Sunday, June 5, 2005
was less than might appear
SC Statehouse Report
5 , 2005 - - To hear state lawmakers talk about the past legislative
session, you'd think they'd shrunk two suit sizes each because
things were so busy this year. You might even feel a little
guilty that they were just "plum wore out."
But after asking several to list accomplishments and getting
blank stares or very pregnant pauses, it's pretty clear two
things are true about the last five months of legislating
Busy? Yes. A lackluster session? Definitely.
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of the bills that became law. To learn more about subscribing,
That's not to say lawmakers didn't make a few great strides.
They passed a budget that fully funded education for the first
time in years and they kept up with rising costs of Medicaid.
They passed tort reform measures that will have a big impact
on the process of civil justice, even though new studies show
reforms probably won't lower insurance costs for health care.
They also passed laws making it possible for folks in bars
to drink liquor poured from big bottles, to toughen penalties
for domestic violence and to overhaul the state retirement
Overall, they passed more than 100 bills. But while the state's
elected representatives appeared mostly to stay busy, much
of what they did was targeted to special interests. More than
anything, they seemed to govern around the edges to keep things
much the same for most people.
They didn't, for example, do a lot to help tens of thousands
of South Carolinians get out of poverty. They didn't do a
lot to improve poorly maintained state roads. They didn't
make school facilities in rural areas much better. And they
didn't revamp the state's tax system to make it fairer to
If you take a look at the bigger picture of what happened
during this year's General Assembly, here's what emerges:
Blending of parties. There seemed to be much less
rancor between the Republicans and Democrats, other than on
a controversial school voucher bill. The House budget, for
example, got unanimous support in coming out of the House
Ways and Means Committee - - the first time that has happened
in recent memory.
One senior House Republican observed conservative Democrats
seemed to join more in votes with Republicans, in part perhaps,
because of a subtle shift in dynamics as Democrats concentrated
efforts on winning key votes instead of always being opposed.
WORLD: Not a couch potato
On doctor law and Campsen
TRACK: Right on Harrell, Santee Cooper
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Ineffective governor. Senate Minority Leader John
Land relished with vigor that Gov. Mark Sanford has been "totally
irrelevant" in the governing process. After three sessions,
Sanford can't take credit for the passage of any major piece
of his agenda.
"His thinking is so far out of the box that he's not
even part of the General Assembly - - and that's the only
place that can effect his priorities," Land said.
Sanford's ineffectiveness wasn't roundly endorsed by the
Republicans we spoke with, but they didn't dismiss it. Most
nudged and winked as if they were Monty Python characters
when characterizing Sanford's record.
"I think he brought a lot of issues to the forefront,"
Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Bluffton, seriously observed. "He
hasn't hit the goal line yet, but he's working toward it."
Budget sensitivity. Perhaps the biggest accomplishment
for Sanford has been the renewed legislative sensitivity toward
the budget process. Known far and wide as a fiscal conservative
- - the kind of fellow who writes on the back of sticky notes
- - Sanford's zeal in cutting spending seems to have forced
state lawmakers to look harder at what they do with state
Freshman Sen. Chip Campsen, a Charleston Republican who served
on Sanford's staff prior to last year's election, said the
governor's budget work has caused lawmakers to be more fiscally
accountable. Sanford, he noted, is the first governor to really
roll up his sleeves and delve into the budget process with
"Any governor coming after Sanford is going to have
to spend the time with the budget or look like he's not doing
6/5: Not a couch
Another great cartoon by Bill McLemore:
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6/1: Bill on doctors is bad legislation
To the editor:
I speak as an individual, representing nobody but myself,
but I believe I have the appropriate standing in the general
and medical communities in South Carolina to speak out.
Nobody is more concerned about bad doctors than other doctors
and in particular none of us want to protect bad doctors or
caudle them. BUT we are concerned about our own reputations
Complaints from the public against doctors or anybody are
common about all kinds of things. Some are justified, some
are not; some are accurate and some are not. Some are motivated
by greed, revenge, misunderstanding and some are straight
up. Some have to do with malpractice, some with personality
issues, some with sexual harassment, some because the complainant
is just plain angry or unhappy with the medical result. Some
because the complainant didn't like someone in the office.
Some even because the complainant hopes to get out of paying
the bill. Proper investigation takes time and usually discerns
the complaint that has merit from the one that does not.
To publicly announce all complaints against doctors and give
them only ten days to respond is just not fair and ridiculous.
