Who Runs South Carolina State Government?

POLITICIANS YOU DIDN’T VOTE FOR. THAT’S WHO. From education to road funding, from the judicial system to your electric bill, the important decisions are made by state lawmakers who represent only their districts. Most South Carolinians don’t vote for them – or even know their names. So when your power bill goes up again, or […]

Bill Would Punish ‘False’ Testimony

HOUSE LEGISLATION WOULD MAKE IT A FELONY TO GIVE ‘INCOMPLETE’ TESTIMONY On Wednesday, outgoing Rep. Walt McLeod filed a bill allowing any legislative committee to require any committee testimony they hear to be given under oath. This bill states that testimony given to a committee or subcommittee may be under oath, and that anyone who “willfully […]

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SC General Assembly

Budget Process Remains Secretive

THERE’S ONLY ONE WAY TO ACHIEVE BUDGET TRANSPARENCY, AND THAT’S TO FOLLOW THE LAW  The budget debate this session was one of the most bizarre we’ve seen yet. It wasn’t that many years ago that the state’s Budget and Control Board was making across-the-board budget cuts owing to the recession and the state’s inability to meet its […]

Ethics Bills Perpetuate Self-Policing

• A pair of omnibus ethics bills now in the General Assembly purport to end legislative “self-policing.” • They don’t. • Instead, both bills perpetuate a system in which lawmakers have special laws written only for themselves, and in which they “investigate” and “punish” each other. [download .pdf] The issue of the day is “independent […]

Lawmakers File Scores of ‘Ethics’ Bills for 2015

WHICH ONES DESERVE THE WORD ‘REFORM’? Two years ago, many, perhaps most, lawmakers dismissed the need for ethics reform. They know better now. As the 2015 session begins, already more than 30 ethics-related bills have been filed. Some would accomplish worthy goals, to be sure. Yet most contain troubling and dangerous provisions that would loosen rather […]

Half-Year Legislative Sessions: WWFD?

S.C.’S SESSION SUFFOCATES REFORM AND CULTIVATES FULL-TIME POLITICIANS: WHAT WOULD THE FOUNDERS DO? The Policy Council has long taken the view that South Carolina’s legislative session is far too long. One might at first think a long session is necessary in order to let lawmakers “get things done,” but in part that’s precisely the problem […]

Why Did Reform Die in 2013?

WHEN THE ISSUE IS THE PRESERVATION OF POWER, REFORM HASN’T GOT A CHANCE In 2013, despite all the rhetoric with which the legislative year began, lawmakers failed to pass a single reform. The question is: Why? Putting aside any unbecoming motivations lawmakers might have had to resist reforms in ethics law, the state’s government structure, […]

The State Budget Shouldn’t Take This Long

WHY THE BUDGET TAKES HALF A YEAR TO PASS, AND WHAT TO DO ABOUT IT It has become an almost yearly tradition for the South Carolina General Assembly to use its time so inefficiently that important legislation – including the state budget – doesn’t pass before session concludes on the first Thursday in June. With […]

Who Investigates?

IS THERE A ‘CONTROLLING LEGAL AUTHORITY’ HERE? In 1997, when Vice President Al Gore was questioned about suspicious campaign fund-raising activities, he claimed repeatedly that he didn’t know it was illegal. “My counsel tells me,” said the Vice President, “there is no controlling legal authority that says that is any violation of the law.” Whatever […]

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 […]