The Gas Tax Bill – A Guide for the Perplexed

● The Senate’s bill raises gas tax by 12 cents per gallon ● Includes large increases in array of fees ● Calls tax a ‘fee,’ allowing Infrastructure Bank to create more debt ● Includes convoluted tax ‘off-sets’ ● Includes no reform of DOT After much debate and maneuvering, the Senate finally passed its version of a […]

Tightening (?) Income Disclosure Laws

LEGISLATION WOULD TIGHTEN SOME REQUIREMENTS FOR STATEMENTS OF ECONOMIC INTEREST — AND LOOSEN OTHERS Late in March, House Republicans, including Speaker Jay Lucas, sponsored a bill requiring increased disclosure on elected officials’ statements of economic interest. On its face, the legislation seems to tighten disclosure laws pretty significantly. The main items: (1) Officials would be […]

Getting Rid of the DOT Commission?

BILL WOULD ELIMINATE THE COMMISSION THAT SHIELDS POLICYMAKERS FROM ACCOUNTABILITY There seems to be broad agreement (except, perhaps, among Statehouse legislative leaders) that the state’s road funding system needs structural overhaul. Structural reform at the DOT is no longer the foreign suggestion it was three or four years ago. H.3703 would restructure the agency, most notably […]

Budget Growth Since 2007 – Fast and Furious

LAWMAKERS OVERSEE EXPLOSION IN FEDERAL FUNDS, FINES & FEES Each year during the budget debate, legislators talk about the responsible spending included in the budget. In this year’s debate, for instance, a House leader described the historically high budget as “reining in government spending.” But the numbers tell a different story. Since 2007, the total budget […]

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‘Small’ $497 Million Bond Bill to Hit Ways & Means

PAYING FOR ROUTINE RENOVATIONS WITH DEBT HAS BECOME A THING Update: The final version of the committee bill ended up being $497 million, nearly half of which is going to higher education. The amount appropriated to the DOT for rest area renovations is $16.2 million. Chairman Brian White stated that this appropriation will help ensure that […]

House Passes $27.3 Billion Budget

‘CONSERVATIVE’ BUDGET A FULL BILLION DOLLARS BIGGER THAN LAST YEAR’S Late Tuesday night the House passed by far the largest budget in state history, as it usually does this time of year. The spending plan totals $27.3 billion – a $1 billion increase over last year’s budget. The vote was 113-5. One significant amendment that passed […]

Reforming the Judiciary in One Short Bill

A CONSTITUTIONAL AMENDMENT TO RESTORE THE BALANCE OF POWER The most frequent criticism made of South Carolina’s form of government – it’s also the most accurate one – is that the legislative branch dominates the other two branches. Nowhere is this more obvious than in the selection of judges: lawmakers pick them, pure and simple. […]

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The Return of ‘Competitive Grants’

THAT’S A EUPHEMISM FOR ‘PORK BY COMMITTEE’ [Update: This proviso was struck from the House budget when the bill went to the floor.] Buried in this year’s state budget bill is a proviso establishing a program that may sound familiar. The program is the Competitive Grants Review Committee – a committee that doles out money […]

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UPDATE: Senate Gas Tax Plan

THIS ONE’S A STRAIGHT-UP TAX HIKE [Update: A quick side-by-side comparison of Senate and House bills is available here.] This morning the Senate Finance subcommittee took up H.3516, the gas tax hike legislation that passed the House last week. Sen. Vincent Sheheen proposed a strike-and-replace amendment, which was adopted as the “working document” with which […]

House to Chip Away at Roll Call Requirement?

RESOLUTION WOULD ALLOW HOUSE TO BYPASS ROLL CALL ON BUDGET SECTIONS In 2008, the Policy Council released a study revealing that the South Carolina General Assembly passed bills with recorded votes only 5 percent of the time. In short, lawmakers were passing hundreds of laws on unrecorded voice votes, thus in effect exempting themselves from […]

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