If this is fair then lets do it for lawyers, accountants and
butchers, too. Think of all the damage that the publicity
could do and WOULD DO to the innocent doc who somebody just
didn't happen to like. Is that what we want?
Isn't it curious that the trial attorneys, now that we have
some malpractice caps in place, suddenly say we must immediately
publicize all complaints against doctors? Shucks, I say lets
do the same for attorneys. BUT if we REALLY want to uncover
bad doctors, lets do it right, and expose them when and after
they have had due process and their rights as Americans protected
with a proper investigation.
Of course I understand how some doctors' actions have recently
stirred things up. But stop a moment and think. If we want
to protect ourselves from the doctors in the news, do we also
want to "out" our own family doctor because one
of our neighbors thought he charged $35.00 too much or because
one our other neighbors thought his nurse was rude?? OF COURSE
So lets take a deep breath and veto this bill, H3108. There
must be a way to do better what we all want without throwing
the whole medical profession into chaos and panic and further
fear of their patients. We can work changes into the Medical
Practice Act which is also under review, for example. The
complaining personality, and I know we all know some of these
folks, cannot be given such leverage over our health care
Let's come back next year with a better bill.
-- Stephen A Imbeau, MD, Florence, S.C.
6/3: Campsen deserts the governor
To the editor:
Look at how often Chip voted to over ride the Governors
vetoes. Do you see a pattern of disloyalty?
I advised Mark that it would be unwise to publicly support
Chip in the primary. I thought that Chip was just a religious
zealot version of Bobby Harrell. I did not think that Chip
was committed to limited government; instead I believed that
he would use his position to try to create a theocracy and
to subsidize the business interests of his friends. Mark disagreed
and could not admit that the special legislation that he drafted
while in Congress was exactly the kind of legislation that
he has consistently opposed.
The Conservation Land Bank and other "economic development"
legislation that Chip supported has only served to drain revenues
from the state without benefiting the taxpayers. And the "cultural
war" legislation supported by Campsen has been divisive
within the party.
Ironically, John Kuhn was probably closer in political philosophy
to Mark than almost anyone currently in the Legislature. He
just did not know better than to mess with Jenny.
After reading your articles on the Palmetto Bowl, Ft. Sumter,
and Heritage Community Services, I thought you two had realized
that Harrell and Mark were headed for a showdown. I thought
you also realized that Mark needed some allies, but that he
would not get one in Chip Campsen.
Just rememberMark is a lot more like Lindsey than he
is like Chip. He may not always be politically savvy in the
back room good ole boy way of Bobby Harrell and
David Wilkins. But, he does have a vision for the State and
he is ... principled. I cant say the same for Chip.
In the long run, Mark will be vindicated and, I think-re-elected.
The public can see through the nonsense of the Legislature
which refused to make any hard decisions and just decided
to give everything to everyoneespecially the everyones
-- Rose Condon, Charleston, S.C.
Here's some recent feedback to Statehouse Report:
is wrong for SC, Sandy Gibson, Lexington, SC
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 Harrell, Santee Cooper board duties
This section tracks past forecasts by Statehouse Report with
other media reports:
In Statehouse Report:
House speaker to be elected:
"Here's our predicted
winner: Ways & Means Chairman
In various papers:
6/3/05: Harrell wins speaker's race
In Statehouse Report:
service has one master not two:
"But board service also
carries a 'duty of loyalty,'which means members must
serve the interests of the organization over interests
of anyone else, such as a governor."
In The Post and Courier:
Cooper board: Dis it overstep its bounds? "
The duty of loyalty means directors must always be sure
to work on behalf of the organization's shareholders,
not its executives or some other entity."
In Statehouse Report:
could be vastly different next year:
"After 11 years of stability
under Wilkins forceful leadership, next years
House could easily become a more raucous place."
In The State:
shoes will be tough to fill: "Regardless
of who wins, the victor will have problems with right-wing
Republicans who are likely to try to test the new speaker
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
Harrell. The Lowcountry got even more clout with the
election of Rep. Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, to be new House
Drinkers. Starting Jan. 1, barflies will be able to
get drinks from big bottles.
Wachovia. Thumbs up for Wachovia having the gumption
to apologize for ancestor banks being involved with slavery.
Sanford. The governor doesn't have much to crow about
... again ... with the end of the legislative session. Even
Post and Courier noticed it.
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Tally Sheet -- a weekly review of all of the new
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Scorecard -- A Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down of major
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