Sunday, Feb. 19, 2006
Big Dumb Idea:
Selling national forest land
SC Statehouse Report
19, 2006 - - Almost five years ago, some people thought it
was crazy for us to suggest that faltering in the protection
of Alaska's Arctic National Wildlife Refuge could someday
have consequences for South Carolina.
From a 2001 commentary:
"Tampering with the Arctic National
Wildlife Refuge puts other protected areas at risk. If it's
OK, for example, to make an exception for the oil in Alaska,
is it too far of a stretch to consider whether northern
growth pressures in Mount Pleasant will cause developers
to try to get the government to sell part of the Cape Romain
National Wildlife Refuge in Awendaw for new home sites?
"Then if it's OK to sell off part
of Cape Romain, doesn't it become justifiable to slice a
chunk of the (then) Congaree National Monument in Richland
County to allow a new technology park in a flood plain to
be built to provide new jobs?"
Today, the answer, it seems, may be "yes" - - and
possibly sometime sooner than we think. That is, of course,
if the latest dumb proposal by the Bush Administration gets
Let's hope state lawmakers and citizens across this state
and the country shoot it down like a [insert appropriate
Earlier this month, the Administration announced plans to
sell 306,000 acres of national forest land, including 4,659
acres in South Carolina. The reasoning? The land isn't used
much and doesn't have much value.
Hogwash. That's political rationalization. If this land doesn't
have much value, why are these blockheads salivating about
the $800 million that would be generated from the land sales?
A Walhalla real estate agent told the Associated Press the
land targeted for sale in the Upstate would "sell overnight,"
which would increase development in scenic areas and threaten
other protected areas down the road.
To get support for this short-sighted proposal, the Administration
says it wants to use the money to pay for rural schools and
roads. In South Carolina - - after years of politicians and
conservationists trying to add to the amount of protected
land - - decreasing the amount of land might raise (at best)
around $12 million, based on an extrapolation of numbers offered
by the Administration.
encourage your feedback. If you'd like to respond to
something in SC Statehouse Report, please
send us an e-mail. We reserve the right to edit for
length and clarity. One submission allowed per month.
Submission of a comment grants permission to us to reprint.
Please keep your comment to 250 words or less:
"The U.S. Forest Service was founded to establish forest
reserves from timber-covered public domain land in an effort
to retain forest land for future generations - - now it is
disposable?" asks Angela Viney, president and CEO of
the SC Wildlife Federation. "The $800 million expected
revenue from the sales would only extend the payments under
the Secure Rural Schools and Community Self-Determination
Act of 2000 for an additional five years. The national forest
lands will be gone forever."
Selling off the country's - - and the state's - - natural
heritage is not only bad for wildlife and wild places, but
it fundamentally violates the national trust. When the government
set aside acreage for protection, it set aside the land for
everyone, not as a slush fund for an Administration looking
for more money.
South Carolina's conservation and political leaders should
be outraged by this plundering of part of America's legacy.
They should speak out loudly to members of the federal delegation
to protest these plans. And they need to do it quickly to
nip this bad idea in the bud.
State lawmakers also might want to consider approving a measure
that would limit any land sales in South Carolina if the Administration's
plan goes forward. They should consider passing a measure
that would not allow sales of national forest lands in the
private sector until state governments and non-profit conservation
organizations had been given the "right of first refusal"
to purchase and protect the targeted lands.
State Sen. Phil Leventis, D-Sumter, recalls something he
learned from the late Alex Harvin, the long-time Clarendon
County state representative who died last year.
"He taught me that you can't unpave a road," he
said. "If we start selling national park land, you can't
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
best way to get South Carolina news is to augment your morning
paper and TV show with SC Clips, a daily executive
news summary compiled from more than 30 state newspaper and
TV sources. It's delivered every business day and is packed
with news of statewide impact, politics, business and more.
Subscriptions are affordable at $30 per month -- and less
for business subscribers. More: SC
If change property tax, you'll lose federal deduction
To the editor:
Thank you for the fine piece regarding property tax reform.
2/12] There is another fact that can be added to your
argument and that is the deductibility of property taxes for
federal income purposes, making the after-tax burden less
than had the tax not been deductible. In general, sales taxes
are only deductible to the extent they exceed state income
taxes, and then, only the amount exceeding income tax is deductible.
For the state to swap a currently deductible tax (property)
for a non-deductible one (sales) is not too smart.
-- David Pardue, Hilton Head Island, SC
2/13: Lawmakers need to make tough choices
To the editor:
We try to elect people smarter than we are to make decisions
and vote the best way for everyone as far as passing new laws.
It seems that everytime there is something a little bit tough
they want to throw it on a ballot and let us make the decision.
They must be afraid to take any heat for anything.
The second thing is property taxes. Everyone I know here on
Hilton Head and I've been here 20 years has had their appraised
value go up double and triple. Their taxes have increased
by about fifty per cent on average. State law forbids more
than a one percent windfall tax collection due to reappraisal
(minus new construction) unless unless additional taxes for
increased or expanded or new services are itemized on a tax
notice for the citizen as a truth in taxation measure. I believe
that Beaufort County is in violation and I thought that the
tax commission monitors this and compares it to prior years
to assure the law is followed. I guess not.
