Ethics Reform: Some Re-Gifting Ideas

A FEW IDEAS WORTH KEEPING FOR NEXT YEAR . . . The 2013 legislative session will begin in January, and many lawmakers and pundits have predicted that this will be the year of “ethics reform.” We don’t know what “ethics reform” will mean yet – a genuine overhaul of Columbia’s culture of secret deal-making, cronyism, […]

Freedom of Information?

FOR A ‘FREEDOM OF INFORMATION’ LAW, OURS DOESN’T ALLOW VERY MUCH INFORMATION Want information about the way a state agency uses your tax dollars? Here’s the good news: nearly every agency of any size employs a full-time Public Information Officer whose job – as the title implies – is to provide the public with information […]

The Rules Apply to Everyone. (Except Us.)

WHY THE HOUSE & SENATE ETHICS COMMITTEES SHOULDN’T EXIST – AND WHY IT MATTERS South Carolina is often said – correctly – to be dominated by the legislature. What does that mean, exactly? Partly it means that the General Assembly takes the lion’s share of power over most areas of state government. But it also means […]

UPDATE: The House version of the DOA bill

The House of Representatives has finally unveiled their amendment to the Department of Administration bill – after crafting it behind closed doors for more than two months. It sailed through the House in record time and has already gone back to the Senate. This House proposal finally eliminates the Budget and Control Board. The trouble […]

State Government Charges for Public Information

Despite constant proclamations from state officials about their commitment to transparency, the Policy Council and The Nerve have thoroughly documented how difficult it is in South Carolina to get state employees to turn over public documents. The more deeply that citizens get involved in state government, the more critical it is that they have access to the information mandated by the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA). Freedom of information is the only thing that can keep lawmakers directly accountable to private citizens, journalists, and other entities that serve the public interest.

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Government De-Structuring?

Yesterday the Senate passed what many are calling the most significant restructuring plan this state has seen in decades. By a vote of 44-0, the South Carolina Senate passed H.3066 – a bill creating a Department of Administration and dissolving the anomaly that was the state Budget and Control Board.  Unfortunately – and despite all […]

Government restructuring – Reform or status quo?

  South Carolina elected officials claim to be restructuring government, but is anything changing?  Are we moving toward real separation of powers, or is the status quo being preserved?  Below are the major problems with the current plan, and the solutions that would finally make South Carolina’s government fully accountable to the citizens. Bonding authority Problem:  […]

Getting restructuring right – or wrong?

  The state Senate is currently debating what could turn out to be the most important piece of government restructuring legislation to come along in a quarter-century. Among other things, the bill would create a Department of Administration, putting some executive functions where they belong (under the governor), and eliminate the Budget and Control Board. […]

Creating a Department of Administration – An Update

A new amendment to the Department of Administration bill has hit the Senate floor. Although it’s a moving target, here’s an overview of what the bill would do with state government’s most basic functions. Download as pdf by clicking here. Eliminated: Budget & Control Board, State Financial Affairs Authority The Senate’s first shot at eliminating the […]

Restructuring Done Right: Separate and Diffuse Power, Concentrate Accountability

The Senate is currently considering legislation (H 3066) that would eliminate the Budget & Control Board (BCB), devolving the BCB’s responsibilities to a cabinet-level Department of Administration and a newly created entity called the State Financial Affairs Authority (SFAA). The Budget & Control Board would also continue to manage the state retirement system until July 1, 2013, at which time the BCB would be abolished and the retirement system would come under the purview of a new agency, the Public Employee Benefit Agency.