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ISSUE 9.15
Apr. 09, 2010

RECENT ISSUES:
10/17 | 10/10 | 10/03 | 9/26

Index

News :
Work in progress
Legislative Agenda :
Game back on at Statehouse
Radar Screen :
Taking names
Palmetto Politics :
Senate to hash out budget
Commentary :
Learn from the Civil War to move forward
Spotlight :
S.C. Policy Council
My Turn :
Send us an op-ed or a letter
Scorecard :
Up, down and in the middle
Photo Vault :
Who's on the stump?
Stegelin :
"Something's in the air ..."
Megaphone :
Bring it on
In our blog :
In the blogs
Tally Sheet :
No bills introduced
Encyclopedia :
Camp Sorghum

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NUMBER OF THE WEEK

1,000,000

That’s how many BMW vehicles that have rolled off South Carolina assembly lines since 1992, as of Wednesday. More.

MEGAPHONE

Bring it on

"We could lead the world in nuclear re-purposing at the Savannah River Site ... We have all the assets for enormous prosperity and jobs in South Carolina, and this is one of them."

– S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster, and gubernatorial candidate, reacting to a news report that foreign-made, weapons-grade highly-enriched uranium had been shipped secretly to a South Carolina facility. More.

IN OUR BLOG

In the blogs

There seems to be less and less of interest in South Carolina's political blogs. We had to stretch to find some things for this week's installment:

Corridor of Shame. Wolfe Reports blogged this week that the major obstacle in passing a cigarette tax increase may be Sen. John Land (D-Manning) who is insisting some of the money go to I-95 projects:

“Even though the Senate passed a 50-cent cigarette tax increase, whether it will get out of the House and survive a veto override is increasingly looking in doubt. Fifty cents was a bit higher than what some wanted — 30 cents had looked more likely — and money designated for development of the I-95 corridor could be another weighty anchor.”

Top 10. Voting Under the Influence blogged this week a list of the Top 10 things not to say to a South Carolina candidate this year. What may be the worst of the 10:

“8) “Mr. Bauer, I think you are okay. My cousin is gay and I have no problem with him. Oh, you are not gay. Sorry, I was just going on the Sanford people’s stuff. Well, I have another cousin who speeds all the time, so we are still good. My grandma loves the blanket.”

TALLY SHEET

No bills introduced

With the House and Senate on furlough this week, no new bills were introduced.  Look for new legislation in next week's Tally Sheet.

ENCYCLOPEDIA

Camp Sorghum


In the wake of a yellow fever epidemic among federal prisoners in Charleston, Confederate authorities transferred 1,300 to 1,400 Union officers to the South Carolina interior in late 1864 to prevent them from infecting the local populace. They also believed that the prisoners were less likely to be liberated by Sherman if they were moved inland. The first prisoners arrived in October 1864 and were interned in a five-acre field near Columbia, on a hill overlooking the west side of the Saluda River (now West Columbia). To supplement the few tents available, many prisoners built makeshift structures by digging holes in the ground and covering them with tree branches. Because their diet consisted of cornmeal and molasses, the Union prisoners began calling their site "Camp Sorghum."

Due to poor sanitation and inadequate shelter, disease and malnutrition were rampant. As many as 20 to 50 prisoners died daily. To alleviate the poor conditions, Confederate authorities allowed limited paroles to find food and better sanitation beyond the camp boundaries. Sometimes this was used as a ruse to escape. Other methods of escape included bribing the guards or feigning illness to go to the hospital outside the camp's boundaries. One Confederate official claimed that Sorghum's 373 escapes were due to guards who were "very raw recruits [who] … require constant watching and instruction."

In December 1864 the camp was closed and the prisoners transferred across the river to Columbia, where they were interned near the South Carolina Lunatic Asylum until Sherman captured Columbia on February 17, 1865. The Union force liberated some of the prisoners, while others were forced north with their Confederate captors until released the following month in North Carolina.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Fritz Hamer. 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

Work in progress

2010 legislative session more effective, by comparison

By Bill Davis, senior editor

APRIL 9, 2010 -- Compared to the past two completed legislative sessions, the amount of work done in the first half of this year’s session has been considerable, several Statehouse sources agreed this week. But will the work-party end when legislators return from their Easter furlough on Tuesday?

There's a concern that with so much completed, that legislators will down-shift and cruise out of town weeks earlier than originally planned with little else accomplished. Why? Because they've been hampered by one of the tightest budgets in years and have a looming June primary and election in November for the House.

