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ISSUE 13.51
Dec. 19, 2014

12/12 | 12/05 | 11/28 | 11/21


News :
Prepping workers, students
Photo :
Courthouse, Williamsburg County, S.C.
Legislative Agenda :
No meetings, but inaugural events announced
Palmetto Politics :
Change of control
Commentary :
Heed the lesson of the Stinney case
Spotlight :
S.C. Senate Democratic Caucus
My Turn :
Outrage, anger at CIA's actions
Feedback :
Raise fees on mopeds, trailers
Tally Sheet :
House members pre-file 265 bills
Encyclopedia :
South Carolina's rivers

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House members pre-file 265 bills

Over the last two weeks, House members have pre-filed 265 bills. Here is a short description of major legislation. )To see all pre-filed bills, click here.)

Capitol police. H. 3002 (Pitts) seeks to establish a Capitol Police Force at the Statehouse.

No mopeds. H. 3003 (Hiott) seeks to keep mopeds off state highways and streets.

Sunset regulations. H. 3006 (Atwater) seeks for state regulations to expire after five years, in some instances.

Term limits. H. 3009 (Ballentine) is a House resolution seeking a rule change to limit committee chairmanships to 10 years.

Shorter sessions. H. 3014 (Bannister) seeks a constitutional amendment to shorten legislative sessions by having them start in February and end in May. H. 3121 (Putnam) is similar.

Alimony. H. 3019 (Brannon) seeks a law change that marriages lasting less than 10 years wouldn’t qualify for alimony.

Obamacare. H. 3020 (Chumley) seeks to turn back Obamacare through various provisions.

Same-sex marriage. H. 3022 (Chumley) seeks to prohibit use of taxpayer funds and payment of government salaries and benefits for activities related to licensing and support of same-sex marriage, with many provisions.

Concealed weapons. H. 3025 (Clemmons) seeks to allow someone permitted to carry a concealed weapon in another state be allowed to carry one in S.C.

Wind power. H. 3026 (Clemmons) seeks to add rules to encourage wind power, with many provisions.

Judicial elections. H. 3028 (Clemmons) is a resolution to set the date for various judicial elections to be Feb. 4, 2015.

EITC. H. 3029 (Cobb-Hunter) seeks a refundable state earned income tax credit, with several provisions.

Minimum wage. H. 3031 (Cobb-Hunter) calls for a $10.10 per hour state minimum wage.

Gun check. H. 3033 (Cobb-Hunter) calls for a national instant criminal background check before any firearms sales, with several provisions.

Domestic violence. H. 3034 (Cobb-Hunter) calls for tougher domestic violence rules that would cause a person convicted of criminal domestic violence to surrender firearms, with several provisions.

Constitutional officers. H. 3041 (Delleney) would change the state superintendent of education from an elected to an appointed position.

Reapportionment. H. 3047 (Funderburk) calls for an independent reapportionment commission to change how legislative districts are drawn, with several provisions. H. 3178 (Tinkler) is similar.

Whistleblowers. H. 3048 (Funderburk) calls for whistleblower protection for public employees, with several provisions. H. 3202 (Funderburk) is related.

Police cameras. H. 3057 (Gilliard) would require law enforcement officers to have wearable video cameras. H. 3058 (Gilliard) would create a study commission to study the issue.

Car tax cap. H. 3064 (Goldfinch) would raise the $300 sales tax cap on cars and motorcycles to $750.

Child and Family Services. H. 3079 (Horne) would create a new Department of Child and Family Services, which would take on many of the duties of the state Department of Social Services. H. 3104 (McEachern) seeks to require a safety plan to allow a child to be placed in a relative’s home instead of being taken into DSS custody.

Road names. H. 3081 (Huggins) would prohibit the state from naming a road, interchange or bridge for anyone who hasn’t been dead for at least 10 years.

