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ISSUE 13.34
Aug. 22, 2014

RECENT ISSUES:
8/15 | 8/08 | 8/01 | 7/25

Index

News :
What DHEC is going on?
Photo :
About time for the harvest
Legislative Agenda :
Ahead at the Statehouse
Commentary :
End of Second Reconstruction having consequences
Spotlight :
United Way Association of South Carolina
Feedback :
News story led to deep thoughts, melancholia
Scorecard :
Three up, one down
Megaphone :
Miffed
In our blog :
8/21: Steady improvement?
Tally Sheet :
Research past bills, proposals
Encyclopedia :
Martin Whiteford Marion

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NUMBER OF THE WEEK

0.4

That’s the percentage that the state’s unemployment rate rose in July compared to June. The rate now stands at 5.7 percent, according to state numbers. More.

MEGAPHONE

Miffed

"It's wrong, dishonest and deceitful.  You've got jobs where people are working two or three hours a week, and that's being claimed by Nikki Haley as being a job and moving people off benefits into work, and clearly that's not so."

-- Democratic gubernatorial challenger Vincent Sheheen complaining about how the administration of Gov. Nikki Haley hasn’t moved 20,000 people from welfare to work as claimed in political advertising. Haley’s people backed their claim. More.

IN OUR BLOG

8/21: Steady improvement?

“The country as a whole  did not do all that well on the ACT again. Thirty-one percent of high school graduates did not meet a single college-ready benchmark. and only 26 percent showed themselves to be fully college ready by meeting all four benchmarks.  Meanwhile in South Carolina, 34 percent of  high school graduates who took the ACT did not meet a single  college-ready benchmark and only 23 percent showed themselves ready for college and a modern career.  But  according to the Superintendent of Education, South Carolina is showing ‘steady improvement’ because we did only a little worse than the poorly performing nation as a whole.”

-- Jon Butzon, Summerville, S.C. Read the full post.

MORE POSTS:  govt.statehousereport.com

ENCYCLOPEDIA

Martin Whiteford Marion

Marion was born in Richburg (Chester County) on Dec. 1, 1917, and grew up in the Atlanta, Georgia, area. He is the son of John and Virginia Marion and a descendant of Francis Marion, the "Swamp Fox" of the Revolutionary War. He married Mary Dallas in 1937 and has four daughters. He spent one year at the Georgia Institute of Technology in 1935 and then played briefly for Chattanooga in the Southern League. He then signed a four-year contract with the St. Louis Cardinals that paid $5,000 in its final year; both the size and the length of the contract were unheard of for a minor-league player at the time. He played with Huntington, West Virginia, in 1936 and then for Rochester, New York, in the International League from 1937 to 1939.

Marion made his debut with the Cardinals on April 16, 1940, and was their regular shortstop from 1940 to 1950. He was known as "the Octopus" due to his extremely long arms, and he also went by the nickname "Slats" because he was six feet two inches tall and weighed 170 pounds. He was a seven-time All Star and was voted Most Valuable Player and Player of the Year in 1944. He won four pennants and three World Championships in his ten years with the St. Louis Cardinals. Marion played in 1,572 games, collected 1,448 hits, and was a lifetime .263 hitter with 36 home runs and 624 RBI. Although he did not hit for power or for a high average, he developed a reputation as a clutch hitter. He was also considered the best fielding shortstop of his generation.

A back injury kept Marion from playing in the 1951 season, but he served as manager of the Cardinals that year. He then moved over to the St. Louis Browns and served as their player-manager in 1952 and 1953. Named manager of the Chicago White Sox in the final weeks of the 1954 season, Marion piloted them until the end of the 1956 season. He had a 356-372 record as a manager with three third-place finishes in five full seasons. He purchased the St. Louis Cardinals AAA franchise in Houston in the Texas League in 1960 and ran it for several years. Marion also managed the St. Louis Stadium Club business for many years.

-- Excerpted from the entry by Doug Southard. To read more about this or 2,000 other entries about South Carolina, check out The South Carolina Encyclopedia by USC Press. (Information used by permission.)