So far this year, legislators have tangled with issues they merely poked and prodded the last few sessions: a cigarette tax hike, sentencing reform, spending limits, increasing the general reserve fund, several environmentally-friendly bills and reforming the state’s embattled unemployment agency.

Reforming the Employment Security Commission has already been completed and signed into law by Gov. Mark Sanford, so what’s left for the “second half” of the session other than finishing work on the budget? Here's a list of issues:

Cigarette tax. The Senate recently passed a House bill held over from last year that would increase the tax on each pack of cigarettes by 50 cents. The bill has been sent back to the House, which had also included a 30-cent increase in a separate item in its General Fund budget package this year. Stumbling block: The 50-cent version the Senate sent back expands Medicaid programs, while the original House bill directed the collected funds into small business tax credits, intended to use private business to run health care offerings. But with Sanford threatening a veto if there’s not a corresponding, revenue-neutral, tax cut, the bill may die anyway.

General Reserve Fund. The House and Senate have passed versions of a bill to increase the amount of General Fund money held in reserve from 3 percent to 5 percent, and limit when and how the money could be spent. Stumbling block: Procedural changes. The measure is expected to pass through conference committee, even though some House brass have complained the problem with the state budget has not been the fund’s percentage, but the overall drop in revenues.

Economic development. House Speaker Bobby Harrell’s (R-Charleston) omnibus re-tilling of the state’s economic soil has been passed quickly and easily over to the Senate, where it could see more opposition from senators who are not up for reelection. Stumbling block: While no politician likely relishes the idea of standing against a bill with this title in a down economy, embedded corporate tax cuts could inspire senate Democrats to take a firmer stand, forcing the bill into a conference committee.

Spending limits. Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell (R-Charleston) fought for this bill to be sent to the House. The bill would tie the annual expansion of the state General Fund budget to historical increase over the previous 10 years. Stumbling block: House Ways and Means chair Dan Cooper (R-Piedmont) has not been a fan of tying budget-writers’ hands in trying economic times.

Sentencing reform. This may emerge as this session’s best bill. Receiving wide and bipartisan support in the Senate, the bill has been praised for its cost savings, keeping prison beds reserved for the most dangerous criminals and cleaning up the state’s “hodge-podge” of criminal statutes. Stumbling block: It is an election year in the House, which now has to vote on it. Politicians hungry for reelection may not want to appear soft on crime. But with Attorney General Henry McMaster calling for a relaxing on sentencing on drug crimes, it is expected to go through easily this year.

Voter ID. This may emerge as this session’s least popular bill, which would require voters to show photo identification before they vote. The Senate passed it with rancor, and the House, which now has it back, has already seen a filibuster and a walk-out of Democratic lawmakers over it earlier in the session. Stumbling block: Democrats largely hate it, but in a numbers game with only technical changes to the bill to mitigate, it likely will clear both chambers and conference committee this session.

Tort reform. Outside of the budget, this may represent the biggest fight in the Senate for the rest of the session. Stumbling block: Timing. Democratic opposition may not be as powerful a foe as the race to get the bill out of committee, where members are tied up on other issues, like the budget, in time to get to the floor to get back to the House before adjournment. (Because it is a House bill, it won’t fall afoul of the May 1 crossover deadline, when bills need two-thirds approval and not just a majority to be sent to the other chamber.)

Crystal ball: Before the ink on the “congratulations” card dries, legislators need to remember what already didn't get done this year. The Taxation Realignment Commission (TRAC) was supposed to have filed its report and recommendations by now. Instead its report has been put off until after the general election in November. All the while, the state’s General Fund twists in the wind. Also, remember last session when legislative leaders were fuming about the need to address K-12 funding? This year, they apparently didn't. Perhaps they'll get to it early next year before redistricting, thanks to the ongoing Census, takes over as the big issue in 2011.

Legislative Agenda

Game back on at Statehouse

With the House and Senate back from Easter furloughs, meetings will increase, with the House moving quickly to get its next round of bills out and the Senate doing the same while also juggling budget subcommittee and committee meetings.

In the House:

Raffles, more. Several subcommittees will meet Tuesday, with the most noteworthy being held an hour and a half after adjournment in 321 Blatt to discuss, among other bills, a constitutional amendment to allow charitable organizations to hold raffles. More.

Water wars. An Agriculture subcommittee will meet one and a half hours after adjournment Tuesday in 410 Blatt to discuss a Senate bill that would create water draw-down permitting in the state. More.

3M. The full committee will host a short agenda at 2:30 p.m. or an hour and a half after adjournment Tuesday in 427 Blatt. More.

