What Makes One Lawmaker So Powerful?

SEN. HUGH LEATHERMAN HOLDS A BEWILDERING ARRAY OF STATE OFFICES. HE IS ACCOUNTABLE TO ONLY ONE SENATE DISTRICT. THE RESULT IS PREDICTABLE. Two of the most powerful offices in South Carolina are the presidency pro tempore of the Senate, and the chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. Any politician occupying one or the other holds […]

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South Carolina Roads

Will Lawmakers Raise the Gas Tax in 2017?

LAST YEAR, THE PROBLEM WAS STRUCTURAL RATHER THAN MONETARY. IT STILL IS. Over the past several weeks there has been considerable public speculation that Gov. Nikki Haley’s successor may support a gas tax increase. Given calls to raise the gas tax from editorial boards, Department of Transportation officials, and state lawmakers, it’s fair to assume that the […]

South Carolina budget legislation

Income Disclosure Bill Becomes Law

BUT THE NEW LAW WON’T TELL YOU MUCH ABOUT CONFLICTS OF INTEREST The legislature has now passed, and the governor signed, allegedly groundbreaking “ethics reform” legislation on the investigation of lawmakers and income disclosure. Why does income disclosure matter? Currently, state lawmakers are required to disclose almost nothing about their sources of income. That means, among […]

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South Carolina roads legislature

What the House Did on the Senate Roads Plan

STILL NO TAX INCREASE, BUT STILL NO ACTUAL REFORM The House took up the Senate roads plan (H.3579) on Wednesday, April 13, and amended the bill once again. Debate was extensive, but all the votes related to the bill were lopsided. Representatives Jonathon Hill (R-Anderson) and Rick Quinn (R-Lexington) each proposed amendments that would abolish the […]

South Carolina Legislation

Giant Ethics Bill to Hit Senate Floor

ALL YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT THIS YEARS ETHICS DEBATE On April 5, 2016, the South Carolina Senate will begin debating the omnibus ethics-related bill that is currently on special order. What follows is an overview of what bills are currently in the Senate, where they stand in the process, and exactly what they would […]

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Why DOT’s Priority Lists Are Mostly Meaningless

GAS TAX HIKE SUPPORTERS CLAIM THE DEPARTMENT OF TRANSPORTATON ALREADY USES OBJECTIVE CRITERIA IN CHOOSING ROAD PROJECTS. THEY’RE WRONG. One of the most frequently repeated arguments against reforming the Department of Transportation – and thus one of the most frequently repeated arguments in favor of raising the gas tax – is that the DOT was […]

Bill Removes Accountability from Road Funding

LEGISLATION WOULD REMOVE WHAT LITTLE ACCOUNTABILITY AND TRANSPARENCY STILL REMAIN IN SOUTH CAROLINA’S ROAD FUNDING SYSTEM ● Bill empowers murky government entities called “COGs” ● Removes governor’s power to appoint DOT secretary ● Process to nominate commissioners convoluted, confusing ● Governor would “nominate” commissioners, but could only choose from among lawmakers’ preferred candidates The latest attempt to “reform” […]

Senate’s Latest Version of ‘Ethics Reform’

  DANGEROUS ‘ELECTIONEERING’ PROVISION SCRAPPED, BUT LEGISLATION STILL CONSISTS MAINLY OF REGRESSIVE NON-REFORMS The Senate Judiciary Committee has just passed another omnibus ethics bill, H.3184. The bill has a tortured history, having been completely rewritten several times. The amended bill is not yet available to the public (this is the case with more and more legislation, incidentally). […]

Ending Legal Corruption – A Progress Report

● House bill on self-policing further empowers legislature. ● House income disclosure bills still full of loopholes. ● House FOIA reform bill still allows lawmaker exemption. The 2016 legislative session has begun with the usual round of speculation, accusations, and factually challenged claims. In her State of the State address, for example, Gov. Nikki Haley left the […]

South Carolina’s Endless Legislative Session

● South Carolina’s session is one of the nation’s longest ● Longer sessions mean lawmakers spending more time with lobbyists ● In South Carolina, there are about two lobbyists for every one lawmaker ● Last year, lobbyists in South Carolina made more than $15 million ● At least three current bills would significantly shorten session South Carolina’s legislative session can […]

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