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ISSUE 8.51
Dec. 18, 2009

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

Index

News :
Moving on
Legislative Agenda :
No meetings on tap
Radar Screen :
Angry voters?
Palmetto Politics :
Sanford survives ... again
Commentary :
Praying for the end of the Sanford mess
Spotlight :
The Drummond Center
My Turn :
Campaigning, not governing
Scorecard :
Up, down and in the middle
Stegelin :
A new item for the bag?
Number of the Week :
6th and 12.3
Megaphone :
HE said it
In our blog :
In the blogs this week
Tally Sheet :
Last pre-filing of the year

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EDITOR'S NOTE

Holiday schedule

With the holidays ahead, we'll be publishing on a slightly different schedule.  Next week, we'll have our year-end issue -- and new poll results -- on Thursday, Dec. 24.  The following week, we'll publish as usual on Friday -- this time on Jan. 1 -- to start the year off with a bang.  Be safe during the holidays.

NUMBER OF THE WEEK

6th and 12.3

GOOD AND BAD. Two numbers this week: 

  •  South Carolina ranked sixth in a recent national “happiness” survey of quality of life issues like climate, crime rates, air quality and schools.  Wow, our climate must really be grrrreat. More.

  •  At the same time, the state’s record-setting unemployment rate for November was 12.3 percent, up 0.3 percent from the previous month.   More.

MEGAPHONE

HE said it

"You idiots can't do any better than to meet four times to talk about something as serious as impeachment."

-- State Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-Columbia), attacking fellow members of the House Judiciary Committee for side-stepping calls to impeach Gov. Mark Sanford for serious misconduct in leaving the state earlier this year to rendezvous with his South American lover.  In the 17-minute harangue, Rutherford complained loudly that as an attorney, he’d represented fired state employees charged with much lighter transgressions. More.

IN OUR BLOG

In the blogs this week

Term limits. Wolfe Reports blogged about a term-limits bill that has been pre-filed in the state Senate:

“We’ve yet to see a real benefit to term limits that outweighs the problems. Florida had tons of trouble when it instituted term limits, from a large number of inexperienced legislators who had no institutional memory and didn’t know what they were doing, to convenient redistricting. We have elections for a reason.”

Scoop. FITS News blogged about the “real” reason the House Judiciary Committee this week voted not to impeach Gov. Mark Sanford:

“Because there’s a gubernatorial election coming up, and one of the candidates in that race (Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer) would have gotten a jump start had S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster, the alleged front-runner in the race, actually done his job.”

Carol. The diSCust, a satirical Web site has shared with the world its own holiday carol, The 12 Months of Mark Sanford:

“On the twelfth month of Sanford, my governor gave to me/ 12% unemployment/11 ethics charges …”

TALLY SHEET

Last pre-filing of the year

In the last prefiling period of the year, House members prefiled just over 60 bills.  To look up any of the bills, go here. Here are the highlights:

Abolish CHE. H. 4227 (Merrill) calls for abolition of the State Commission on Higher Education and for its powers to devolve to individual colleges.

Tax liens. H. 4231 (J.E. Smith) calls for a prohibition from the state Department of Revenue from filing tax liens to enforce any tax liability payment that is subject to an installment plan with the department.

Budget cap. H. 4232 (Haley) calls for a budget cap on General Fund appropriations, with several provisions, including zero-based budgeting.

Health choice. H. 4240 (Duncan) calls for a constitutional amendment to prohibit enactment of any law that prohibits people from choosing private health care insurance plans.

Renewable energy. H. 4241 (G.M. Smith) calls for the state to create the S.C. Renewable Energy Plan, with several provisions regarding renewable energy.

Charter schools. H. 4243 (Owens) would amend and broaden state charter school laws in several ways.

Raffles. H. 4245 (Merrill) calls for a constitutional amendment to allow charitable organizations to hold raffles. H 4270, also by Merrill, is similar.

 

School funding. H. 4247 (Merrill) calls for revision of the state school funding formula.

 

Text messages. H. 4259 (J.E. Smith) would make it unlawful to drive a car while text messaging. H. 4282 (D.C. Smith) is similar.

HIV test. H. 4262 (Dillard) calls for prisoners to submit to an HIV test before their expected date of discharge, with several provisions.

