Sunday, Feb. 27, 2005
use of language starting to be part of bills
SC Statehouse Report
27, 2005 - - Authors of legislation in the General Assembly
seem to be taking cues from national politicians when it comes
to giving titles.
Instead of naming bills to describe what they do, some lawmakers
seem to be trying to win arguments early by attaching names
to legislation that sounds good - - even though the measures
might not do exactly what is claimed.
The best example today is the so-called "Put Parents
In Charge Act," an education reform measure that is a
thinly-disguised school voucher program. The bill, which is
being pushed hard by Gov. Mark Sanford and out-of-state interests,
essentially calls for a $4,000 per year tuition tax credit
to be given to parents who send their kids to private schools.
"Putting Parents In Charge," essentially, means
providing parents with a pile of cash that's steered from
public education into private school coffers. Opponents to
the measure say it's a structural way to undermine public
education for the benefit of a few.
"Legislation by title and emotion - - that's all I see
these days," said State Sen. Phil Leventis, D-Sumter.
Use of language in bill titles to win arguments is clearly
a part of federal lawmaking, as witnessed in a variety of
bills, such as President George Bush's "Clean Skies Initiative,"
which makes clean air rules less restrictive. Now state lawmakers
are catching up.
Progressive political linguist George Lakoff says using the
other side's language to describe legislation is a smart way
"This mollifies, even attracts, the people in the middle
who might have qualms about you," Lakoff notes in his
bestselling book, "Don't Think of an Elephant!"
"This is the use of Orwellian language - - language
that means the opposite of what it says - - to appease people
in the middle at the same time as you pump up the base."
WORLD: Computer incompatibility
Libertarianism gone wild
Thumbs up/down and mixed reviews
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Use of language as a tool may not have reached the dire levels
in South Carolina that it has in Washington, but here's a
list of bills - - some by Republicans and some by Democrats
- - before state lawmakers and what they really do:
- The Economic Development, Citizens and Small Business
Protection Act (S. 2, H. 3008) - - This is a measure
to change the civil justice system to cap non-economic damages
in civil lawsuits to $250,000. In other words, it's tort
- The Dairy Stabilization Act (S. 366, H. 3355) -
- This bill calls for a S.C. Milk Board to set fair milk
prices across the state to help its ailing dairy industry.
One GOP critic says it's nothing but a socialist ploy.
- The Landowner and Advertising Protection Act (S.
420, H. 3381) - - Known by critics as the Billboard Protection
Act, the measure calls for municipalities to reimburse private
property owners if communities remove billboards. The measure
is framed as a property rights bill.
- The Nurturing Responsible Families Initiative Act (H.
3021) - - This measure calls for the development of policies
to reduce people's dependence on government benefits and
calls for more involvement of fathers in families.
- The Protect Our Women In Every Relationship, or POWER,
Act (H. 3143) - - The bill is a fancy way of calling
for tougher laws against domestic violence. What's interesting
is not all domestic violence incidents are committed against
- The Defense of Marriage Act (S. 45) - - While the
proposal really says same-sex marriages from other jurisdictions
won't be recognized in South Carolina, the title implies
the very foundations of traditional marriage are shaking
and quivering. Essentially, the bill is part of a conservative
social agenda to irritate the gay community.
The list goes on, with the Right to Life Act, the Education
and Economic Development Act and the Unborn Victims Act.
Bottom line: When you read or see a catchy name of
a bill in the news, remember politicians are playing politics
with language. Read the whole bill before you make up your
2/27: Peeved pooch
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
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2/22: GOP politico says Dems need to
To the editor:
You are right on target. (Commentary,
2/20). At this point in the cycle, they should be
engaged in the guerilla tactics that were successful in the
run up to the '98 election. Day after day. At worst it would
make them relevant. That's what I would advise if I were on
-- SC GOP operative, name withheld upon request
2/22: Doesn't like "gotcha" cameras
To the editor:
The Republicans are at it again. Instead of instituting legitimate
ways to garner revenue to improve our SC Highway system, they
are proposing a government partnership with a private corporation
to have GOTCHA CAMERAS placed at key Traffic Lighted intersections
which would catch red-light runners on camera and sue them
as appropriate. The total fee would be split with the private
installer of the camera as that companies payment for parts
Statistics have shown that these GOTCHA CAMERAS actually
cause more accidents than they prevent yet our elected officials
are in the mood to move ahead with such legislation unless
you, a voting South Carolinian tell em to JUST SAY NO. There
are better ways to reduce this states abominable driver safety
status and GOTCHA CAMERAS is not one of them...
-- Bob Logan, Little River, SC
2/21: Dem says
party needs help
Your recent article (Commentary,
2/20) is right on the money. It's terrible what is
going on with our party's communication.
-- SC Democratic Party operative, name withheld upon request
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
Sanford. Hats off to the governor for pushing to restore
state trust funds raided in past budgets. Much of the funds
were taken from areas that supported conservation.
House budget committee. Congrats to committee members
for fully funding education at the per-pupil level for the
first time since 2000. We hope, however, that it's not the
good news before the bad news (which could happen if a school
voucher proposal passes and, ultimately, takes away money
from public schools.)
Voucher proponents. They've introduced a weaker version
to try to keep folks from jumping ship, but a bad idea is
still a bad idea.
Hinson. Republican Rep. Shirley Hinson's introduction
of a budget amendment to keep educators from communicating
by email with their elected officials smacks of heavy-handed
authoritarianism. If she can't take heat from constituents,
she should get out of politics.
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