Corporate income tax. H. 3085 (Limehouse) calls for the end of corporate income tax over four years. H. 3163 (Stringer) is similar.

Party registration. H. 3087 (Limehouse) seeks to require party registration for voters so that members of one party can’t vote in another party’s primary.

High-quality education. H. 3110 (W. McLeod) seeks a resolution to propose a constitutional amendment to require the state to provide for a high-quality public education.

Divorce. H. 3111 (W. McLeod) seeks a constitutional amendment to allow divorce on grounds of continuous separation for 180 days. H. 3112 is a bill that seeks the same.

Abortion. H. 3114 (Nanney) seeks pro-life legislation to halt abortions of unborn children older than 20 weeks, with several provisions.

Immigration. H. 3120 (Pitts) seeks to require verification of legal status to receive numerous health and welfare benefits.

Judges. H. 3123 (Putnam) seeks a constitutional amendment to require judges to be appointed by the governor with the consent of the General Assembly.

Gambling. H. 3127 (Rutherford) seeks a constitutional amendment to allow various forms of gambling in the state.

Marriage. H. 3135 (Rutherford) seeks a constitutional amendment to delete a section of the constitution that defines marriage as being between one man and one woman.

Flat tax. H. 3164 (Stringer) seeks a flat state income tax rate to replace individual income tax.

Campaign funds. H. 3171 (Tinkler) would require candidates to get written approval for campaign reimbursements over $500, with several provisions. H. 3187 (Finlay) would revise campaign practice definitions. H. 3188 (Finlay) would prohibit donations from non-candidate committees (leadership PACS). H. 3189 (Finlay) would require disclosure of independent campaign expenditures of more than $500. Other proposed reforms are in House bills 3196 to 3201.

Term limits. H. 3172 and 3173 (Tinkler) seeks to limit terms of members of the General Assembly.

Ethics reform. H. 3174 (Tinkler) seeks to steer ethics oversight to the state Ethics Commission, with several provisions. H. 3175 (Tinkler) is a related proposed constitutional amendment. H. 3184 (Pope) seeks to reconstitute the state Ethics Commission in a major way and revise its duties. H. 3185 (Pope) would update criminal penalties for ethics violations, with several provisions. H. 3227 (W. McLeod) seeks to establish a new kind of ethics commission framework, with several provisions.

Local government fund. H. 3180 (White) seeks to suspend the local government fund for 2015-16.

County tax reform. H. 3181 (White) is a broad tax reform proposal that would significantly impact counties. The summary of the complicated, long bill is more than four pages long.

Freedom of information. S. 3190 (Newton) would remove exemptions from FOI law for members of the General Assembly and their staffs, with limited exemptions only. H. 3191 (Newton) would create an FOI review office in a court.

ALEC. H. 3195 (Finlay) would delete an exemption for legislators to attend conventions and conferences of the American Legislative Exchange Council if paid by lobbyists’ principals, with other provisions.

Fair tax. H. 3211 (Corley) seeks to pass a “fair tax,” with many provisions.

State grand jury. H. 3218 (Lucas) would revise rules involving state grand juries, with many provisions.

Information security. H. 3226 (M. McLeod) calls for creation of a state Department of Information Security, with several provisions.

Regents. H. 3249 (G.M. Smith) seeks a state College and University Board of Regents to oversee higher education and replace other boards.

Certificate of need. H. 3250 (G.M. Smith) seeks to amend the state certificate of need program in various ways.

Equal pay. H. 3253 (Stavrinakis) seeks to prohibit discrimination by gender in compensation, with several provisions.

High-speed rail. H. 3254 (Stavrinakis) seeks to establish a high-speed rail commission to develop a plan of action for such rail.

Gas tax. H. 3262 and 3263 (Stringer) would raise a gas fuel tax by five cents a gallon with several provisions related to county roads.


