Sunday, Dec. 31, 2006
This year-end edition features our annual Cartoon
in Review issue of drawings by the talented Bill McLemore,
a retired Episcopal priest who lives in LaGrange, Ga. Enjoy
the best of McLemore 2006.
What real reform might look like in South Carolina
SC Statehouse Report
31, 2006 - - Because South Carolina generally ranks high in
things it shouldn't and low in things that should be higher,
the start of a new legislative session brings hope.
But somehow, it also brings apprehension - - the sense that
in the larger scheme of things, lawmakers won't do much more
than a South Carolina version of rearranging chairs on the
deck of the Titanic. So for all of the talk about change in
30-second political ads and stump speeches, here's a look
at a real reform agenda that could make a big difference in
the lives of most people in South Carolina if politicians
were courageous enough to embrace it:
Energy policy. State Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley,
this week said the state didn't really have an energy policy.
But it needs one. Because electricity is relatively inexpensive
in the state compared to the rest of the country, South Carolina
uses 55 percent more power than the national average. If the
state had a real energy policy based on conservation, it wouldn't
have to build more expensive power plants that spew pollution
into the air.
Health care. Hundreds of thousands of South Carolinians
are without adequate health care protection, but no bills
pre-filed in the General Assembly deal with this need. Most
people will tell you that good health care is one of their
top issues. If South Carolina wants to make a dent in providing
better health care, it should raise its lowest-in-the-nation
cigarette tax and use the revenues to offset health costs
(not as an income tax giveaway, as suggested by Gov. Mark
Economics. It's good the state seems to be reinvesting
in its Commerce Department after it was gutted a couple of
years back. And it's encouraging that House Speaker Bobby
Harrell is calling for an investment in hydrogen research,
which could bring more jobs here. But if lawmakers want to
do something real now, they would immediately raise the minimum
wage by at least $1 an hour - - something that would help
more working people quicker than any other measure.
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:
Tax structure. A new report says South Carolina businesses
and residents will get $1.7 billion in tax cuts. But as John
Rainey, chairman of the state Board of Economic Advisers told
a newspaper, "We're nickel and diming ourselves to death
when we don't have an overall plan. Why would there be tax
relief on an arthritis drug and not on a cholesterol drug?
Why would there be tax relief on either one of them?"
State lawmakers need to take a serious look at reshaping the
state's tax structure to bring it into the 21st century and
be fairer to most people.
Restructuring. There are a slew of proposals to restructure
government - from changing constitutional offices to elected
ones and reshaping the Budget and Control Board. But when
push comes to shove, these proposals don't seem to fall into
an overall plan that addresses the structure of South Carolina
government. Rather than rushing to do a few things, it might
be better to form a state Restructuring Commission to develop
a bipartisan plan with recommendations that will look at the
forest of state government, not just the trees.
Participation. As outlined a few weeks back, the state
can promote more democracy by making changes in the way it
allows people to participate at the polls. Instead of voting
on the second Tuesday of November, politicians ought to consider
various options, such as Oregon's voting by mail or plans
that allow people to vote over several days or on Saturdays.
By improving participation, the state's representative democracy
will become stronger.
Education. The recent election of Jim Rex as state
superintendent of education seemed to show that school vouchers
weren't a winning idea. Perhaps the best thing to get South
Carolina education out of the cellar is to not do anything
for awhile and give existing ideas a chance to mature. In
other words, instead of making more untested or unproven changes,
maybe it's time to let our educational stew simmer awhile
before adding in more ingredients.
Send your comments to Andy Brack at firstname.lastname@example.org.
His book of commentary, Bugging
the Palmettos, is available for
here for more.
Year in Review
In 2006, a book of cartoons by Bill
McLemore was published to help raise money for a Georgia charity.
For just $20, you can get "A Gift of Laughter" and
Village at the same time. To order, call 770 840
1003 or email to email@example.com.
Here's a sample of the best of 2006 by McLemore:
2006 (a new cartoon)
Voting changes needed
To the editor:
Since moving to SC 5 years ago, the first year we voted stood
in line, etc. They did not have everything on the machine
for our district, and we were told to go to another district
for the rest of the ballot. We thought that was highly irregular.
Since then we have gotten our absentee ballot, so we could
study the issues and the people we are voting for. I like
your comments on Oregon and I feel that SC should give it
-- Anne Demuth, Charleston, S.C.
breath on legislative season
To the editor:
I am one of those who would characterize the annual convening
of the S.C. General Assembly as the "silly season."
It would be nice if I were able to approach the legislative
season with a sense of optimism that legislation to solve
the state's most pressing problems would be put forward and
adopted, but I can never seem to do so. When the gavel falls
to open the session, I figuratively hold my breath and silently
hope that sine die adjournment will come before the legislators
further emasculate home rule, adopt short-sighted but politically
self-serving tax cuts, defund public education through vouchers,
destroy orderly growth, planning, and zoning through regulatory
takings legislation, etc., ad nauseum.
The General Assembly is populated by so many ideologues whose
contempt for government for government per se limits their
perspective and the public policy options they will entertain,
except where they can use government to serve the special,
and narrow, interests they serve--interests adverse to the
common good. People who philosophically disdain government,
as so many in the General Assembly do, cannot possibly be
expected to render policy solutions that exhibit any confidence
in the ability of government to solve problems.
-- Chip Brown, Conway, S.C.
to work on education reform
To the editor:
I just read your article "Silly season upon us"
and have concluded that the politicians simply have the wrong
idea about education reform. We should do something meaningful,
such as eliminating make-up snow days. Below are writings
of mine that expand upon this idea.
Basically, transition from a calendar based education system
to a content based education system (and then build the calendar
My goal is to find a politician that will act on my ideas
and have them legislated.
-- Jim Kappler, Anderson, SC
cheap drinks bill again
To the editor:
Probably ought to read the bill again. That's not at all
what it does.
-- Speaker Pro Tem Doug Smith, R-Spartanburg
NOTE: Rep. Smith is referring to a part
of last week's commentary that highlighted newly-proposed
3176. We correctly summarized the proposal would limit
offers of discount drinks in bars and but erred in saying
it would permit happy hours only one day a week. Click the
link and read for yourself.
- 12/13: Cell
phones making her livid, Brenda Sweat, North
- 12/11: Thoughtful
piece on voting by mail, Jay Ragley, Columbia, S.C.
- 12/11: Other
voting ideas, Earl Capps, Summerville
- 12/10: Thoughless
column on voting, Ken Fanning, Florence, S.C.
- 11/19: Dems
shouldn't forget South, Ferrel Guillory, Chapel Hill,
- 11/19: Confusing
issues of the ballot, Bob Logan, Little River, S.C.
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
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
- 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: firstname.lastname@example.org
Have an event for the SC Statehouse Report calendar?
E-mail details to: email@example.com
or fax to above number.