My Turn

Water rushed in to flood the Sea Pines area of Hilton Head Island (Photo by Bruce Draper, Palmetto Electric Cooperative).

MY TURN:  Flood risk assessment to force major change in local, state borrowing

By Fred Palm, special to Statehouse Report   |  A major transition just began in public finance now that two bond rating agencies, Moody’s and Standard and Poor’s, the say they will add the risk of flooding to  flood risk to financial risk when they evaluate the total risk.  The addition is expected to have a major impact on associated bond interest rates that state and local governments will pay to borrow up front for their major building programs.

Why the change? The rating agencies are concerned lenders can lose all their investments should flooding impacts become extreme. To date, only financial risk was measured. This new metric can be expected to impact the state and local public finance decisions of lenders and borrowers.

MY TURN: Adjusting for inflation: A lesson for future policy

MY TURN: Adjusting for inflation: A lesson for future policy

By Holley Ulbrich, special to Statehouse Report  |  A few years ago during the effort to get the state retirement system moving back toward solvency, the General Assembly did something unusual, interesting and worth copying in other contexts. 

Retirees had been getting a COLA (cost of living adjustment) based on the Consumer Price Index.  The General Assembly capped it at $500 a year, which meant that anyone whose state pension was more than $50,000 did not get a much bigger raise than the average pensioner.  The 1 percent limit has been fine during a period of low inflation, although it may need to be reconsidered if inflation heats up again.  But the cap is the interesting part.

The Consumer Price Index tells us what has happened to the cost of the things we consumers buy every day—food, clothing, medicine, dog food, electricity, housing, cable TV.  All retired people experience about the same increase in many of those costs—a price jump in the cable rates or the price of a kilowatt hour or a box of cereal. So why should the higher-paid retirees deserve to get a bigger dollar increase than the people who cleaned their offices or mowed the lawn outside the building where they worked?

MY TURN: Be the voice for our healthy families and communities

MY TURN: Be the voice for our healthy families and communities

By Ann Warner, special to Statehouse Report  |  Far too many women in South Carolina continue to struggle to access high-quality reproductive health care, and lawmakers continue to try to introduce new barriers to access.

We have seen countless attempts to undermine access to affordable birth control by refusing to fully implement the Affordable Care Act or allowing someone’s boss to take away coverage based on their own personal beliefs. Meanwhile, maternal mortality and unintended teen pregnancy rates continue to harm far too many women, girls and families in our state.

Since the 2005-2006 South Carolina legislative session, more than 90 harmful bills have been introduced in our state. This is despite the fact that recent polling data shows that 86.3 percent of South Carolinians agree that access to birth control helps the financial situation of families, and that 85 percent of people generally believe that abortion care should be available in our state.

MY TURN: Both sides need to stop gerrymandering

MY TURN: Both sides need to stop gerrymandering

By Elliott Brack, special to Statehouse Report  |  Gerrymandering is nothing less than a majority government being unfair to the minority of its citizens in a particular area.

It is also an obvious case of bullying by the majority government. If it happened on the playground, people would yell, holler and stop it.

Yet it’s happened repeatedly in our halls of government, and no major challenge has risen to outlaw this practice. Why can’t our legislators understand this unfairness, and move to outlaw it? It’s something that both our American political parties have practiced for years, trying to ensure that power remains in the hands of the at-that-time majority government.

Former Congressman John Jenrette and his former wife, Rita, in front of the Capitol in Washington during the 1970s when he served.  Photo provided.

MY TURN:  Jenrette saga was uplifting, comical, tragic and always exciting

By John F. Clark, special to Statehouse Report  |  When I first met my future boss, Congressman John Jenrette, none of the highly-publicized episodes that would later guarantee him a permanent place in the folklore of the nation’s capital—having sex on the U.S. Capitol steps, becoming entrapped in the FBI Abscam sting operation, experiencing his beautiful second wife, Rita, get naked for Playboy—had taken place.

Indeed, everything I initially knew about him was positive. He was progressive, intelligent, charming, perceptive, hard-working, kind, compassionate and possessing of many other positive attributes. My new book, Capitol Steps and Missteps; The Wild, Improbable Ride of Congressman John Jenrette

by · 11/02/2017 · Commentary, My Turn
MY TURN: Candidate says he would veto personhood bill

MY TURN: Candidate says he would veto personhood bill

By Philip M. Cheney, special to Statehouse Report  |  Passage of the “Personhood Act of South Carolina” (Senate Bill 217) would be a disaster for the state of South Carolina.  All women of childbearing age in South Carolina would be at risk because any miscarriage or stillbirth would subject them to charges of homicide.  Under this proposed legislation, “a human being is a person at fertilization.” (italics added for emphasis)

The forms of birth control which prevent the implantation of the fertilized ovum would be rendered unlawful, leaving only condoms, diaphragms and the rhythm method as lawful.

by · 10/26/2017 · 2018, Commentary, My Turn
MY TURN:  PBMS will save $10 billion in S.C. drug costs over 10 years

MY TURN:  PBMS will save $10 billion in S.C. drug costs over 10 years

By Dr. Edmund J. Pezalla, special to Statehouse Report |  There is so much rancor and finger-pointing these days over prescription drug prices that consumers are often left to wonder: who is fighting on their behalf? The answer: Pharmacy Benefit Managers, or PBMs.

Companies and public programs providing prescription drug coverage hire PBMs for their expertise, and ability to reduce drug costs by negotiating for rebates and discounts from big drug companies and drugstores. It would be too expensive and complicated for employers, or other payers, to match PBMs’ ability to reduce drug costs, while providing access.

Though drug makers continue to raise prices out of proportion to increases in value, PBMs are doing their job by keeping drug costs down. In fact, PBMs will save patients and payers in South Carolina $10.3 billion over 10 years.

MY TURN, Rex: Maybe we already are running government like a business

MY TURN, Rex: Maybe we already are running government like a business

By Jim Rex, special to Statehouse Report  |  On Oct. 3, the American public was treated to simultaneous televised congressional hearings with the former chief executive officer of Equifax and current CEO of Wells Fargo.  Hours of questions and testimony revealed the now all too familiar corporate cultures of greed, incompetence, stonewalling and misrepresentation.

Equifax exposed vast amounts of the personal and financial data of approximately half (145 million) of the American public, and Wells Fargo employees created millions of false accounts, on behalf of millions of their unsuspecting customers, in order to receive incentive bonuses.

by · 10/05/2017 · Commentary, My Turn