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October 25, 2006 | South Carolina Headlines


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Commentary On Legislative Session
Jimmy Moore
December 16, 2002

The year 2003 will be upon us in a little over a couple of weeks. As our South Carolina lawmakers are enjoying spending time with their family and friends during the Christmas holiday season, they will undoubtedly be contemplating the busy agenda that awaits them once the General Assembly commences in January.

There are numerous important issues that need to be addressed by the people we have chosen to be our representatives. It is a challenging and humbling task to be the mouthpiece for a wide range of people that encompass the state of South Carolina. This is especially true when you realize that the decisions they are making can and will directly affect your life in one way or another.

The State newspaper listed many of the upcoming bills that will be considered during the 2003 S.C. House legislative session in an article on Sunday. Prefiling for these bills began on December 4, 2002.

Letís examine just a few of the bills that will be considered by the General Assembly in 2003. I have listed the bill number, the author of the bill and a summary of each bill below. My reaction emoticon and my personal commentary about each will follow:

House bill 3002
State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D-Orangeburg)
Exempts from Property Taxes Mobile Homes occupied as a legal residence by an owner 62 years of age or older.


I would not expect anything less from a pandering liberal like Rep. Cobb-Hunter than this! Letís go ahead and give that property tax exemption to those elderly trailer home owners in South Carolina. But what about the rest of us who are already paying an increasing property tax load each and every year?!?! When is the General Assembly going to address the skyrocketing property taxes on cars which are the second highest in the nation? If the General Assembly is going to consider ANY property tax cuts or exemptions, then it should not be limited to just one group of people.

House bill 3008
State Rep. James Smith (D-Richland)
Provides that restrictions on minor's driver's licenses may be modified or waived if the minor proves that the restriction interferes with travel between home and religious sponsored events.


Huh?!?! Let me see if I understand what this bill is all about. This bill would allow a 15-year-old to be able to legally drive alone as long as he is going to church or to a church-sponsored function? Exsqueeze me? I donít get it. I can see it now: ďWhy yes, officer, I am just on my way to an uplifting time of worship at my church, er, uh, the, uh, First, uh, er, Presby...Metho...Bapticostal Church of Latter Day, uh, um Assembly. Yep, thatís where Iím going. Have a nice day and keep up the good work!Ē

House bill 3011
State Rep. James Smith (D-Richland)
Raises taxes on cigarettes to 51 cents a pack, up from 7 cents a pack, with the money be used to fund Medicaid.


While I personally do not smoke cigarettes and would not be directly affected by this 729% increase in taxes, I do not like the idea of the General Assembly singling out a specific group of taxpayers--smokers--to fund state government. Although members of the General Assembly see dollar signs in their eyes when they look at this bill, they are neglecting the fact that smokers will either find a way to purchase their cigarettes from neighboring states, such as North Carolina and Georgia, or they will decide the price of cigarettes is too high and kick the habit. Either way, the predicted revenues from any tax increase on cigarettes will fall way short of projections.

House bill 3012
State Rep. John Graham Altman (R-Charleston)
Protects telephone customers from unwanted telephone solicitation, including creation of a "no-call list."


With a massive increase in telemarketing calls over just the past couple of years, this is a bill that is long overdue. I am not sure how the General Assembly is going to make it work since there are many telemarketing firms that call people at random or call from other states. However, if a ďno-call listĒ can be created and enforced in South Carolina, then I am very much in favor of making it happen. Where can I sign up to be on the ďno-call list?Ē

House bill 3014
State Rep. Joe Brown (D-Richland)
Requires all buildings built by or for the state to have twice as many toilets for women as for men.


Well, alrighty then. Is this a problem at the S.C. Statehouse? I read an article the other day that revealed the South Carolina General Assembly has the fewest female members in the nation. So what is the impetus behind this bill? Is Columbia being inundated with female tourists who have to go? Just be sure the seat is down in all of those restrooms, mind you!

House bill 3017 and House bill 3034
State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter (D-Orangeburg)
Provides for a study of the funding formulas for public education to determine if they are adequate and equitable and creates a study of funding public education in this state in grades K-12.


What a surprise! Yet another couple of bills from Rep. Cobb-Hunter that illustrates perfectly how liberals attempt to appear compassionate and concerned. Letís just throw money at a problem we either already know exists or one we want to create to show how much we care about education. If anyone votes against this bill, then surely they must be against education! Rather than spending money to try to figure out why we have problems in education, why donít we just allocate that money to increase teacher salaries? The problem with education isnít money, Rep. Cobb-Hunter. The problem with education is that too much money is being used for everything but education. How about requiring school districts to limit their administrative costs to 10%? That would free up plenty of money for teachers to have a pay increase and enable students to have the textbooks and supplies they need to learn. And I donít think we need a study to do this!

House bill 3019
State Rep. James Smith (D-Richland)
Provides that a person who witnesses littering may swear out a warrant to initiate prosecution of the offender.


