Taking the Power Back: Eight Reforms

HOW CAN WE MAKE SOUTH CAROLINA’S POLITICIANS THE LEAST POWERFUL AND MOST ACCOUNTABLE IN THE NATION? (1)  Restore judicial independence. The public deserves confidence that judges rule independently of the legislature whose laws they judge. South Carolina is the only state in the nation in which the legislature unilaterally appoints judges even when vacancies arise. […]

Repairing the S.C. Public Service Commission

REFORM IS MEANINGLESS WHEN LEGISLATORS DOMINATE AND NO ONE IS ACCOUNTABLE In our legislatively dominated state, there’s practically no aspect of state government that the General Assembly doesn’t either dominate or influence. South Carolina and Virginia are the only states where legislators nominate and elect judges, and South Carolina legislators appoint more than 420 members […]

Education Oversight Committee Passes the Buck on Common Core

  COMMITTEE WON’T MAKE DECISION, CITIZENS PAY THE PRICE In February of 2012 the State Board of Education approved the use of SMARTER Balanced assessments – the tests made by a “consortium” of states used to assess Common Core standards. Nearly two years later, the Education Oversight Committee (EOC) has yet to approve the use of these […]

Is Legislative Self-Policing Really a Problem?

IF AN ETHICS REFORM BILL ALLOWS LAWMAKERS TO CONTINUE POLICING THEMSELVES, IS IT REALLY AN ETHICS REFORM BILL? During a brief debate on H. 3945 – a bill most legislators and the governor characterize as meaningful ethics reform – Senator Luke Rankin (R-Horry, and Chairman of the Senate Ethics Committee) referred to the process of […]

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Fines & Fees Imposed by the Unelected: WWFD?

WHY THE DANGER OF ‘TAXATION WITHOUT REPRESENTATION’ IS STILL  WITH US In many states – certainly including South Carolina – the state can raise taxes on citizens without even consulting the legislature. If that sounds outrageous, consider the fact that fines and fees are taxes. The raising of fines and fees on citizens by state […]

Unlawful Seizure of Cell Phones: What Would George Mason Say?

LIKE IT OR NOT, THE FOURTH AMENDMENT EXISTS Among the few excellent bills filed during the 2013 legislative session – and analyzed in our Best & Worst guide (download here) – is H.3059. This refreshingly short and uncomplicated bill would make it illegal for law enforcement officers to seize cell phones, video recorders, or other electronic recording devices at the […]

The Ethics Bill Is Back

THREE PROVISIONS THAT SHOULD BE AMENDED, PRONTO Today, a Senate Select Committee on Ethics will consider H.3945, the ethics bill that failed to make it out of the Senate last year. The bill has gone through several manifestations, each one generally worse than the last. Our hope is that Senators Rankin, Campsen, Hayes, Hutto, Jackson, […]

S.C. Public Education & the Common Core Zeitgeist

A RECENT EDUCATION OVERSIGHT COMMITTEE MEETING SUGGESTS JUST HOW MUCH POWER WE’RE GIVING AWAY  “Security has asked me to advise that they are in attendance. If there are any outbursts from the audience, they will be escorted out of the meeting.” That’s how this week’s Education Oversight Committee (EOC) meeting was kicked off. In its […]

Road Funding Priorities Run Further Amok

S.C.’S ROAD POLICY: BUILD NEW ROADS WITHOUT FIXING EXISTING ONES Since the close of the 2013 legislative session, the confused priorities of the state’s transportation authorities have been on full display. Just before the session ended, lawmakers passed a bill that would allow the largely unaccountable State Transportation Infrastructure Bank (STIB) to borrow up to […]

Is South Carolina Really All That ‘Pro-Gun’?

OUR LAWS MIGHT SURPRISE YOU A great deal of coverage was given recently to South Carolina’s successful wooing of Connecticut gun manufacturer PTR Industries concentrated on state officials’ – and especially the governor’s –  “personal touch” as an important factor in PTR’s decision to relocate. Equally important, some officials claim (and some in the media […]