Health insurance, parole. The full Judiciary committee will host a full agenda at 2:30 p.m. or one and half hours after adjournment in 516 Blatt to discuss bills that would block South Carolinians from having to sign up for federal medical insurance programs, as well as a bill that would change provisions in a law governing the paroling of sexual offenders. More.

Timber. An agriculture subcommittee will meet and hour and a half after adjournment Wednesday in 410 Blatt to discuss a bill that would streamline permitting of cutting of timber on DNR land. More.

Insurance. The full LCI committee will meet at 9 a.m. Thursday in 403 Blatt to discuss a series of insurance-related bills. More.

In the Senate:

Economic development. A Finance subcommittee will get an early start on the week, meeting at 2 p.m. Monday in 105 Gressette to discuss Speaker Bobby Harrell’s economic development bill. More.

Ag. The full Agriculture committee will meet at 10 a.m. in 209 Gressette to discuss a series of bills. More.

Nursing. The full Education committee will meet at 11 a.m. Wednesday in 406 Gressette to discuss a bill that would create a loan repayment program for geriatric nursing students. More.

Radar Screen

Taking names

The fight over roll call votes will begin heating up over the last months of this year's legislative session. One Senate bigwig, who asked for anonymity, complained that roll call votes on each section of the budget would have taken 31 hours. Considering that the Senate is in session Tuesday through Thursday for roughly three hours each day, it would mean additional days spent in Columbia and a huge chunk of time.
 
That same senator complained that if roll call votes were such a big deal in the House, where a bill originated calling for them, then why didn’t Harrell test-run roll-calling each section this year in the House? This could get ugly.
Palmetto Politics

Senate to hash out budget

The Senate will begin hashing out its version of the state budget this week in subcommittee meetings, with the budget expected to hit the floor in the last week of the month. There will be little to fight over, since there is so little money, $5.1 billion, in the General Fund budget this year.

But, senators, used to being able to provide services and perks and programs and projects to their voter base, will likely get heated. Why? Because instead of bringing home the bacon, the financial restrictions will mean offering less services and more to voters. A little bird said this week to watch the fight over Disabilities and Special Needs funding for fireworks in the Senate.

Turnabout is fair play

In the topsy-turvy world of Statehouse politics, a cowed Gov. Mark Sanford has been the most effective Mark Sanford. For years, Sanford rode a wave of populist support, but succeeded little in getting pet bills and projects pushed through the legislature. This year, stung by scandal and beholden to a legislature that could have impeached him, the governor has had arguably his most successful legislative year. Consider that this year he signed a bill giving tax credits (a relative first for him) to Boeing that landed a huge expansion of a plant here, and the overhaul of the ESC. Sometimes an animal is most dangerous when it’s wounded. Which may explain his continued fight against tax incentives for retail shops, like Cabela’s and Sembler.

Green Party enters the fray

The South Carolina Green Party has put forward 10 different candidates for state and federal office this year:

U.S. Senate: Tom Clements
U.S. House Dist 1: Robert Dobbs
U.S. House Dist 4: Faye Walters
U.S. House Dist 6: Nammu Muhammad
Governor: Morgan Reeves
Attorney General: Leslie Minerd
Superintendent of Education: Doretha Bull
S.C. House, District 24: D.C. Swinton
S.C. House, District 74: Christopher Jones
S.C. House, District 115: Eugene Platt

Commentary

Learn from the Civil War to move forward

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

APRIL 9, 2010 -- One hundred and forty nine years ago on Monday, Confederate troops bombarded Fort Sumter to open a national gash that oozed for more than a century. By the time the bloodiest of American wars ended in 1865, more than 662,000 Americans lay dead. While the total number of Union troops killed was greater (364,511), the South’s wound cut deeper because the estimated 258,000 Confederate dead came from a smaller regional population. One in four white Southern males between the age of 15 and 40 died in “The Lost Cause.”

 
Our War Between the States tested America and its notion of freedom. In the broadest sense, the war grew out of regional insecurities about slavery that evolved since the earliest days of the republic. Southerners felt they needed slaves to work the land in their agrarian-based economy. They long championed states’ rights and self-government to prop up a social, economic and political structure based on race. As the North industrialized, it sought a more centralized system that promoted economic development and expansion without slavery.
 
In the midst of two increasingly different outlooks, some sought compromise to bring people together. The war, historian Avery O. Craven wrote, “did not come simply because one section was agricultural and the other industrial; because one exploited free labor and the other slaves; or because a sectional majority refused to respect the constitutional rights of the minority.” Rather, he said, “politicians and pious cranks” ratcheted up the rhetoric on issues that could have been compromised (sound familiar today?) and whipped up the South against the North, and vice versus.
 