Hybrids. H. 4272 (Merrill) would revise the tax credit for plug-in hybrid vehicles, which several provisions.

Term limits. H. 4275 (Haley) calls for a constitutional amendment for legislative term limits.

House terms. H. 4279 (Hosey) calls for a constitutional amendment to make House terms be four years, instead of two.

Green programs. H. 4283 (Gunn) calls for a small business and green jobs microloan and microgrant program in the state Energy Office, with several provisions.

Freedom of information. H. 4287 (Harrison) would restrict some public information based on law enforcement sensitivity. The measure would restrict the free flow of some information currently allowed.

ENCYCLOPEDIA

Pines

Nine native pine species are found within South Carolina. Three species are restricted to the upper Piedmont and mountain regions, three are found nearly throughout the state, and three are found primarily within the coastal plain.

Pines are extremely important economically and ecologically within South Carolina. More than 5,750,000 acres of state forestland contain pine as important or dominant cover. Pines form the basis of the timber industry in South Carolina and make up the number-one cash crop in the state with approximately $900 million in receipts annually and employing more than 35,000 people.

South Carolina pines can be divided into two general groups, white pines and yellow pines. Yellow pines have needles in groups of two or three, while white pines have needles in groups of five. The only member of the white pine group found within South Carolina is the eastern white pine (Pinus strobus). It is restricted to the mountains and upper Piedmont but is planted as an ornamental throughout much of the state.

  • READ A REPORT: Last week, the National Wildlife Federation released an interesting and important study on how longleaf pine forests help reduce global warming. Take a look.

Among the yellow pines, the loblolly is the most abundant. This species, along with the similar slash pine (Pinus elliottii), is preferred for use on pine plantations. More than 4 million acres of forest in the state are classified as loblolly pine forest, while 2.4 million acres are in loblolly pine plantation. The loblolly pine was historically found in the lower Piedmont and coastal plain but has spread throughout the state through timber planting. Slash pine is native to the southern portions of the coastal plain but is planted throughout the coastal regions.

Historically, the most abundant species in the coastal plain region was the longleaf pine (Pinus palustris). This species is well known for its extremely long needles and large cones. It requires low-intensity ground fires to persist and has declined dramatically over the last century due to fire suppression and conversion of longleaf pine forest into loblolly pine plantations and agricultural fields. Longleaf pine is a keystone species in the longleaf pine savannas and flat woods that are home to some of the state's most unusual and endangered plant and animal species.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Patrick McMillan. 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.) 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

Moving on

New poll says electorate tired of Sanford's woes

By Bill Davis, senior editor

DEC. 18, 2009 -- “Sanford’s stubbornness has worn us all down,” said Jeri Cabot, who teaches political science at the College of Charleston after reading a brand new InsiderAdvantage/Statehouse Report poll.

Among the questions asked 770 registered voters across the state on Dec. 15 was one that focused on what should be done about Gov. Mark Sanford: Should he resign, or be impeached or be censured?   Or perchance, should the legislature move beyond Sanford? 

The majority has spoken: Get over it.

As counter-intuitive as it might seem, there is little to suggest there is any strong political will among South Carolina voters to remove the governor from office, or even to take punitive measures against him,” said Matt Towery, chairman and CEO of InsiderAdvantage, which conducted the poll with Statehouse Report. “Much of the public just doesn’t seem to care one way or the other.”

According to the poll, 23 percent of respondents called for Sanford‘s resignation and 11 percent wanted the legislature merely to censure him. Yet only 1 in 7 people, or 14 percent of those polled, wanted Sanford impeached.   

Those results, which had a margin of error of +/- 3.4 percent, dovetailed with a special House Judiciary subcommittee, which voted 6-1 not to impeach him earlier this month.

Sanford pollBut 51 percent of respondents agreed the legislature should “stop wasting its time” over Sanford’s alleged ethical lapses and get down to the real work of benefiting the state’s citizens.

Consider, too, that Democrats, the state’s opposition party, were split nearly down the middle on the Sanford issue.

Just 36 percent of Democrats polled favored impeachment, even after Sanford became national comedy fodder for his hike on the Appalachian Trail that ended up being a visit to Argentina to see his paramour.