What a great property


South Carolina's rivers

Part 1 of 2

South Carolina has an abundance of rivers that originate from within the state or that enter from North Carolina and Georgia and drain land as far away as Virginia. These rivers flow generally from the northwest to the southeast, following the geography from high elevations in the Blue Ridge and Piedmont to the lower elevations of the coastal plain. The Blue Ridge and Piedmont contain narrow drainage divides between river tributaries, some only a few miles wide. The result is a landscape that is almost completely dissected by streams and rivers. Some rivers begin at the base of the Sandhills and cross over the coastal plain to the Atlantic Ocean. Others begin outside of the state and flow into South Carolina, forming three large river systems: the Santee, the Savannah, and the Pee Dee.

The Santee River system, right,  is the largest on the east coast. It drains water from North Carolina and carries it through South Carolina through three major rivers (Saluda, Catawba, Broad) and through smaller tributaries (Enoree, Tyger, Reedy). The Broad and the Saluda join at Columbia to form the Congaree River. Geomorphic features of interest on the Congaree floodplain include oxbow lakes and an extensive series of meanders. In the north, the Catawba River enters South Carolina near Rock Hill and is renamed the Wateree as it flows south to form Lake Wateree. Further downstream just above Lake Marion, the Wateree and the Congaree join to form the Santee River, which then flows into the Atlantic Ocean, forming the Santee Delta just south of Georgetown.

During the 1930s and 1940s the Santee River system was dammed in several places to form lakes for flood control, hydroelectric power, and recreation. A major geological and ecological change resulted. The sediment load previously carried by the river water was diverted as the water passed into the lakes. As the river water slowed, the sediments fell and collected on lake bottoms and behind dams, instead of flowing down the river to the coast. After 1942, when the dams and lakes opened, there was a marked decrease in water and sediment flow down the Santee River. This decrease in turn prevented the long-shore ocean currents from moving the sand up and down the coast to nourish the barrier islands, which has resulted in their erosion. Silting of Charleston harbor also became a problem. Since 1985 a rediversion canal has diverted some of the water and sediment back into the Santee River. This has lessened the sedimentation of the harbor.

To be continued ...

-- Excerpted from the entry by Carolyn H. Murphy. 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 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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Prepping workers, students

S.C. Chamber pushes for tech schools to fill critical needs jobs

By Bill Davis, senior editor

DEC. 19, 2014 -- One of the state’s most powerful lobbying groups and voices for the business community, the S.C. Chamber of Commerce, has made workforce development a top agenda item of the coming legislative session.

In its 2015 Competitiveness Agenda, the chamber has called upon the legislature to address “critical needs” jobs created by a resurgent manufacturing sector that require more than a GED but less than a Ph.D.

In short, the chamber is pushing for to improve workforce development in the state’s already fairly robust technical college system.

Why? The chamber is concerned South Carolina is falling behind in its ability to fill these jobs, citing a state report that says 54 percent of jobs in the workforce are falling into the “critical needs” category but with only 28 percent of residents having the skills to fill those jobs.

While the chamber will push for many legislative items in the coming legislative session, it will also focus much of its collective power on “our state’s most important asset -- our workforce and its future development,” according to Mikee Johnson, the chamber’s chairman for the current fiscal year and chief executive officer of Cox Industries.

This is not a new position for the chamber. It has championed workforce preparedness in years past, be it in the form of asking for higher taxes for better public K-12 schools to increased higher education funding.  

Technically speaking

Hope Rivers, vice president for student and academic affairs for the S.C. Technical College System, said there’s an even split currently in the roughly 250,000 students attending tech schools: half are taking classes for college credit and the other half in work-related continuing education.

Rivers said the challenge has been, especially after the number of students the system handles surged mightily during the Great Recession, to try “and keep up with the technology of the real factory floors” across the state.

Gone is the manufacturing base of yore in South Carolina in which men and women risked fingers and more in textile mills' click-clack rooms. Today’s manufacturing paradigm has evolved into a much more 21st century endeavor.