PALMETTO PRIORITIES

Palmetto Priorities Statehouse Report encourages state leaders to develop and implement Palmetto Priorities involving several issues to make the state better a better place. Click the link to learn more about our suggestions for bipartisan policy objectives.

Here is a summary of our Palmetto Priorities:

CORRECTIONS: Reduce the prison population by 25 percent by 2020.

EDUCATION: Cut the state's dropout rate in half by 2020.

ELECTIONS: Increase voter registration to 75 percent by 2015.

ENVIRONMENT: Adopt a state energy policy that requires energy producers to generate 20 percent of energy from renewable sources by 2020.

ETHICS: Overhaul state ethics laws.

HEALTH CARE: Ensure affordable and accessible health care.

JOBS: Develop a Cabinet-level post to add, retain 10,000 small business jobs per year.

POLITICS: Have a vigorous two- or multi-party political system of governance.

ROADS: Strengthen all bridges and upgrade state roads by 2015.

SAFETY: Cut the state's violent crime rate by one-third by 2016.

TAX REFORM: Remove outdated special interest sales tax exemptions as part of an overall reform of the state's tax structure to be completed by 2014.

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News

What DHEC is going on?

Staffing, complaints down at agency

By Bill Davis, senior editor

AUG. 22, 2014 -- The only fear might have been fear itself.

Radical changes and outcomes expected when Catherine Templeton took over two years ago as director of the state Department of Health and Environmental Control Direct haven’t come as expected, observers and even critics say.

And while there are some still complaints about overworked staff, bloodletting among the staff appears to have started to staunch itself.

For years, DHEC has been cast as toothless lion -- underpaid, overworked, understaffed. Political and economic forces have regularly robbed the department of its best and its brightest with officials often taking jobs at companies they had been paid state dollars to regulate.       

But these days, the agency -- smaller and more streamlined -- is pressing forward.

Telling numbers

In 2004, there were close to 5,500 total DHEC employees of every stripe and responsibility. That number included positions paid for with federal pass-through dollars. Roughly 1,700 of that total were funded by state General Fund budget dollars, according to state budget documents. That year, the state committed roughly $105 million toward the agency’s total budget that year.

In the current fiscal year, the total staffing has dropped to about 3,600 employees, with 1,150 of those coming from state dollars. This year, the state this year put $100 million toward DHEC’s budget.

Those numbers represent a nearly one-third reduction in state and federal-paid positions, and a small reduction in state-dollar support. By comparison, the state’s gross domestic product in 2004 was $136 billion, and by 2013, the most recent numbers available, it had grown to $184 billion -- a 35 percent increase.

So, in the time the state’s GDP increased by $50 billion, the legislature had reduced DHEC funding by $5 million.

Stopping the bleeding

Templeton, who came into office on a wave of criticism in March 2012, has bright numbers to report, despite dwindling financial support from the state legislature.

Templeton did not respond to repeated requests for comment for this story, deferring to agency spokesman Mark Plowden.

Under Templeton, the agency total employment drop has slowed to close to 1.5 percent, or about 43 jobs, according to Plowden.  Translated, that means the slashing and burning really took place in past years, particularly during the Great Recession.

In the environmental quality control department, the office that processes important environmental permits, there were 1,132 full-time slots when Templeton took over, according to numbers provided by Plowden. That number has been reduced to 1,066; of those only 942 have been filled -- a 17 percent reduction from what was funded two years ago.  

Permit Central

So with less permitting officials on the job, work has slowed, right? Wrong.

One of the streamlining efforts Templeton had implemented was the creation of “Permit Central,” an online web portal where applicants can file and learn how to speed up the process.

According to Plowden, since implementation, “most” permitting times are running 40 percent faster.

“More importantly, legal appeals to those permits have not increased, meaning those permits have integrity,” pointed out Plowden, who added that it all had been accomplished with no additional budget request.

“Increased efficiency while maintaining quality -- that's what should be expected across all of state government.”

Officials’ errors -- not staffing numbers -- caused DHEC’s biggest snafu under Templeton, a botched tuberculosis outbreak response in Greenwood County, according to the agency and observers.

Not so fast or rosy

Meanwhile, insiders warn of an underfunded and under-experienced future for DHEC.

