Sunday, April 2, 2006
us for a ride
SC Statehouse Report
2 , 2006 - - Judgment is a funny thing. You know it when you
see it and you know it when you don't. But trying to teach
somebody to have it is like teaching a fish to ride a bike.
Lately, bad judgment seems to have been making more appearances
in our public officials.
First up to bat is our lieutenant governor, Andre Bauer.
Yes, he-of-the-hot-head and lead-foot seems to have created
a Republican primary race that he probably had locked up two
weeks ago. You've got to question the judgment of the volcanic
Bauer for recent run-ins with the law over driving at speeds
up to 101 mph in one case. Or you can question him leaving
the impression he was a high-level law enforcement officer,
instead of a part-time top state official with few real powers.
Next at bat are state Sens. Jake Knotts, R-Lexington, and
Darrell Jackson, D-Richland, who each told The State newspaper
the lieutenant governor should have security protection and
a driver - because he would become governor if something bad
happened to the governor.
While we understand this logic, it also sounds more like
something else - - the official state Senate plan for "Operation
Babysit Andre" to keep him from embarrassing South Carolina
Third to the plate are members of the S.C. House, who are
pushing a dangerous measure that could have a disastrous impact
on the abilities of local communities to do land-use planning.
(Prior to the Andre Incident, this was the subject for today's
At issue is the concept of "regulatory takings,"
the much-debated, polarizing topic that has the state's environmental
community in a dither.
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A proposal by Rep. Tracy Edge, R-Horry, would require local
governments to compensate private landowners if a new regulation
lessened the value of their property. The measure is part
of a larger bill, which passed 105-8 in mid-March, that seeks
to overhaul the way government condemns property through its
eminent domain power.
Many lawmakers want more control of eminent domain power
in South Carolina since a controversial U.S. Supreme Court
decision last year that said local governments could seize
private property and give it to another private entity if
the seizure and associated economic development gain benefited
The decision on that Connecticut case sent property rights
advocates into orbit because they thought government was conspiring
to take their land.
But lawmakers and legal experts who know South Carolina law
say the high court ruling is pretty much moot here. Why? Because
South Carolina jurists have done a good job in limiting eminent
domain powers for cases of seizures for public use, not broader
seizures that result in a public benefit, said SC Sen. Chip
Campsen, a Charleston Republican who has been studying the
Campsen said the House legislation likely won't go anywhere
this year because the takings provision clutters the larger
eminent domain issue. He said property rights advocates seemed
to be using the national uproar on the eminent domain case
to piggyback a takings compensation measure onto.
"My fear is it causes the whole train to be derailed,"
Campsen said he hoped the General Assembly would approve
his Senate-passed constitutional amendment which essentially
would codify existing case law to ensure future judges would
continue to limit eminent domain powers to public use and
not expand them to public benefit.
But the conservation community remains worried about the
House takings provision. If approved, it would cripple local
communities' ability to plan and zone, said Billy Want, a
noted environmental law professor who teaches at the Charleston
School of Law.
"In the name of protecting property values, this bill
would do just the opposite," he said.
While some people see zoning as a way to keep people from
doing what they want with their land when in reality, a broader
view is it allows elected officials to channel growth to protect
a larger amount of land for the whole community.
But the House proposal would put private interests ahead
of community interests, Want said.
"It would prevent counties and municipalities from undertaking
zoning that protects residents from inconsistent uses, like
gravel pits or industrial facilities, being located adjacent
Let's hope lawmakers exercise better judgment throughout
the rest of the session, particularly when it comes to land
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
a connection, Butch
Robbins, Hilton Head Island, SC
- 2/24: Block the
sale of national forest land, Elizabeth Bailey, Darlington
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political news items from the past week:
Champions: The University of South Carolina won the
National Invitation Tournament championship over the University
of Michigan on Thursday night with a performance that mirrored
its expertise and enthusiasm in the tournament.
Rotation: A Senate education subcommittee offended
virtually no one when it agreed this past week to recommend
that high school football championships be rotated among USC,
when they are played now each year; Clemson and SC State,
in order to give diversity in geography to the games.
Speeder: Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer has a string of speeding
and other driving faux pas, some ticketed and some not, but
the latest at 101 mph in February is almost inexcusable for
a statewide leader who ought to be setting good, not bad,
Governor's office: Its role in not providing Bauer
with a security person and driver, when the extra employee
had been appropriated (but not announced publicly as such
until this past week), makes the office seem downright childish.
And its excuses put it in the infancy stage.
Pass-through: An appropriation that is approved by
Senate, House and governor, but its use is not explained in
public writing by anyone. That is apparently the case of the
$65,000 assigned for a security guard for the lieutenant governor,
who is next in line for the governorship in case something
should happen to the governor. If there's a line item that
begs explanation and doesn't get it, it ought not to be in
the appropriations bill, even if that happens a lot.
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