Boeing has been the 400-pound gorilla in the workforce development arena since it opened in North Charleston five years ago, an example that good jobs and an improved tax base are possible through tech-heavy manufacturing jobs.

Critical thinking important, too

But there some in the state, such as economist Holley Ulbrich, who hope support for workforce preparedness extends to primary and secondary schools. Ulbrich notes that the state’s past manufacturing base quickly eroded when textile companies left the country for cheaper pastures in Latin America and Southeast Asia.

Ulbrich, a distinguished emeritus scholar at Clemson’s Strom Thurmond Institute, noted that tire manufacturing, a burgeoning industry in South Carolina, may not be as tech-heavy as building the planes of tomorrow, and that those jobs could go the way of textile jobs in the not-too-distant future.

As such, Ulbrich, whose brother went to vocational school, said some of the workforce development focus needed to remain on building critical-thinking skills in K-12 students.

Bernadette Hampton, president of the S.C. Education Association, an education watchdog and lobbying group, said she hoped the legislature would link its support of both K-12 and technical schools.

Holistic approach

Hampton also said the legislature needed to make sure it focus was in all the zip codes of the state, that kids from everywhere “be they from Allendale County or Charleston County” get an education that could lead to a Boeing-style job.

A holistic approach already seems to gaining traction with the chamber, as its board chair Johnson state recently that the idea of ‘”cradle to career” encompasses education at all levels.

“We believe the optimization of our workforce will not only be a core component of improving our infrastructure, but also the quality of life for all facets of South Carolina,” Johnson said.

Bill Davis is senior editor of Statehouse Report.  He can be reached at:

  • 12/12:  School issues may take a while to deal with
  • 12/5: Education standards effort stalls
  • 11/21:  Time is ripe for changes to domestic violence laws
  • 11/14:  Are S.C. Dems toast?

  • Photo

    Courthouse, Williamsburg County, S.C.

    Legendary architect
    Robert Mills, who designed the Washington Monument, also designed the courthouse in Williamsburg County, S.C.  The ground floor of the building, built in 1823, is part of the original structure, writes photographer Linda W. Brown of Kingstree, S.C. More photos: Center for a Better South.

    Legislative Agenda

    No meetings, but inaugural events announced

    There are no major meetings scheduled by lawmakers next week in Columbia.

    The 2015 legislative session opens at noon on Tuesday, Jan. 13, 2015.

    Inaugural events announced

    The inaugural ceremonies for Gov. Nikki Haley’s second term will be Jan. 14, 2015. Among the activities set for the event are:

    6 p.m., Jan. 13 -- Family Fun Night at the S.C. State Museum.  Tickets are $20 for adults; children under 18 are free.

    9 a.m. Jan. 14 -- Prayer service, Trinity Episcopal Cathedral, Columbia.

    11 a.m., Jan. 14 -- Inauguration ceremony, south steps of the S.C. Statehouse.

    2 p.m., Jan. 14 -- Two-hour open house at Governor’s Mansion, Columbia.

    7:30 p.m., Jan. 14 -- Inaugural Gala, Columbia Metropolitan Convention Center. Tickets cost $250 per couple.

    Palmetto Politics

    Change of control

    A quick game of musical chairs took place this week atop of the S.C. Chamber of Commerce, the state’s largest “broad-based business organization.”

    The Chamber announced Thursday that its current president and chief financial officer, Otis Rawl, would be stepping down, online to be replaced beginning in January by Ted Pitts, right, former chief of staff to Gov. Nikki Haley who just joined the Chamber last month. Rawl has been in the top position since October 2008 and will continue as an advisor to the chamber’s board during the transition.  

    Prior to working for the governor, Pitts, 42, a commercial Realtor by trade, served in Afghanistan with the S.C. National Guard, ran for lieutenant governor and was a Republican member of the state House (2003-10).

    Neither Rawl nor Pitts responded to two days of requests for comment.


