Impeachment is a constitutional prerogative of the full House.”

Ethics Commission. In a Wednesday statement, Sanford said the Judiciary subcommittee dismissed 32 of 37 ethics allegations against him. In the large scheme of things, that’s a little misleading because it makes it look like those charges are gone. In fact, the governor still faces action by the state Ethics Commission on all 37 violations of state ethics law. What the Judiciary subcommittee did had no impact on those allegations. 

Attorney General. The jury still is out also whether Attorney General Henry McMaster will file criminal charges against the governor in relation to the civil ethics violations. While McMaster, a gubernatorial candidate, may have been waiting on the House before sticking his finger in the wind to determine what to do, there is the possibility that the Sanford saga could hit the criminal courts. (With the House moving forward on a censure resolution, this also isn’t likely.)

Rep. Greg Delleney, the Chester Republican who is pushing hard for Sanford’s impeachment, said he’s not giving up. 

“I’m not quitting until it’s over,” he said. “As long as I have a breath, I’m going to proceed.” When asked why, he said, “Because it’s the right thing to do.”

On Wednesday, Delleney introduced a legal opinion into the record that another option existed for legislators who wanted to remove Sanford. It’s a little-known constitutional measure called “removal by address.” It probably has never been used. 

According to the opinion by Rutgers University Professor G. Alan Tarr, who runs the Center for State Constitutional Studies, South Carolina is one of the few states that offers “removal by address.” Article XV, Section 3 of the state constitution allows the governor to remove “any executive or judicial officer” for “any willful neglect of duty, or other reasonable cause.” [Download Tarr's opinion]

As Tarr contemplates, it’s unlikely Sanford would remove himself. But if the House and Senate passed a non-impeachment resolution to suspend Sanford from office and replace him with a temporary governor, the temporary governor could, in fact, send Sanford packing through the “removal of address” option.

Yes, this complicated option is as likely as snow in July at Myrtle Beach, but to suggest the whole messy Sanford imbroglio is over just ain’t so.

More than likely Sanford will be around until January 2011 when a new governor takes office. Until then, lawmakers need to deal with Sanford’s embarrassment to the state quickly, start concentrating on South Carolina’s big problems and push the increasingly irrelevant Sanford aside.

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Send us your thoughts on Sanford, lawmakers

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Please send to: feedback@statehousereport.com.
Scorecard

Thumbs up, down and in the middle

Magnets. U.S. News and World Report ranked Charleston County’s Academic Magnet High School as the single, best magnet high school in the nation, and 12th overall among its list of 100 “golden schools,” a slip of three slots from the previous year. Other state schools moved up in the rankings. More.

Centers of Economic Excellence. $250 million in new investment and 3,200 jobs? The program did a better job at improving S.C. this year than many.  More.

Jenny. First Lady Jenny Sanford announces divorce filings, sure to bring two things: more nasty national attention and closure.

Gubernatorial candidates. Wanna be governor? How about coming up with a jobs plan that does more than cut taxes, build roads, revamp tech schools …  zzzZZZZZZ …

Violence.  A new study reports statewide gang violence was up 1,000 percent over past 10 years. More.

Stegelin

Wheeeeee!


Also from Stegelin: 12/4 |  11/27 | 11/20 | 11/13 | 11/6 | 10/30
credits

Statehouse Report

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

Phone: 843.670.3996

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