Sunday, Dec. 11, 2005
Just a quick note to let you know how you missed out this
week. If you were a subscriber to the paid edition of Statehouse
Report, you would have received the information below
on Friday AND you would have gotten other special features:
the Radar Screen for political tidbits; the Tally
Sheet that summarizes recently filed legislation; and
our new Blogroll weekly review of various state political
blogs. For more information, contact
us today about our affordable paid subscriptions for businesses
and organizations that need the inside
scoop at the Statehouse.
More than property
tax reform on tap next year
SC Statehouse Report
11, 2005 - - With all of the headlines about property tax
reform being the big issue of the 2006 legislative session,
youd think there wouldnt be much time for anything
else. But youd be wrong, according to seasoned lawmakers.
Every committee will have a couple of things it pushes,
said veteran GOP Rep. Jim Harrison of Columbia. I dont
think the session is going to be so dominated by property
tax reform that the other committees wont be able to
push out some good legislation.
Based on several interviews over the past week, here is a
look at other top issues facing the General Assembly in an
Restructuring. Still on the table from previous sessions
are measures to transform some of the states constitutional
officers (agriculture secretary, secretary of state, state
superintendent of education) into appointed positions. There
also is a bill to consolidate administrative health functions
and create a Department of Administration. Some say the proposals
offer the best chance for Gov. Mark Sanford to achieve his
first major legislative victory in four years.
Charter schools. Also on the table is a proposal to
energize a charter school system. With gubernatorial support
for a voucher program withdrawn recently for the coming election
year, observers say a pro-charter school package is the most
likely change for K-12 education that lawmakers will take
on during the session.
Tuition caps. Sanford and others also have called for
escalating tuition at the states public colleges and
universities to be capped, or indexed, to a national standard
to keep college affordable. Going from an open-market approach
to an indexed cap would return the state to a practice of
a few years back, said Sen. Thomas Alexander, R-Oconee.
We certainly dont want the cost of education to
get out of reach for students and their families, he
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Cigarette tax hike. Now that South Carolina has the
lowest cigarette tax in the nation (7 cents per pack), some
believe there may be increasing pressure to raise the tax
to the national average, which could add millions to the state
coffers and reduce cigarette smuggling from South Carolina
to Northeast states. But others say the state appears to have
rounded the corner economically and may not need the revenue
as much as in recent tight years.
Workers compensation. A key issue for the states
business lobby is to reform workers compensation rules
to lower rates on businesses. While some see it as a key competitiveness
issue, others, such as Senate Minority Leader John Land, D-Clarendon,
say the state currently has the 39th lowest rates in the country
and a system that is pretty good.
Family court. Word around the Statehouse is lawmakers
also will tinker with the states family court system
to streamline the process and help make work of family court
judges more focused. Observers say some administrative functions
might be more wisely assigned to caseworkers to allow judges
to work on bigger cases.
Isolated wetlands. Environmentalists and developers
have butted heads over the last three sessions over ways to
protect so-called isolated wetlands from rampant development.
While theres no major bill addressing wetlands protection
yet, the sides reportedly still are working together to craft
But as longtime Republican Sen. John Courson of Columbia noted,
Anything that is new that is really contentious is going
to be very difficult to be passed.
Freedom of information. Recent stories by media across
the state highlighted how some elected officials bend open
meetings rules a little too easily for executive sessions
and how some law enforcement agencies create barriers to public
records. Look for lawmakers to tweak open government laws
to ensure public information is public.
Medicaid reform. After the legislative session ended
this year, Sanford and state officials offered a way to reform
Medicaid payments by creating privatized accounts for recipients.
Lawmakers balked because they werent consulted. Several
say theyll weigh in on the subject in the coming year.
As you are considering the 2006 legislative session, its
important to keep in mind that it also will be an election
year. Any time folks get on the high horse of politics for
electioneering purposes, just about anything can happen at
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
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Small businesses DO need help
To the editor:
Your article [Commentary,
12/4] came right on time for me. I've come across
an idea to build jobs in the community that I reside in (Clio,
where there are relatively none) right away, and everywhere
I've turned to start the process I'm informed that it takes
120 days in order to do so. Most people in need of employment
like myself and have an idea which can make them money can't
afford to wait a 1/4 of the year in order to earn a living.
They'd be homeless before they can earn a living, so how to
I expedite the process? I agree that there should be any easier
road to travel in order to start a small business. With the
current economic policies in this state and some others, there
should be an easy 1, 2, 3, process for someone to start their
I've recently moved into the area into my family's home they've
had since the mid 50's and see that more people need work
in their areas rather than having to travel hundreds of miles
a day. A person who has little resources can go under in the
process of just trying to start a business. Free enterprises
are being stifled with bureaucracy and greed.
-- Tony Vaz, Clio, S.C.
12/6: Remember sole proprietorships
To the editor:
It's important to remember that the common definition of
Small Business includes sole proprietorships, which helps
explain why there are so many of them. In South Carolina,
at least, that means that almost every real estate agent is
a small business. Many more small businesses have no non-family
Unless the Legislature is careful with the wording, tying
loan eligibility to actual job creation, employment effects
will be slight.
-- Amelia Dias, Charleston, S.C.
Laptops for students make sense
To the editor:
I like Andy Brack and his article supporting laptops for students.
Now here is someone who at least can recognize that we can
use technology to advance the science of learning.
I am all for providing students with laptops. The mechanics
of how that is done can be worked and becomes a logistics
and funding challenge, but the important thing is that we
realize that times have changed and in order to provide our
students with the advantage they need to compete in a global
marketplace calls for a change in the way they get information.
Hence, give them the edge they need to see global implications,
learn anywhere, anytime and use the technology to leverage
Time to change the way we deliver knowledge to students.
Take a bold stand, it is time for a change.
-- Richard Murdach, Tarpon Springs, Fla.
property tax will hurt disabled vets,
Manuel Bettencourt, Hilton Head Island, SC
more to property tax changes, Tom
Hatfield, Hilton Head Island, SC
to do something on illegal immigration,
Bob Logan, Little River, SC
problems are inexcusable, Sue
Womack, Pawley's Island, SC
drilling article mongers fear,
Don Allen, Charleston, SC
will take notice of stats?,
Bill Homewood, Hilton Head Island, SC
article, Charles Sanders, Hilton
Head Island, SC
report on SC, Boyd McLean, Gaffney,
at where we're doing well, John
Rivers, Charleston, SC
math, Samuel Tenenbaum, Lexington,
needs to move away from Civil War,
Gary Rice, Columbia, SC
show state's daunting predicament,
Harriet Smartt, Isle of Palms, SC
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political news items from the past week:
Campbell. Three cheers for Carroll Campbell's service
to the State of South Carolina. While we may not have agreed
with all of his politics, we respected his tenacity and love
for moving the state forward. Rest in peace.
At the top. South Carolina scored tops in being prepared
for health emergencies and ranked high in ensuring that 4-year-old
students are ready to start school. Lesson learned: More investment
is needed in prevention and education.
Sanford. While it's laudable Gov. Mark Sanford wants
to cap college tuition and create a $10 million fund to protect
timberland, for both proposals to come days apart feels more
like electioneering than anything. Seems these proposals could
have been offered earlier.
Eckstrom. Comptroller General Richard Eckstrom got
spanked when fellow Republican Attorney General Henry McMaster
issued an opinion that he overstepped his authority in using
millions in state money to repay an old deficit.
How you can subscribe to the full edition
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Tally Sheet -- a weekly review of
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Blogroll -- a weekly summary of
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Scorecard -- A Thumbs Up and Thumbs
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Megaphone -- a quote of the week
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