    Heed the lesson of the Stinney case

    By Andy Brack, editor and publisher

    DEC. 19, 2014 -- There’s a learning moment for South Carolina lawmakers in the case of George Stinney Jr., the 14-year-old Clarendon County boy railroaded to execution in 1944.

    A Beaufort County judge on Dec. 16 vacated the murder conviction of the young African American teen-ager. In April 1944, just a month after being arrested for the deaths of two white girls, an all-white jury spent 10 minutes deliberating after a two-hour trial before convicting Stinney. His court-appointed defense lawyer mostly stood by, filing no appeals or requests for a stay of execution. In June, less than three months after the murders, the state electrocuted Stinney, the youngest person executed in the country in the last century.

    It was another lowlight of the Jim Crow South. Stinney’s family fled Clarendon County, just like others did a few years later after black parents filed a lawsuit seeking to overturn “separate but equal” education. That case, first filed in 1947, was the foundation of the landmark Brown v. Board decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that ended segregated schools.

    Circuit Judge Carmen T. Mullen vacated the Stinney conviction based on a 600-year-old legal remedy of common law that is so rarely used that many have never heard of it.  The extraordinary remedy, called a writ of coram nobis, was applicable because of fundamental due process errors that aren’t generally found in modern cases. In the Stinney case, for example, the writ was used because the conviction “was obtained by unfair or unlawful methods and no other corrective judicial remedy is available.” (Read Judge Mullen's ruling.)

    Anyone worrying that inmates incarcerated today in jails and state prisons will flood courts using this due process writ shouldn’t get hot and bothered. It won’t apply because there are lots of other judicial remedies available.

    But what should be instructive to citizens and especially state lawmakers is that South Carolina has finally recognized that it did something very wrong 70 years ago as America was focused on the D-Day invasion of France in World War II. This week’s ruling won’t bring back George Stinney Jr. It won’t erase the fact that the teen’s family never saw him alive again after he was arrested in March 1944 -- not while he sat afraid in jail, not during the trial and not as he waited to die. 

    The ruling, however, does accomplish two things. First, it provides some solace and closure to family members who are still alive. And second, it shows how South Carolina can face its past and admit a wrong.

    The South Carolina General Assembly can lead the way. There are dozens of problems in this state that are legacies of Jim Crow days that have never been effectively battled.  It’s time to right those wrongs, once and for all. It’s time to do more than just what businesses and special interests want. It’s time to provide good opportunities for the downtrodden, the “least of these” as described in the Book of Matthew.

    Wondering where to focus? Just look the state’s high poverty rate, challenged education system and high incarceration rate (13th highest in the country at 473 prisoners per 100,000 people in 2011).

    “Overt racism of 70 years ago in treatment of George Stinney unfortunately lingers today in institutions,” said Victoria Middleton, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of South Carolina. “We continue to see more children of color bear the brunt of harsh school discipline practices and juvenile sentencing.”

    It’s uncomfortable for many to talk about race and the enduring effects of racism. But from a policy perspective, it’s time to move forward and look at institutional racial disparities across the Palmetto State. And for that, state lawmakers should lead the way.

    “Education is the one area where the legislature can have the most immediate impact -- to commit dollars to right a 100-year-old wrong,” said the Rev. Joseph Darby, a presiding elder with the AME church and longtime Charleston civil rights activist.

    Our state’s leaders need to broaden their policy focus beyond partisan politics. They need to think beyond labels and hot-button issues. Now is the time to absorb the big picture and then focus on proactive ways to shed the legacies of the past.

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


    S.C. Senate Democratic Caucus

    The public spiritedness of our underwriters allows us to bring Statehouse Report to you at no cost. This week's spotlighted underwriter is the S.C. Senate Democratic Caucus. Organized almost 25 years ago, the Caucus has played an important role in many of the historic issues facing our state. As a vibrant minority party in the Senate, its role is to represent our constituents and present viable alternatives on critical issues. The S.C. Senate Democratic Caucus remains a unique place for this to occur in our policy process.