One current DHEC professional, speaking on anonymity, said there are bigger “vision” and “command structure” issues plaguing the agency. For this official, who has several decades of private sector environmental experience prior to working at the agency, it wasn’t so much the number of those who left after Templeton ascended, but what they took with them.

The official argued that senior engineers and scientists “read the writing on the wall” and left. Into their void stepped lawyers and “bean-counters” more loyal to politics than the complicated environmental issues they were charged with safeguarding, and didn’t have the institutional knowledge to carry out the agency’s science-heavy mission.

Few complaints here

Permitting presents a delicate balance. Go too fast with too few officials and the state’s conservation groups will protest safeguards are being ignored. Go too slow, and manufacturing,  industry and developers will complain the state’s slog out of the Great Recession is being slowed.

Apparently, a balance has been struck, as representatives from both sides struggled to point fingers at DHEC.

On the industry side, S.C. Chamber of Commerce president and executive director Otis Rawl said none of his members have come to him and complained about the current pace of permitting.

“The biggest thing I’m hearing is about the need to resolve the ‘certificate of need’ issue,” said Rawl, referring to a change in state law two years ago that has made it difficult for many health care facilities to receive DHEC permitting crucial to their business.

That problem, according to Rawl, isn’t even DHEC’s problem, but one that should be laid at the feet of the legislature, which was unable to provide a solution in this year’s legislative session.

On the green side, representatives from the S.C. Coastal Conservation League said the number and pace of permits being issued wasn’t on its radar.

Brad Wyche, founder and executive director of green watchdog Upstate Forever, as well as the former chairman of the DHEC board from 1999 to2003, said the agency’s biggest problem continues to be a “lack of resources.”

Wyche said DHEC staffers under his watch would routinely be unfairly criticized for the promptness in which they issued permits and the like.

“But, they have got to have the resources in place to do the job they were legally assigned to do: if the state passes a law and have regulations in place, it has to provide the resources to implement and enforce the law,” said Wyche.

Providing permitting pace statistics may actually serve up a red herring, according to Alan Hancock, a Conservation Voters of South Carolina staffer who worked at DHEC until November of last year.

Hancock praised the work Templeton’s administration has done streamlining some of the permitting processes, calling some of what was removed “exercises in paperwork.”

Local government takes some of the work

State Rep. Nelson Hardwick (R-Surfside Beach), chair of the House Ag Committee and former DHEC district EQC director, said some of DHEC’s regulator workload has been reduced at DHEC by localities taking on more and more of regulatory duties.

In his home county of Horry, where he is part of a two-person engineering firm specializing in storm-water drainage, Hardwick said that if a builder wants to erect an 11-house subdivision, he would go to local authorities rather than the state these days.

Like Wyche, Hancock defended the DHEC permitting staffers, saying their jobs would be much easier if Gov. Nikki Haley hadn’t taken such a public “pro-business” position regarding the agency’s mission in the past.

Bill Davis is senior edior of Statehouse Report.  He can be reached at:  billdavis@statehousereport.com.

RECENT NEWS STORIES
Photo

About time for the harvest


Although tobacco no longer dominates the agricultural landscape in the South Carolina’s Pee Dee region, there are still a number of acres of the golden leaf planted, such as this field near the Vox community of rural Florence County. Photo by Linda W. Brown of Kingstree. More.

Legislative Agenda

Ahead at the Statehouse

Two meetings that may be of interest:
  • Expungements. A joint legislative study committee will meet 9 a.m. Aug. 27 in 105 Gressette to look at expungements.

  • School safety. A task force will meet 10 a.m. Aug. 27 in 433 Blatt to introduce task force members, review the charge of the new committee and discuss business. More.

Commentary

End of Second Reconstruction having consequences

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

AUG. 22, 2014 -- After the Civil War came Reconstruction, a few years of federal control of the South until it could be trusted to govern itself. 

During this period in South Carolina (1865-1877), freed slaves were elected to Congress as Republicans and all sorts of new progress broke out until the white elites figured out how to recapture power and to, ultimately, clamp down on former slaves through harsh Jim Crow laws.