ďExcuse me, would you please pull over to the side of the road?! Thank you. Now, you have the right to remain silent...Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law...what? You want to know what Iím doing? Iím am conducting a citizenís arrest because I caught you littering. I saw you throw that gum wrapper out of your window. Iíll take that wrapper to the lab and CSI you big time if you donít comply. Now donít resist. Why am I doing this? Because the S.C. General Assembly deputized me and gave me the authority to lock you away for being a litterbug. Letís go. Iím gonna need to haul you down to the police station. Watch out for the tacks in my backseat and for goodness sake donít throw anything else out the window!Ē

House bill 3031
State Rep. Ralph Davenport (R-Spartanburg)
Prohibits a state or local governmental from removing or causing to be removed a sign in view of an interstate, road or street without justly compensating its owner.


Okay, I believe I understand the purpose of this bill, but who is going to decide what ďjust compensationĒ is for the owner of a sign that needs to be taken down? Can it be defined as the amount of money that it would have cost to have the sign up for potential customers to see? Or will the owner of the sign be awarded money to make up for the potential decrease in the amount of sales he had as a result of the sign no longer being posted? The language of this bill is a little too vague for me to decide whether I like or dislike it.

House bill 3037
State Rep. John Graham Altman (R-Charleston)
Prohibits a candidate from being nominated by more than one political party.


Has this happened? I wouldnít think a candidate would be nominated by both the Democratic and Republican party at the same time, but I guess it is possible. I wonder if this bill has more to do with Libertarian candidates who attempt to run for office and could possibly win both the Libertarian and Republican nomination? Obviously, the candidate would not run for the same office under both parties, so I donít see what the big deal is about this.

House bill 3038
State Rep. John Graham Altman (R-Charleston)
Change the primary election date from the second to the last Tuesday in June.


Is there a practical reason why the date needs to be changed? Can you imagine how much more political propaganda we would have had to endure from the South Carolina GOP gubernatorial candidates if they were given two additional weeks to campaign in 2002? How about moving the primary elections back to February so there will be more time for the general election candidates to debate the issues over a longer period of time? In the end, that will help voters be able to better decide who to vote for.

House bill 3042 and House bill 3107
Requires that beginning in 2003, elections for school boards in South Carolina must be nonpartisan and seeks to amend the state constitution to make the office of state superintendent of education a position appointed by the governor instead of elected by the people.


Education can and should be a non-partisan issue. Realistically, though, since an enormous amount of the state budget goes towards education, it usually ends up being a hot political topic during elections. Additionally, there are enormous philosophical differences between Republicans and Democrats regarding education. Voters need to know what kind of candidates they are voting for when they go to the polls to elect members of their local school boards and their state superintendent of education. These bills would be a disservice to the voters of South Carolina.

House bill 3043
State Rep. Ronnie Townsend (R-Anderson)
Requires any change to school start dates in South Carolina be determined by the General Assembly.


Letís let the General Assembly decide when school starts back in the Fall! Of course, they will most likely give in to the tourism industry in the state and have school start back in September after Labor Day. If it helps generate additional income for South Carolina, then I say go for it! The kids will still be out of school by late May, just in time for summer vacations. This bill makes cents (and dollars for our stateís economy)!

House bill 3053
State Rep. Ralph Davenport (R-Spartanburg)
Reduces all state marginal tax rates by 1 percent for a range of 1.5 percent to 6 percent rather than 2.5 percent to 7 percent.

REACTION: :-)!!!!!

Anyone who proposes a DECREASE in taxes should be given a medal of honor! Even a meager one percent reduction in taxes will provide some much needed relief for hurting families who are struggling to pay their tax bill each year. This will give those people more money in their pocket to use on necessities.

House bill 3066
State Rep. Herb Kirsh (D-York)
Reduces at the rate of 1 percent a year, the 5 percent state sales tax on food.

REACTION: :-)!!!!!!

Ditto what I said on the previous bill regarding tax relief! Phasing out the food tax will help families who need all the help they can get on buying food for their family. The only thing I would add to this bill is adding to the sales tax phaseout both medicine and education expenses. This will especially help low-income families.

House bill 3070
State Rep. Bubber Snow (D-Williamsburg)
Requires utilities or their subsidiaries to offer customers for a rental fee not to exceed $10 dollars a month the option of renting a cellular phone that only has the capability of dialing "911" or another comparable emergency phone number in cases of emergency.


This bill is a crock and a scam benefiting only the cellular telephone companies. I would not put it past the major cell phone companies to charge a $9.99 a month fee plus hidden charges for this ďemergency phone.Ē Why bother with that? Anyone who has a cell phone can call 911 for free already. What good would this bill do other than reward the already devious business tactics of cell phone companies? No, we donít need this bill to pass at all!

House bill 3074
State Rep. John Graham Altman (R-Charleston)
Makes it illegal for a person on public assistance to purchase a lottery ticket.