    My Turn

    Outrage, anger at CIA's actions

    By Elliott Brack, Contributor, special to Statehouse Report

    DEC. 19, 2014 -- Outrage!

    Anger! Disgust! Horror! Shame!

    Those are some of the emotions I feel after hearing of the way the Central Intelligence Agency of the United States has treated people in detention in the War on Terror. For this to be happening in a nation that says that all individuals have certain human rights, no matter what their station, the CIA actions are the highest of hypocrisy, which also goes against the basic principles that the American people hold high.

    On top of that, the prolonged detention of these detainees, some later found not to be terrorists at all, shows what can go wrong when a unit of our government, in this case the CIA, is not properly scrutinized by oversight authorities.

    It's even worse than that. Apparently the CIA was not even telling our leaders the whole truth, and even lulling them into thinking that matters were not as bad as they appeared.

    As one report called the activities of the CIA were from a "broken agency" using "a failed approach" to mislead the White House and Congress. For instance, the agency had secret prisons around the world and failed to provide basic oversight of them.

    As is often the case, our government, in a more-than-panic mode after the September 11 terrorist attacks, took the "usual approach" of throwing money after the problem, hiring consultants to handle the problems. They used unapproved, grotesque techniques. Hard to believe but, the so-called consultants had little experience in this field, and were working with little supervision. Of course, the CIA should have been more aggressive in its supervision, and ultimately bears the blame for these excesses.

    What will happen, we fear, is that the CIA will deny all it can, politicians will try to make it all seem like someone else is to blame, and in the long run, no one will be punished for these atrocities. It's the similar old story we have heard before, with no one really being punished for these crimes. (Think of how few bankers have gone to jail for their misdeeds.) All this undermines confidence in our government, and little is changed.

    Our nation owes U.S. Sen. Dianne Feinstein and her Intelligence Committee a major thank you for not letting this horrible chapter in the CIA history be merely swept under the rug. Though some people within the government criticize the release of this information, the American people need to know more about this, and take measures to insure that it will not happen again. If similar tactics happen to crop up once more, the perpetrators should be severely punished, and banned from any future engagement in government.

    What particularly worries one after reading about these atrocities is that the various brutal techniques yielded little, if any, intelligence that the CIA did not already know. No lesser authority on such techniques than once-tortured Sen. John McCain has spoken out about these revelations with his condemnation of the use of torture. Does his earlier suffering go for nothing? But many would want to skip over the recognized fact that nothing good comes out of such tactics.

    These revelations are a stain on the USA's values and heritage. It has diminished the way other nations look upon us. However, we admit to the world that it happened, and must do our best to see that it never happens again. It will take lots of time, but we hope that some day that our country will be recognized again for being a nation of high moral force.

    Longtime Georgia journalist Elliott Brack, father of Statehouse Report's publisher, offered this commentary today in  We thought it would make you think a little.


    Raise fees on mopeds, trailers

    To the editor:

    I read your article in West Of having to do with our roads.  You offer some suggestions on how to fix our roads, among them raising  our gas tax, registration fees, sales tax, etc.

    I have a great idea. Why not have all mopeds and trailers be registered and insured?  I'm sure this would raise more funds than we need to get our roads fixed.  After all, they use our roads and don't contribute to their upkeep.

    -- Frank Giovannone, Charleston, S.C.

    Editor’s note: Mr. Giovannone is correct that this would raise needed revenue, but not to the scale that’s needed because of years of underinvestment. If there are 100,000 mopeds and trailers and each are taxed $100, the state would reap $10 million. But as we’ve discussed, the state needs an extra $1.5 billion a year to keep up with maintenance and needs.

    Give us a shout, or just shout at us.  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:


    Statehouse Report

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

    Phone: 843.670.3996

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