But nearly the same percentage, 33 percent of Democrats, agreed with nearly 60 percent of Republicans and independents, that the legislature should move on.

Cabot, who doubles as the school’s dean of students, said she was surprised by the number of women polled not calling for Sanford’s head, with nearly 56 percent saying the matter should be dropped.

Slightly more men than women (26 and 21 percent, respectively) wanted Sanford to resign.

“For the last six months, lawmakers have been caught up in what to do about Gov. Mark Sanford’s shenanigans,” said Statehouse Report publisher Andy Brack, about the publication‘s first-ever poll. “After six months of headlines, it’s pretty clear people are sick of it and want the legislature to start working on things like better jobs, better education, and policies that make a difference in their lives.”

Erskine College political science professor Ashley Woodiwiss said the entire poll was revealing because  the “political payoff of this poll bodes well for the Republican Party as we head towards the 2010 elections.

“The Democrats, who always have a hard row to hoe in state elections, don't appear to be getting much electoral payoff from either the troubles within the GOP or from the present tough situation confronting our state.”


InsiderAdvantage (www.InsiderAdvantage.com) is a polling and research analysis firm located in Atlanta, and whose polls have appeared in a host of media outlets.

Next week:  The gubernatorial horse race and whether the state is moving in the right direction.

Legislative Agenda

No meetings on tap

Because of the holiday season, there are no major legislative meetings set for the coming week.

Radar Screen

Angry voters?

As unemployment rates continue to rise, and as the state’s services and agencies are cut, look for a very angry electorate in voting booths next November.

Palmetto Politics

Sanford survives ... again

The full Judiciary Committee in the state House of Representatives met this week to take up the matter of the proposed impeachment of Gov. Mark Sanford. Earlier, a special subcommittee voted 6-1 to recommend that he not be impeached. Then they voted to recommend that he be censured. 

The full committee followed suit, voting 18-6 this week not to impeach, but voting unanimously to offer an official rebuke of the governor for leaving the state for five days to meet with his Argentine lover. Sanford still faces more ethical and personal hurdles, including a filed divorce from his wife. Legislators can still file stand-alone bills on the floor of the House or Senate, as well as attaching impeachment/removal amendments to popular bills.

Commentary

Praying for the end of the Sanford mess

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

DEC. 18, 2009 -- Two things surprised me about a new poll on what South Carolinians think should be done about our philandering governor, Mark Sanford.

First, only 1 percent of the 770 registered voters who responded to our InsiderAdvantage/Statehouse Report poll had no opinion of what should be done about the governor’s behavior, which has turned South Carolina into a running joke everywhere from water coolers to late night television. For only 1 percent of people to have no opinion about options for his fate shows just how deeply his personal failures have cut into the state’s psyche.

Second, a majority of those polled -- 51 percent of respondents -- said the General Assembly should move beyond Sanford and get down to real work of helping people throughout the state. So instead of impeaching him or censuring him or saying he should resign, most South Carolinians pointed the finger away from Sanford and toward the legislature. 

The clear message of the poll was that most people – and more Republicans and Independents than Democrats – think it’s just time to move on. If legislators have a half a brain, they’ll forget about the governor’s case, put the whole mess behind them, and start trying to figure out ways to cut the state’s 12 percent unemployment rate and improve its perennially poor education system.

With House Judiciary Committee this week voting unanimously to recommend censure to the General Assembly, maybe the state’s very public encounter with Sanford as a modern, gothic Faulknerian protagonist is about to be over. Despite the year he still has in office, it will be a lackluster time during which the governor will cough the libertarian rhetoric he used to spout with passion.   Instead of having a bully pulpit, he’ll struggle to find pit stops of political relevance. 

Yes, the Sanford saga soon should be over – but only, of course, if bottom-feeders in the media can get over it.  It’s been hard to pick up a local newspaper or turn on the television over the last few months without seeing the latest speck of new (mostly meaningless) information about the Sanford family. Either it was the governor at an endless series of Rotary club meetings apologizing for his behavior (a club in Charleston agreed to invite him – at his request – only if he didn’t apologize and instead talked about issues; of course, he couldn’t resist apologizing again for his moral failings.) Or it was Mrs. Governor, First Lady Jenny Sanford, enflaming the media even more by appearing in a national magazine story or giving a big TV interview or issuing a press release about how she was trying to protect her family. Whenever something happened, the too-sensational media was there in full froth to pick up the inanity of whatever was the next Sanford thing.

