Sunday, Dec. 26, 2004
hope you all have a great holiday season.
legislative session will be defining
SC Statehouse Report
26, 2004 - -Whatever happens in the General Assembly from
January to June next year, one thing is for certain: it will
be a defining session for state lawmakers.
- Sanford. Gov. Mark Sanford needs some legislative
victories in his third year as governor. So far, hes
not won much. If he can persuade legislators to go along
with his controversial income tax reduction plan or school
voucher proposal, hell have some meat on which to
run for re-election in 2006.
- GOP leaders. Not only has Republican Sanford had
a hard time with a General Assembly run by his own party,
but Republican leaders have had a hard time playing together.
If the House and Senate dont work out differences
in moving through major legislation, there will be serious
questions about whether the GOP can effectively govern even
though the party can win elections.
- State Senate. In the opening week of the session,
Senate Republicans may push through rules to limit filibusters,
which will make it easier and quicker to push legislation
through the chamber. If this is accomplished - - and is
the only thing done in 2005 - - the legislative process
will become remarkably different. Instead of the Senate
being a safety valve to stop bad legislation, bills that
otherwise might be derailed may pass and cause damage to
- Democrats. Just as Sanford needs some wins, Democratic
lawmakers need cohesion. If Democrats in the House and Senate
dont pull together to become an effective minority
party, their fortunes may continue to wither.
WORLD: Rumsfeld Christmas
Good on yo-yo approach
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This month, lawmakers have prefiled scores of bills so that
theyll have some work to do when the session starts
in January. So far, most of the bills are a continuation of
unfinished business from past years. Here is a short list
of major issues to be considered by legislators in 2005:
- Income tax reduction. The governor is calling to
reduce income tax rates slowly as the state grows, although
the complicated plan hasnt picked up much steam.
- School vouchers. The Put Parents In Charge
proposal would allow tax credits for parents who have their
children in private schools or home schools. The measure
is getting a big push from the governor and interests from
outside the state, but word is some GOP lawmakers are on
the fence about its effect on public education.
- Restructuring. There are more than a dozen proposals
to make some elected officials, such as adjutant general
and state superintendent, become appointed officials. Other
proposals would change the structure of government agencies
to achieve efficiencies and make government more effective.
Of the three major measures pushed by Sanford, restructuring
may be easiest.
- Tort reform. New rules on medical malpractice lawsuits
and trial venues may be just around the corner. Lawmakers
almost reached a decision last year. This year, the pump
may be primed for reform of the civil justice system.
- Tax code. While income tax reform may be ahead,
lawmakers likely will revisit the whole tax code, including
a proposal to cap property taxes that passed earlier in
the year but was recently vetoed by Sanford.
- Minibottles. Voters said they wanted minibottles
retired. Now lawmakers have to pass enabling legislation
to make it happen.
- Hog farms. A controversial measure to allow local
governments to regulate things like hog farms more strictly
than the state will again make headlines.
- Wetlands. Look for another round of battles on
isolated wetlands rules that pit business, development and
Realtors against conservationists.
- Business development. A new issue that moves to
the forefront is an effort by GOP leaders to do more to
give incentives to small businesses to grow jobs.
The 2005 legislative session will be a year of ifs.
If the GOP gets its act together, the way the state operates
and people fund government could change remarkably. If they
dont, Democrats may get an opening to campaign on Republican
12/26: A Rumsfeld
The latest from cartoonist Bill McLemore:
12/20: Good on the yo-yo factor
To the editor:
Very good commentary (12/19,
Commentary) on the "yo-yo" factor of state
policy. CONSISTENCY is important, especially in the basic
and essential functions of state government. Could the same
concept apply to the management of the state's public service
authorities, including Santee Cooper and the SPA, (he asked
-- Name withheld upon request, Summerville, S.C.
priorities commentary rings true
This so true (12/19,
Commentary). As a retired government worker I can
testify to what these ups and downs do to literally paralyze
an agency. When a downsizing occurs, employees turn their
total attention to "who's next" since the firings
are based on seniority. I was one of those who stayed during
a downsizing and waited for two years for the agency to recover
some sense of forward motion!
Unless you've been in bureaucracy, you have no idea what these
ups and downs do to morale, and overall effectiveness of an
-- Dwight Fee, Murrells Inlet
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