S.C. Statehouse Report
March 14, 2004
VIEW: http://www.statehousereport.com/columns/04.0314.veto.htm


COMMENTARY
Jobs bill veto should not hurt Sanford
By Andy Brack
SC Statehouse Report

MARCH 14, 2004 -- Because Gov. Mark Sanford is still without a major legislative victory since being elected in 2002, you'd think he wouldn't veto a jobs bill that is important to state legislators.

But veto it he will, most likely. And interestingly, it probably won't cause him too many problems.

"Maybe he's a lot like the Chicago Cubs," one legislative insider mused. "He can lose and the public still loves him."

In the past week, the House and Senate approved a jobs bill packed with a lot of stuff that will benefit a lot of constituencies. Not only would it allow the state to borrow up to $500 million for college research and economic development projects, but it would provide incentive tax credits to attract pharmaceutical and biotech companies - - including one that reportedly will bring a lot of jobs to the Upstate.

Furthermore, the bill would create a $50 million venture capital fund to help startup companies. It also would allow Trident Technical College to establish a four-year culinary arts program, which would help to mitigate Charleston's loss of the Johnson and Wales school that fuels young talent into tourist-packed restaurants. Finally, the bill would allow USC-Sumter to transform from a two-year to a four-year university.

This last bit is the rub for Sanford, who has threatened to veto the whole bill since last year because he believes it's inappropriate to expand the university system - - especially when he wants to close the USC-Salkahatchie and USC-Union campuses.

But remember, Sanford is scoreless on major legislative initiatives last year and this year in the General Assembly. Why would he veto something an overwhelming majority of House members and senators approved? Why would he even consider such a thing when he still wants state lawmakers to approve his income-tax reduction plan, a school voucher plan and a major restructuring of state government?

   

ALSO THIS WEEK

McLEMORE'S WORLD: Weight debate

SCORECARD: Winners and losers of the past week

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Because he can. First, he knows the legislature likely will override the veto. Second, they know he knows, so they're not really threatened by the potential veto. They'll just override it and move along.

A long-time Republican lobbyist called this a win-win scenario for state lawmakers and the governor. They'll win because they'll get the bill packed with a lot of legislative Christmas gifts. And Sanford can veto the bill without fear of looking hypocritical if had he signed it.

"I don't think he really cares what the legislature thinks," another observer noted. "He's more concerned with the public."

* * *

Here's a dumb idea: Amend the state constitution to protect hunting and fishing.

For the last half dozen years, I've sat on a non-profit board of a large state hunting, fishing and conservation organization. In all of that time, I can't remember any of the hunters or anglers complaining their rights to hunt and fish were threatened.

Yet that hasn't stopped an obviously partisan attempt to push through a constitutional amendment to guarantee the right to hunt and fish to South Carolinians. The bill, offered by Rep. Brian White, R-Anderson, has passed the SC House and now is in the Senate.

State wildlife officials say they didn't ask for the bill. They're more concerned with legislative attempts to cut their budget more. As best as we can tell, major hunting and fishing organizations aren't hot and bothered about the measure.

What's irksome about the proposal is it seeks to amend the state constitution with a measure, that as far as we can tell, really isn't on anybody's radar screen. For the state constitution to maintain its integrity, lawmakers should resist attempts to fiddle with it - - especially over something like this.

Proponents of the bill appear to be pushing the bill for political purposes. They appear to think it will rally a conservative base to their side in a presidential election year. But the bill may backfire. Its unintended consequence may be that it gets animal rights people hot and bothered about something they may not have really considered an issue.

Let's hope this one dies a quick death in the Senate this year.


McLEMORE'S WORLD
Weight debate

This week's cartoon by our Bill McLemore:


SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD

Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various political events from the past week:

Thumbs up

Sanford, House Dems. Congrats to the governor and House Dems for objecting to reliance of one-time monies in the new budget.

Legislature. Congrats on approving the Life Sciences Act - - the packed jobs and economic bill that passed both chambers. Let's hope the overwhelming support will continue in face of a probable gubernatorial veto.

Thumbs down

GOP House. The leadership ran roughshod over the SC Conservation Bank by underfunding it and then fiddling with the money (and taking away authority of bank members) by steering $5 million for beach renourishment -- a different mission than the bank was set up to fund.


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