-- Larry Saylor, Hilton Head Island, SC
2/13: Reduce government
To the editor:
I note in your column regarding the property tax debate [Commentary,
2/12] that you offer a wide range of options to raise
revenue other than raising sales tax:
"There's more than one way to reduce
property taxes - - raising the our nationally-lowest cigarette
tax or boosting our fourth-lowest gas tax or removing the
billion dollars of sales tax exemptions or broadening the
revenue base by taxing services."
What about REDUCING the size of government? How about getting
government out of our bedrooms, kitchens, living rooms, etc.
How about getting government OUT of our homes all together
and allowing us to OWN them? While we're at it, why don't
we take government out of our cars, too, so we can OWN them?
How about privatizing those things that can be privatized
(EDUCATION, road maintenance, water and sewer, etc.) and cutting
those government expenditures? How about firing some useless
bureaucrats and giving that money back to the taxpayers? Everyone
at the State House is talking about raising revenues; how
about CUTTING expenditures? Then, perhaps, We the People can
actually OWN our homes, instead of paying ransome (sic)
to the State. (By the way, I think at $2.29 per gallon, gas
prices are high enough!)
-- Elizabeth Moultrie, Lexington, SC
Editor's note: Mrs. Moultrie is married
to Timothy Moultrie, a Libertarian candidate for state superintendent
2/12: Listen to experts for a change
To the editor:
2/12] Let's go back to the good ole days of smoke-filled
rooms. Where are you Senator Gressette ? Will the blind lead
the blind ? Remember , you are in SC ! How much did the State
pay to defend itself for underfunding public schools? So why
not cut our own throats again ? Isn't that what some want
Why would industry come here? Unless you give the state away
like they did to get the Boeing job in Charleston. How much
money will the state put out ? They are paying for this give
away with bond money . 25 year bonds at 5 ? % . Calculate
it ! Shame !!
-- Samuel Tenenbaum, Lexington, SC
oppose tuition caps, Kely
Sheldon, President, SC State Student Association, Junior,
a look at ethanol too,
Will McKay, Florence,
at America's energy needs,
Tom Hatfield, Hilton Head
Alexander D. Kline, P.E.,
- 1/30: Boost
cigarette tax or else, Mr. and Mrs. A.C. Haff, Hilton
Head Island, SC
- 1/30: Toll
is a use tax, Buck Pridgen, North Augusta, SC
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political news items from the past week:
Casino boats. It's not clear how the state Supreme
Court will rule on a Georgetown County law that bans casino
boats, which the county is bringing to overturn a lower court
ruling that killed the law. However, Chief Justice Jean Toal
said of Georgetown, "[Y]ou're criminalizing conduct which
is legal statewide." Roll the dice, one more time.
Stille. Former Rep. Harry Stille, who now lives in
Due West, argues with telling effect that the reason for the
property tax reform issue is "the Legislature has caused
at least $820 million in lost revenue states that locals have
had to make up for school and county operations
that means the Legislature is blaming the schools and local
governments for spending money the General Assembly forced
it to spend. Maybe the senators and representatives ought
to pass the collection plate to themselves.
Martin. Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, startled the
Senate this past week by announcing that the federal government
is pushing South Carolina to create more time between first
and runoff primaries. The reasoning is that the usual two-week
delay before the runoff may not allow time for, say, military
personnel to vote absentee from Iraq. That is reasonable,
but the fact that Martin brought the matter to the Senate
on the floor had some heads shaking because he knew and others
didn't. His bill is moving along.
Clemmons. Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach, says
he doesn't smoke and wouldn't take his family to a restaurant
that allows smoking, but also argues that he opposes forcing
restaurants to go smoke-free. "It's an issue of business
owners' rights," Clemmons told the AP, which we suppose
means that if a business owner wants to die of second hand
smoke, the state shouldn't prevent that. And never mind the
How you can subscribe to the full edition
of the report
The above version of S.C. Statehouse Report is the
free edition. Our paid version, which costs about $100 per
month, offer a weekly legislative forecast packed with information
that can keep you and your business on the cutting edge.
Notes veteran lawmaker Sen. Glenn McConnell: "Statehouse
Report gives an inside practical report of weekly problems
with and progress of legislation. It reviews the whole landscape."
In each issue of Statehouse Report, you'll get:
Hot issue --
an early peek at weekly commentary on something really big.
Last year, we continually beat other news organizations in
finding major trends in issues, from teacher and budget cuts
to wetlands proposals.
Agenda -- a weekly forecast of the
coming week's floor agenda
Radar Screen -- a behind-the-scenes
look at what's really going on in the General Assembly
McLemore's World -- an early view
of our respected cartoonist Bill McLemore.
Tally Sheet -- a weekly review of
all of the new bills introduced in the legislature in everyday
Blogroll -- a weekly summary of the
best of South Carolina political blogs.
Scorecard -- A Thumbs Up and Thumbs
Down of major political/policy events for the week.
Calendar -- a weekly list of major
meetings for the House, Senate and state agencies.
Megaphone -- a quote of the week that
you'll find illuminating.
To learn more about subscriptions, contact Andy Brack at:
South Carolina Statehouse Report
Publisher: Andy Brack
Editor: Betsy Brack
Phone: 843.670.3996 · Fax: 843.722.9887
Subscription or sponsorship Inquiries: email@example.com
Have an event for the SC Statehouse Report calendar?
E-mail details to: firstname.lastname@example.org
or fax to above number.