Now comes “The New Racism,” a fresh article in The New Republic which focuses on recent leadership and policy changes in Alabama. It posits the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965 helped to lift the vestiges of Jim Crow and segregation so African Americans could share in the freedoms guaranteed under the Constitution.

As a result in Alabama, Mississippi, South Carolina and other Southern states, blacks gained elective office like never before. Slowly, the spoils of power --better roads, schools and health care -- started being shared in poor, underserved communities. Blacks had power at the voting booth. White politicians paid attention to them. Blacks and white moderates changed the South, attracting economic development, progress and even Northern retirees.

But as the Alabama-themed article illustrates how white Republicans calculated that by splitting moderate white Democrats from power through gerrymandering districts and outpoliticking them at the polls, they could marginalize African American legislators, reduce their power and, in the end, retake statehouses and retake control. In turn, they could erode progressive reforms characterized as the “Second Reconstruction” in The New Republic article.

ON WHY FERGUSON ISN'T ORANGEBURG

Historian Jack Bass wrote a book on the Orangeburg Massacre, a 1968 protest at S.C. State University that left three African American men dead and injured 28 others. 

The incident, which predated the highly-publicized shootings at Kent State University in 1970, got comparatively little media attention, unlike the fatal shooting of an unarmed black youth in Ferguson, Mo., by a white police officer that led to international headlines.

 In an interview this week, Bass said he thought the Orangeburg Massacre and events this month in Ferguson, Mo., were similar because they were both out of the ordinary. 

The anomaly in Ferguson (population 21,203; 29 percent, white; 67 percent, black) is that most majority-black towns don’t have mostly-white police forces, he said. And in South Carolina, the massacre was an anomaly because the state generally dealt with desegregation in a non-violent way, he said.

“If you take away Orangeburg, everything else was pretty peaceful.”

But also in both places, some bad judgments were made, Bass added.

“In Ferguson, it was my impression that you had a bad local police force, poorly trained. They had all of that equipment and, I guess, figured they ought to use it,” he said. “In Orangeburg, you had a lot of confusion -- five different law enforcement agencies -- the National Guard, Highway Patrol, sheriff’s office, city police and SLED. All five were operating on different [communication] frequencies.” Also, he noted, some of the training of law enforcement authorities wasn’t considered good because officers in Orangeburg were authorized to shoot if they felt their lives or colleagues’ lives were in danger instead of a protocol of not shooting until authorized by a senior officer.

“You really kind of had a recipe for disaster” in Orangeburg, he said.

-- Andy Brack

The 2010 legislative elections in Alabama decimated white Democratic moderates. Then came legislation that allowed $40 million of public money for private school vouchers. There was an anti-immigration bill, a measure to require voters to show a photo identification to vote, a major anti-abortion bill, looser gun laws, tighter welfare restrictions and rejection of federal money to expand Medicaid to poor people through the Affordable Care Act.

Sound familiar? It should. The same kinds of things have been going on in South Carolina since 1994 when House Republicans made a backroom redistricting deal with black Democrats to make white districts whiter and black districts blacker, often referred to as “bleaching” and “packing,” respectively. The result: the GOP took control and hasn’t looked back since.  After the 2002 election, the GOP took over the S.C. Senate.

“Whether you call it ‘packing’ the black districts or ‘bleaching’ the white districts, we’ve suffered from it for far longer in South Carolina than they have in Alabama,” said House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia.

Past redistricting also has protected black and white incumbents so that there are a lot of faces around today that were around 20 years ago. Blacks actually picked up legislative seats, going from 18 House seats in 1994 to 26 today and seven Senate seats in 1994 to 10 today. 

But all black legislators here, save one, are Democrats, now the minority party. They don’t share power. It’s the same across the South. In 1994, almost all black state legislators -- 99.5 percent, according to research by David Bositis, served in majority parties. Today? Only 4.8 percent are in the majority party.

 “Our political clout is not what it was because we are not in the majority party,” said Rutherford. “And the Republicans have found a way to code things so that they don’t have to use race. They code it in a way back home so that people know what they’re talking about.”

