Sunday, June 17, 2007
Legislative accomplishments are thin this year
JUNE 17, 2007 - - Just about any way you look at the 2007
session of the General Assembly, not much got done.
Other than fending off vetoes from the governor, state legislators
essentially spent a lot of time squabbling with each other.
From the perspective of whether lawmakers did anything to
confront the state's pressing issues of vastly improving education,
confronting skyrocketing health costs or creating new jobs,
they didn't do much.
Or when you look at the bills that actually became law, there's
nothing really earth-shattering there either.
Instead of working on the really important issues, lawmakers
frittered away five months in Columbia with reforms to workers'
compensation, coastal home insurance and the Department of
These so-called reforms really aren't massive changes in
the larger context of whether our children will get better
education, seniors will get better health care or the working
class will get better jobs. On workers' comp, businesses probably
will pay slightly less in insurance costs. On the coast, home
insurance will be available for some that was taken away.
And at DOT, the agency's director may be selected a new way
and there may be loads of more money that go to it.
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:
Yes, state lawmakers get a lot of credit for spending an
extra $1.3 billion or $1.4 billion, but as we've written before,
the state's needs were unmet for the past few years. This
money essentially is fixing things back to how they were before
for many agencies.
About the biggest thing to come out of this legislature is
the growing fracture between the House and Senate. In years
past, there has been healthy rivalry between the two bodies
as the House quickly passed boatloads of legislation, much
of which stalled in the Senate to ensure it made sense.
This year, House and Senate leaders openly confronted each
other in a game of chicken that found the legislature ending
the main session without finishing the budget, workers' comp
or DOT reform. They'll be back next week to iron out the differences
- if they can.
Another change this year was less of a confrontational presence
from Gov. Mark Sanford. While he poked his executive finger
at lawmakers by vetoing more than 20 measures that they promptly
overturned, Sanford seemed more strategic in his interactions.
Perhaps he was relishing that confrontations were between
House members and senators, not them and him.
So with all of that as a backdrop, let's look at the few
things that actually did get accomplished this year:
- Priority Investment Act. The measure requires communities
to start talking more in coordinating regional planning
efforts to avoid pitfalls of unchecked growth.
- Nursing help. The Critical Needs Nursing Act, which
was vetoed and overturned, calls for more nursing faculty,
scholarships and investment to ensure the state has more
nurses in the future.
- Boats, RVs. A new law would allow qualifying boats
and recreational vehicles to be treated as second homes,
which means lower property taxes.
- Buses. Another overturned veto allows the state
to replace school buses at least every 15 years - - a measure
that should improve student safety.
- Gangs. Lawmakers approved a new law to make it
easier for law enforcement in differing jurisdictions to
work together to clean up criminal gangs.
- Coastal insurance. The state rewrote coastal insurance
laws to help homeowners after companies, fearing a Katrina-like
future storm, bagged some insurance policies along the coast.
- Virtual schools. Lawmakers said yes to a measure
that allows for virtual school classes. It should provide
more opportunities for advanced and interesting courses
for rural- and home-school students.
As in every session, there were a host of targeted laws meant
to help special interests. For example:
- The state can invest retirement accounts in non-U.S. companies.
- Telecommunications companies can now get a statewide franchise
to offer video services.
- Power companies have new rules on funding how they build
- People with concealed weapons permits can carry handguns
in their cars on their body or nearby.
- Local governments will be able to have local housing trust
Most of the 160-plus laws passed by the General Assembly
won't affect most people. But also keep in mind that most
South Carolinians also won't get new help for better education,
health care and jobs due to what lawmakers failed to do this
You can reach Andy Brack, publisher of
SC Statehouse Report, at email@example.com.
the thought that counts
Another great cartoon by Bill McLemore:
East Edisto would be boon to ACE Basin
To Statehouse Report:
I am the President of a small non-profit organization called
St. Paul's Preservation Society in the Adams Run/Parkers Ferry
Community. Our members all reside in and around the MeadWestvaco
property and the sale of these huge tracts of land has become
one of our largest issues. I am heartened by the letters written
by Mr. Hugh Lane, yourself and a now growing number of highly
respected leaders in our community.
Your sentiments [Commentary,
6/10] regarding the purchase of these vast tracts
of forested, pristine land echo our view on the matter and
we intend to play an active role in the public process which
MeadWestvaco has promised. Our group is having a public meeting
next Thursday, the 21st of June, to discuss how best to approach
these important issues.
The addition of this property would be a boon to all of South
Carolina as an addition to the ACE Basin Project and the Scenic
River System if handled properly. In addition to the vast
wetlands, fields and forests this area also holds an incredible
amount of historic, cultural and archaeological treasures
which could be used as a valuable tool in education. Part
of our mission is to further research of these important sites.
-- Maggie Ridge, president, St. Paul's Preservation
Society, Hollywood, S.C.
Protect large tracts
To Statehouse Report:
I just wanted to say that I completely support your views
6/10] on the 70,000 acres in East Edisto which you
mentioned in your article. I'm actually from the Northeast
and happened upon your article searching for something on
Google news. As an avid environmentalist, I wish you the best
of luck with this development. ... Anyway, such a large piece
of unprotected land struck me and I thought I should at least
email you to say I'm completely in support.
-- Benjamin Lennon, Short Hills, N.J.
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. There's
a new limited paid version for individuals that costs about
$30 per month. More on subscribing.
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 news
-- an early peek on something really big that will happen
at the Statehouse. 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
- Palmetto Politics
-- Tidbits from the world of South Carolina politics.
- 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
- 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
| Assistant Editor: Betsy
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.