The war devastated the South. As Mark Twain observed in 1883, “In the South, the war is what A.D. [anno Domini] is elsewhere; they date from it.” Reconstruction rubbed salt in the war wounds of the white elite to the point that they figured out a way – Jim Crow laws – to constantly pick at scabs from the war and keep the free black man down for decades. Only after millions of Americans fought overseas during World War II did GIs returning to a segregated South start questioning America’s peculiar apartheid. “I fought the Nazis and returned home to find this?” many wondered.
 
"So when it comes to the Civil War, let’s avoid the bitterness that tore the country apart 149 years ago, be respectful, pull together and focus on how our great divide from the past can make us stronger now."
The landmark
Brown v. Board of Education case drove a stake into Old South segregation in schools. Then black leaders from the South led the civil rights movement to help America better realize its true dream of freedom and equality for all.
 
Today, despite huge leaps of progress, the country is still suffering from a Civil War hangover. Almost mimicking the spirit of those Pace salsa commercials on television, Southerners routinely are distrustful of new ideas and policies that emanate from New York City, Washington or places that are “off.” In turn, Northerners seem to still have caricatured impressions of Southerners and their values of faith, duty, honor, tradition and respect for the past. The residual effect is that there’s a lot of hollering and little listening, much the same as there was just before the start of the Civil War.
 
Throughout this next year, America has a choice on how to remember the Civil War. In one path, we honor the dead from both sides who gave their lives. We embrace a full, open discussion of what happened a century and a half ago. And we learn from it so we can take steps to make our democracy stronger. Or the country can go down the familiar path of vitriol and hatefulness, needlessly fighting old battles that can only cause more division, more problems and more pain in our over-partisanized, media-saturated America that is hurting more each day.
 
As Americans, we know what the right thing is – to engage in spirited, respectful discussions on issues to move forward to a common goal, a stronger country. So when it comes to the Civil War, let’s avoid the bitterness that tore the country apart 149 years ago, be respectful, pull together and focus on how our great divide from the past can make us stronger now.
Spotlight

S.C. Policy Council

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring SC Statehouse Report to you at no cost. This issue's underwriter is the South Carolina Policy Council. Since 1986, the Policy Council has brought together civic, community and business leaders from all over our state to discuss innovative policy ideas that advance the principles of limited government and free enterprise. No other think tank in South Carolina can match the Policy Council's success in assembling the top national and state experts on taxes, education, environmental policy, health care and numerous other issues. That ability to bring new ideas to the forefront, lead the policy debate and create a broad base of support for sensible reform is what makes our organization the leader in turning good ideas into good state policy. For more information, go to: www.scpolicycouncil.com.
My Turn

Send us an op-ed or a letter

Got an opinion on something -- tax cuts, tax hikes, education funding, offshore drilling -- that's longer than a regular letter to the editor?  Send us your thoughts up to around 600 words and we'll share with our readers.  You can also send letters, which are shorter, to:  brack@statehousereport.com.  We look forward to hearing from you!
  • 4/2: Gasperson:  No middle ground on education
  • 3/19: Couick:  Extraordinary SC effort on energy
  • 3/5:  Hair:  Let sun shine in on government
  • 2/26:  Browder:  Telling a story that should be told
  • Scorecard

    Up, down and in the middle

    Pew. The charitable trust is spending time and money trying to guide our state’s leaders toward a greener future. More.

    Sanford. You got to admire the guy for going to Myrtle Beach, the jaws of the beast, to rail against tax incentive packages for retail efforts; but you have to remember how poorly he’s done growing jobs in this state. More.

    Pollen. Worst it’s been in years. Rea(sneeze), excuse me. Rea(sneeze)ly? More.

    Hurricanes. Expect a busier than expected year. Great. Just great. More.

    Photo Vault

    Who's on the stump?

    Statehouse Report now is offering a new feature every week to highlight an historic photograph from the vaults of the South Carolina Political Collections at the University of South Carolina Libraries.  For this week, guess the name of this politician on the stump in South Carolina.  When you think you know the answer, click on the photo to find out the scoop:
     
     
     
    From The Vault is a partnership between Statehouse Report and the South Carolina Political Collections at USC Libraries.  To learn more about the Collection's holdings, click here.  You also might want to check out its blog:  A Capital Blog. Let us know what you think about our new feature:  Email Statehouse Report; Email SCPC.
    Stegelin

    "Something's in the air ..."


    Also from Stegelin:  4/2 | 3/263/193/12
    credits

    Statehouse Report

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

    Phone: 843.670.3996

    © 2002 - 2014 , 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/.