So with the Year of Sanford winding down, let’s wish for a few things for the new year:

Let’s hope our state can move on, not only for the people’s sake but for the Sanford family’s sake. Let’s start to leave the governor alone on this personal issue. The governor has suffered, as have his wife, sons and family. Send a message to the media to not go nuts when the state Ethics Commission has a hearing soon about allegations of 37 violations by the governor. Turn off the television if reporters are invasive in February in the Sanford’s very public divorce.

Let’s also hope the General Assembly can resist the urge to obsess about the governor in the 2010 session. There’s enough stuff that needs to be addressed seriously that wasting more time on the Sanford mess just plain ain’t smart.

It’s time to move on.

Spotlight

The Drummond Center

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring SC Statehouse Report to you at no cost. This week's spotlighted underwriter is The Drummond Center at Erskine College. The goal of the Drummond Center, named in honor of SC Sen. John Drummond, is to perpetuate statesmanship in South Carolina, while providing a new political science major for Erskine College. The center, hosted by Erskine College, seeks to promote civil discourse in a non-partisan spirit for the betterment of the South Carolina political community. Learn more: The Drummond Center.
My Turn

Campaigning, not governing

By Fritz Hollings
Former U.S. senator, D-S.C.

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- I thought I was through for the year [See Dec. 15 commentary on "Nothing gets done"], but the President’s idea of a commission to study the budget problem is what’s wrong with Washington.

I saw this nonsense develop.  When I came to the Senate in 1966, we had year-to-year budgets. But the Appropriations Committee was broken down into thirteen functions and the one function didn’t know what the other twelve were doing. When we summed up at the end of the year, we had a budget that exceeded everyone’s spending limits. So we instituted the Budget Committee to get an allocation for each particular function at the beginning of the year, and important programs were not ruined by cuts across the board in the old procedure.  As we instituted the budget process, the economists taught us that a three-year budget was more realistic.   But three years became five years, and five years became ten years, and ten years now is about to become a study commission.

When Dick Lugar was Mayor of Indianapolis, he had to submit a budget each year that would pay the bill. If he had submitted a five or ten year budget, Wall Street would have downgraded his credit rating. The same with Mark Warner as Governor of Virginia. Every mayor, every governor, in America next year will submit budgets that will be paid for in a year. And the President and Congress ought to approach the problem like a mayor or a governor. Even a three year budget that would pay the bill would be salutary. But this nonsense of campaigning by appointing a commission instead of governing has got to stop. We elected President Obama not to referee, but to play. Not to campaign, but to govern. Tell him as President to submit his budget that will pay the bill.

Fritz Hollings served from 1966 to 2004 as a Democrat from South Carolina in the United States Senate.  A former chairman of the Senate Budget Committee, his views can be read online at Citizens for a Competitive America.

Scorecard

Up, down and in the middle

Economy. A week after another draconian state budget cut, and it turns out tax revenue collections are on track, and cuts may not be needed!  For now. More.

Rutherford. State Rep. Todd Rutherford’s rant about the House Judiciary Committee dropping the “impeach Sanford” ball has an added benefit of him calling state leaders “idiots”. Is he right? More.

Housing. Real estate sales up 62 percent across state compared to last November.  More.

Bernanke. Fed chair Ben Bernanke, a Dillon homeboy, was named Man of the Year by Time Magazine.   Congrats. More.

Unemployment. While the state’s unemployment rate “spiked” at record-high 12.3 percent in November, unemployment benefits can be extended to up to 99 weeks.  More.

DHEC. Members of the beleaguered agency’s board met in secret (and legally) recently to discuss proposed bills that would drastically alter how DHEC does business.  First order of business: no secret meetings?  More. 

Trifecta. South Carolina was a major contributor to Yale’s annual quotes of the year list. In short, we LIE about the APPALACHIAN TRAIL while we KEEP YOUR HANDS OFF OUR MEDICARE.  More.

Stegelin

A new item for the bag?

Stegelin cartoon
Also from Stegelin: 12/11 | 12/4 | 11/27 | 11/20 | 11/13 | 11/6
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/.