He pointed to the recent law requiring voters to show photo ID because of “voter fraud.” Even though there have been practically no instances of voter fraud, the language of fraud suggested such a law might chill turnout for blacks, the bulk of people impacted by the law, he said. 

If you don’t think the South is at the end of a Second Reconstruction, recall some photos. Compare the 1963 images of the white power structure trying to thwart desegregation -- a police dog attacking a teenager or a fireman spraying peaceful protesters -- to images you see coming out of Ferguson, Mo., just this month. It’s unsettling, to say the least.

Andy Brack is editor and publisher of Statehouse Report.  He can be reached at:  brack@statehousereport.com.

Spotlight

United Way Association of South Carolina

The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Statehouse Report to you at no cost. This week, we shine a spotlight on the United Way Association of South Carolina. It is the common voice of the 29 independent, locally-government United Ways in the Palmetto State that work together to create long-lasting opportunities for everyone to have the good life. The organizations focus on education to help children and youths achieve their potential so they can get a stable job; income to promote financial stability and independence; and improving people’s health. 

Advancing the common good is about helping one person at a time and about changing systems to help all of us.  The associations believes we all win when a child succeeds in school, when families are financially stable, and when people are healthy. The organization’s goal is to create long-lasting changes by addressing the underlying causes of these problems. “Living United” means being a part of the change. It takes everyone in the community working together to create a brighter future. Give. Advocate. Volunteer. LIVE UNITED.

Feedback

News story led to deep thoughts, melancholia

To the editor:

I always read your Statehouse Report with interest, but I was particularly impressed by your discussion on the ambiguous consequences of voter ID.  I've argued all along that it is very difficult to measure -- particularly in the short-run -- the impact of such legislation. 

History doesn't repeat itself, but I think it's instructive that the first efforts at disenfranchising blacks in the late 19th century had a cumulative impact that could only be seen in hindsight.  Cynicism, disillusionment and a sense of helplessness may also be factors. 

I talked with a black friend here in Brevard and his sense was that black voting would go down.  As he said, for (mostly) working-class black voters, it seems a useless expenditure of limited energy when you know that the system here in North Carolina is essentially rigged after the 2012 election. 

The other observation that you made (based on voting patterns) is that the most important part of the puzzle of political change is the continuous shifting of whites in South Carolina to the Republican Party is a fulfillment of the Nixon goal of creating a black Democratic and white Republican Party is coming to pass, at least in much of the deep South.

In any case, thanks for your insights -- however much they lead me toward melancholia.

-- Dan Carter, Columbia, S.C.

Remember what Hollings also said?

To the editor:

Love your work! When [U.S. Sen.] Fritz [Hollings] was being challenged by Bob Inglis, out of frustration he referred to Inglis as a “goddamned skunk!” When asked to apologize, Fritz agreed and said, “I would like to apologize to the entire skunk family!” He was re-elected in a landslide!   

—Ronnie Bruce, Greer, S.C.

Snarky cracks not likely to have effect

To the editor:

Most of the cracks you cited were belittling and rather nasty. However, politics being what they are, nice, polite putdowns are not likely to have any effect.

Your bringing up Australia reminds me of the time when I was American Vice-Consul in Western Australia and monitored Sir Robert Menzies' appearances [the prime minister] in Perth during the 1964 Federal election.  Menzies was a vain, arrogant and pompous bully who squashed anyone who got his dander up.

The first event I attended was a rally held in the square that fronted the main post office, a monumental building whose portico was held up by massive columns. Sir Robert (pictured at right) stationed himself on the top step and began to speak. I managed to infiltrate his entourage, so I stood within ten feet of him. The rally got off to a bad start. The sound system didn't work.

Menzies, perhaps in jest,  remarked that "Labor saboteurs" must have cut the wires. Underlings quickly repaired the damage and Menzies launched into his boilerplate speech. One of the issues in the election was the projected purchase of an untested American fighter plane that Labor claimed was an unnecessary boondoggle. A leather-lunged redheaded  heckler, dressed in working clothes and holding a rolled-up newspaper, yelled over and over, "What about the", and he gave the model number of the fighter. Menzies finally turned and bellowed, "Well, what about it?" The heckler replied, "It isn't even off the drawing boards." Menzies measured him and said, "Well, my friend, it doesn't look like you are off the drawing boards either".