Do you really need a bill to make this happen? Actually, yes. Statistics have already proven that the #1 purchaser of lottery tickets in South Carolina are people who make less than $20,000 a year. It is sad that we need a bill to keep people on welfare from playing the lottery. But we dangle it in their faces like a carrot and expect them not to play. But I only have one question to ask: HOW ARE THEY SUPPOSED TO SUPPORT EDUCATION IF THEY CANíT PLAY THE LOTTERY?

House bill 3084
State Rep. Scott Talley (R-Spartanburg)
Enacts the Youth Access to Tobacco Prevention Act of 2003, which seeks to prevent minors from using tobacco.

REACTION: :-)!!!!!

Smoking is addictive and is not a healthy habit for our children to pick up. However, if the General Assembly helps prevent kids from becoming smokers and they also enact a massive tax increase on cigarettes, how do they expect to sustain the revenue flow for the state? Whatís next? Is there going to be a tax on the very air we breathe? Donít laugh, itís coming!

House bill 3100
State Rep. Joe Brown (D-Richland)
Allows police officers to stop a driver of a motor vehicle for violations of the state seat belt law.


ďIím sorry I didnít make it out to your house in time to stop that man from robbing you. You see, I was stopping people for not wearing their seat belt and that took up most of the time during my shift. I would have apprehended that man in the ski mask, but I had bigger fish to fry with those menacing criminals who neglected to fasten their seat belts. We have to keep our neighborhoods safe from these dangers to society, you know!Ē

House bill 3101
State Rep. John Scott (D-Richland)
Eliminates the $300 cap on sales tax for sale or lease of motor vehicles.


This is an excellent way for South Carolina to bring in a lot more revenue. I never have understood why there was a $300 cap on sales tax for the purchase of a vehicle. It did not make sense to charge the same amount of sales tax for a beat up Yugo as you would a brand new Mercedes Benz! Passing this bill into law will result in higher revenues for the state that will help alleviate a lot of the budgetary problems we are now facing. However, just as smokers will go to neighboring states to purchase cigarettes if the taxes are raised, donít be surprised to see car buyers do the same thing!

House bill 3120
State Rep. Ralph Davenport (R-Spartanburg)
Raises the penalties for powder cocaine to be equal to those of crack cocaine.


This is a great idea. But even more important is for the penalties for drug charges to be enforced. It is especially disheartening to read the newspaper and consistently see drug dealers and users given a much lighter sentence than they should. We need to prosecute people who use drugs and lock them away for a very long time. Handing out soft penalties to these criminals does not help them or their potential victims (too numerous to count!).

House bill 3127
State Rep. Herb Kirsh (D-York)
Allows band to be substituted for physical education instruction in high school.


Wait a minute, wait a minute! Why does band get a free pass from having to attend P.E.? I was in the band AND had to go to the gym, too. While being in the marching band certainly is exercise, I donít understand why you would want to substitute it for physical education. I think members of the band should also have to attend P.E. so they are not being shown special treatment over the other students. Whatís next? Will we make an exception to students who attend Home Economics that they do not have to attend biology? Have you ever tried making cookies after dissecting a frog?!

House bill 3132
State Rep. John Scott (D-Richland)
Seeks to amend the state constitution to change the ban on gambling by public officers so that it only applies to the governor, constitutional officers and members of the General Assembly and applies to the S.C. lottery.


Me thinks Rep. Scott misses going to Harrahís to play the slot machines and a little poker, hmmmm?

House bill 3140
State Rep. James Smith (D-Richland)
Deals with eliminating unwanted commercial e-mail, known as "spam."


As I stated in my article last week entitled Damn Spam, good luck making this happen! Iím not sure there is anything our state government can do to prevent Internet spam from plaguing our e-mail. It very well may be a waste of time and money to deal with this problem. While youíre at it, see if you can prevent any ice storms or hurricanes from ever coming back to South Carolina, too!

House bill 3155
Rep. Ralph Davenport (R-Spartanburg)
Seeks to amend the state constitution to require voters to approve any state tax increase.

REACTION: :-)!!!!!!!!

HALLELUJAH! The angels in heaven are singing at this proposal. Rather than allowing the agenda of our individual lawmakers to determine whether they get more of our money to spend, this bill would require the General Assembly to bring any tax increases to the voters. However, rather than having the voters approve or disapprove of tax INCREASES, why not allow voters to approve or disapprove of tax DECREASES, too? Taxes serve a good purpose in government, but taxpayers should be able to keep more of their own money while lawmakers need to become better stewards of the money they are allotted. Putting the power of lowering taxes into the hands of the voters will keep the General Assembly from getting out of control.

These are some of my thoughts on the bills that will be considered by the South Carolina General Assembly in 2003. What do you think about these issues? Do you agree or disagree with my commentary? CLICK HERE and share your thoughts!

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