Sunday, May 22, 2005
Little time left,
but still lots to do at Statehouse
SC Statehouse Report
22, 2005 -- With more than 90 bills passed by the General
Assembly this year and sent to the governor for his signature,
you'd think lawmakers would be all worked out.
But with two weeks left in the session, there's still a lot
of work. It might not be the major work of tort reform, vouchers
and budgeting that took up most of the session, but there's
going to be a last-minute frenzy as the June 2 end of session
looms. Here's a snapshot of major issues still in the hopper:
Vetoes. One of the best stories we heard this week was that
of a Republican state senator who said something like the
following during a blessing: "Lord, please bless this
food and help us override all of these dad burned vetoes."
The sentiment in the House and Senate, for a second year in
a row, is that GOP Gov. Mark Sanford has been far too free
with his veto pen (163 this year). Lawmakers plan to send
him a message in the coming weeks by overriding most of the
House Minority Leader Harry Ott, D-Calhoun, said lawmakers
likely would override the vetoes because they're trying to
bring a little balance to all of the program and service cuts
suffered by state government in recent lean years.
"He [Sanford] has probably enjoyed all of these cuts
we've had over the last few years because it downsized government,"
Ott said. "All we're trying to do is restore some of
the needs of the citizens of South Carolina."
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Free-pour liquor. House and Senate conferees are bickering
over final details of a measure that would allow bars and
restaurants to serve drinks poured from regular bottles, instead
of mini-bottles. The sticking point appears to be a House
idea for liquor wholesalers to be able to sell to bars and
restaurants, while the Senate says distributors - middlemen
- ought to have the job. The Senate plan seems more reasonable
because otherwise, wholesalers (who also sell to distributors)
would undercut distributors and run them out of business.
If lawmakers can't make a decision, they need to remember
that voters in November asked for free-pour liquor, not new
rules on liquor distribution.
State retirement. House and Senate conferees are also
working on a measure to upgrade the state retirement system
to boost its stability. A House bill would boost worker and
employer contributions to help pay for a 1 percent cost-of-living
increase for retirees. A Senate version instead would require
retirees who return to state employment would have to resume
pension payments. Both measures would make it less attractive
to participate in TERI, a retirement plan that allows workers
to retire and return to work at full salary, while banking
their retirement checks.
Domestic violence. Senators hope to move forward with
a measure to toughen penalties for domestic violence. The
House passed a bill recently after fallout over comments involving
Rep. John Graham Altman, R-Charleston.
WORLD: More on filibusters
TRACK: Right on Sanford's strategy, Santee Cooper
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Santee Cooper. Lawmakers say there's a lot of support
for a measure that's on the governor's desk to rein in directors
at the state's public utility. They think they'll override
an expected gubernatorial veto.
Anti-stalking bill. A bill dubbed "Mary Lynn's
Law" would make it easier for stalking victims to know
when stalkers are let out of jail. The measure, which this
week got a key second reading on the Senate floor, may move
before the session ends.
Jobs Creation Act. A bill being pushed by House Speaker
David Wilkins made it through a critical Senate vote this
week, which sets up the possibility for a conference committee
to work out differences in the coming week, if needed. The
proposal would provide tax breaks to small businesses that
Other measures. It's unclear whether a charter school
reform bill and a measure that would allow local governments
to regulate or ban casino boats will make it through the General
Assembly in the final six days of the session.
It is clear, however, that lawmakers will take up some restructuring
efforts next year - - a key component of Gov. Mark Sanford's
reform agenda - - as an election year looms for the House
and state office-holders. More than likely, the Senate will
also take major steps next year to deal with property tax
rates in many counties across the state.
Another kind of animal at the Statehouse
This young hawk -- perhaps a red-tailed hawk or a red-shouldered
hawk -- was flapping its wings around the Statehouse on Thursday
and caught on film by Budget and Control Board photographer
It's much better to see this kind of creature than the pigs
brought to the Legislature last year by the governor. Wonder
if we'll see more farm animals in the coming week as the Legislature
takes up gubernatorial vetoes.
look at filibustering
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
LEARN MORE DAILY
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Here's some recent feedback to Statehouse Report:
doesn't care for Average Joes, Sandy Gibson, Lexington,
with what passes as a Republican, Janet Upshaw,
on Sanford is liberal hogwash, Lew Richards, Manning,
Shavone Gadsden, sophomore, Columbia College
on Neanderthal column,
Natalie Mann, Bluffton, SC
on Santee Cooper, governor's strategy
This section tracks past forecasts by Statehouse Report with
other media reports:
In Statehouse Report:
may be using legislature as tool:
"A high-ranking Republican
senator is just one of several who say the poll-popular
Sanford seems to be trying to build a case that he is
being thwarted from what he wants to do by an obstructionist
General Assembly - - even though it is controlled by
In other outlets:
5/18/05, The State: Election
2006: Sanford vs. Legislature: "With 163
budget vetoes Tuesday, Gov. Mark Sanford began to lay
the groundwork for his re-election next year
a campaign that could pit him as much against fellow
Republicans who control the General Assembly as any
Democrat who challenges him."
service has one master, not two: "While
all of this has been going on, some members of the Santee
Cooper board (i.e., Gov. Sanford's appointees) have become
increasingly activist in nature. Charges are flying that
board members are micromanaging on everything from corporate
contributions and power contracts to working intimately
on a privatization study."
The Post and Courier: First
Lady's involvement questioned: "'It's worse
than we expected," [State Sen. Luke] Rankin said
Thursday. "I had seen a few e-mails and heard rumblings
of some of these issues, but I didn't realize there were
so many documents that call into question so many things.".
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
S.C. House. Hats off to the House for passing a tougher
seat belt bill that will end up saving lives. Hope House and
Senate members can get to a compromise and get the bill to
the governor soon.
Rail safety. Kudos to US Transportation Secretary
Norman Mineta for unveiling a new federal rail safety plan
in South Carolina, which saw nine people killed in January
in a terrible accident in Graniteville.
Mark, Jenny Sanford. The governor is in hot water
over hotrod Santee Cooper appointments and dissing the Legislature
with 163 vetoes. The First Lady is in hot water over her involvement
with a Santee Cooper study.
Santee Cooper board. Hotrod board members are a case
study in how NOT to be a member of a public board.
Sales tax collections. A new study shows South Carolina's
collections are below the national average, which indicates
we're not getting out of the slump as quickly as everyone
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