Later that day Sir Robert was scheduled to lay a corner stone at the University of Western Australia. Sir Robert stood poised with trowel and  cement. The cloth was lifted.  Much to everyone's  surprise, a bust of Labor leader Arthur Calwell was revealed. Menzies was unfazed. He slapped a dollop of cement on top of the bust and intoned, "I declare this stone well and truly laid."  I found out years later that Menzies actually respected Calwell. In fact, one could say that they were friends. But politics are politics.

If Menzies had one redeeming quality it was his devotion to the Queen. When she made a royal tour I watched the welcoming ceremony on television. John McEwen, leader of the Country Party, and Calwell carried dignified and respectful greetings from their parties. Then it was Menzies' turn. He became maudlin . He concluded by reciting "Passing by;  mercifully he didn't try to sing it. When he came to the last lines, "I did but see her passing by, but I will love her 'til I die," he was practically in tears. I swear the Queen winced.

Embarrassed she might have been, but the Queen rewarded Menzies by awarding him into the Order of the Thistle. My wife and I saw the induction ceremony in a newsreel. Once again, Menzies almost wept. Someone in the audience yelled, "Cor, it's Robin 'Ood". A few days later, I was listening to parliamentary debates on radio. Menzies was bloviating.  Eddie Ward, a Labor bombthrower, shouted, "Bob, they should have given you an Oscar instead of the Thistle." For once Menzies was flummoxed. Instead of tossing a barb in reply he broke down and laughed.

And speaking of Sen. Hollings, who can forget "Tommy, you full of ....... prunes."

-- John H. Wilde, Greenwood, S.C.

Don't keep your opinions to yourself. We love hearing from our readers and encourage you to share your opinions.  But you've got to provide us with contact information so we can verify your letters. Letters to the editor are published weekly. We reserve the right to edit for length and clarity.We generally publish all comments about South Carolina politics or policy issues, unless they are libelous or unnecessarily inflammatory. One submission is allowed per month. Submission of a comment grants permission to us to reprint. Comments are limited to 250 words or less.  Please include your name and contact information.  Send your letters to:

Scorecard

Three up, one down

Aerospace. Researchers say the state’s budding aerospace industry now employs 54,000 people and has a $17 billion annual impact. More.

Upstate. A new interchange at the intersections of Interstate 85 and 385 will cost $231 million, but should improve traffic at the junction significantly. And maybe people the Upstate will now stop complaining about all of the money spent to build the Cooper River bridge.  (But wait, the griping will rise when they figure out how much is being spent to widen Interstate 26 in the Lowcountry.)  More. 

Series. Hats off to The Post and Courier for doing a big series on the scourge of domestic violence in South Carolina, which has among the highest rates in the country. It properly castigates the legislature for sidestepping the issue. But the news package (five days’ worth of stories) is so slick that you may wonder if the possibility of winning a big prize is also a big motivator. Read the series.

Harrell. House Speaker Bobby Harrell may be breathing a little easier with news that the State Grand Jury is done with allegations of ethical improprieties. But he’s still not likely to get a great night’s sleep because the investigation, now with a state solicitor, is not yet over. A victory, for sure, but incremental. More.

Growth. Budget data show the state’s rate of revenue increases is declining, which has some worrying that growth is slowing, despite a higher-than-expected surplus. More.
credits

Statehouse Report

Editor and Publisher: Andy Brack
Senior Editor: Bill Davis
Contributing Photographer: Michael Kaynard

Phone: 843.670.3996

© 2002 - 2014 , Statehouse Report LLC. Statehouse Report is published every Friday by Statehouse Report LLC, PO Box 22261, Charleston, SC 29413.
Excerpts from The South Carolina Encyclopedia are published with permission and copyrighted 2006 by the Humanities Council SC. Excerpts were edited by Walter Edgar and published by the University of South Carolina Press. Statehouse Report has partnered with USC Press to provide readers with this interesting weekly historical excerpt about the state. Republication is not allowed. For additional information about Statehouse Report, including information on underwriting, go to http://www.statehousereport.com/.