Do you think $216 million is a fair price for your parental rights? Some politicians think so.
House leadership put forward Amendment 1A to H.3579 and called it a "reform bill," but they left out the reform part. Somebody had to call them on their hypocrisy.
The anti-sharia bill was changed at the last minute with very confusing legalese, and then fast-tracked. Bad idea.
I've co-sponsored Rep. Bill Chumley's H.3022, in defense of South Carolina's constitutional and Biblical definition of marriage: a union between one man and one woman. You can hear a snippet from my speech a rally on the State House grounds on Saturday, Feb. 28th at the 15:21 mark.
This bill does the following:
- No state or local taxpayer funds or governmental salaries may be paid for an activity that includes the licensing or support of same-sex marriage
- No state or local governmental employee officially shall recognize, grant, or enforce a same-sex marriage license
- If an employee violates this bill, the employee must not continue to receive a salary, pension, or other employee benefit at the expense of the taxpayers of this State
- If a judicial officer violates this bill, that judicial officer is disqualified from office
Below is an excerpt from my speech on the State House steps at the Gun Rights Across America rally on Saturday, Feb. 28th 2015. Thanks to Evan Mulch for recording and posting the video.
America has a double layer of national defense: an official military, and an armed citizenry that is willing to fiercely defend our own lives and property equally against invasion by foreign enemies or by the agents of our own government.
Only a Hitler, Stalin, Mao, or Obama would distort these words:
A well regulated Militia, being necessary to the security of a free State, the right of the people to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
Today, your own state government infringes on your right to keep and bear arms. You are required to ask your state government for permission before you may carry a concealed weapon in self defense. Getting this plastic permission slip can be a lengthy, six-month process that costs money and hours of your time. This is wrong.
No government licensing program will keep guns out of the hands of the criminal and the deranged in our society. What it will do is make government fatter and discourage responsible, law-abiding citizens from carrying weapons for their own defense.
Enough is enough. Last week, I filed House Bill 3716, the “South Carolina Constitutional Carry Act of 2015.” When this bill is enacted and signed by the Governor, if you want to:
- Concealed carry: CWP not required
- Park in or under the Capitol grounds: CWP not required
- Concealed carry on private property: CWP not required
- Park on school grounds: CWP not required
- Concealed carry at rest stops: CWP not required
- Concealed carry while hunting: CWP not required
- Judicial carry: CWP not required
- Retains CWP for reciprocity
I need your help getting this bill out of committee and onto the House floor for an on-the-record vote. Please contact Chairman Greg Delleney and ask for a hearing and committee vote to be scheduled as soon as possible.
I’ve had my education and intelligence insulted, just for daring to ask candidates if they complied with Article VI, Section 2 of the South Carolina Constitution.
Why I filed H. 3077
Sometimes efforts to fix a problem actually make the problem worse.
Buried in a package of 15 rules changes that were quickly adopted by the House on a voice vote during the organizational session on December 2nd was an amendment to House Rule 4.16 which banned legislators from having a “Leadership PAC.” I do support the notion that House and Senate leadership should not be allowed to wield the power of a large PAC as a carrot or as a stick over the members of the body in which they preside the way former Speaker Bobby Harrell did.
Sadly, this new rule does not accomplish it’s stated purpose.
Notwithstanding Section 8-13-1340, a member of the House shall not, directly or indirectly, establish, finance, maintain, or control any entity including, but not limited to, a noncandidate committee that receives or makes contributions as defined in Section 8-13-1300. This rule does not apply to a candidate committee or a legislative caucus committee.
I filed H. 3077 to strike this new rule for the following reasons:
1. Nothing is said about “leadership.” This doesn’t ban leadership from having PACs, it bans all members from having PACs. Why shouldn’t House members be able to raise money to help their friends out, or to oppose their enemies? After all, that’s exactly what our own former Sen. Jim DeMint did with the Senate Conservatives Fund, which played a significant role in the elections of 2008 elections of Sen. Marco Rubio and Sen. Pat Toomey, and the 2010 elections of Sen. Mike Lee and Sen. Rand Paul. As DeMint famously said, “I would rather have 10 Marco Rubios than 30 Arlen Specters.” Would any conservative argue that replacing Charlie Crist, Arlen Specter, and others was a bad thing for DeMint to have done?
2. Nothing is said about “PACs.” The actual term this rule uses is a noncandidate committee, which could, conceivably, advocate for or against issues as much as for or against candidates. In fact, South Carolina has no legal definition at all for a “PAC.” This blurry line cannot be fixed in a House rule; it will have to be addressed statutorily.
3. This rule specifically exempts legislative caucus committees. Caucus committees are essentially “super” PACs with different rules and higher contribution limits. The current Republican Caucus chairman also happens to be House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister. The Speaker of the House, Jay Lucas, also has outsized influence on Republican Caucus decisions by virtue of his position. If we don’t want leadership getting involved in each others races, then why exempt caucuses? It's worth noting that the House Republican Caucus did contribute to several House incumbents who had challengers in the 2014 primary.
You may dislike the role money plays in politics. I understand that. However, if allowed to stand, this new House rule will not reduce the role money plays in SC politics, rather, it will put more of it into the hands of House leadership. To use a crude analogy, it is like disarming legal gun owners while allowing thugs and criminals to walk the streets with guns.
Sometimes you have to fight fire with fire. That’s what I’m doing with H. 3077.
You would think that passing resolutions which basically say "follow the law" would be pointless. Unfortunately, the South Carolina Legislature has not been following two specific laws pertaining to the State budget: funding the Local Government Fund, and holding joint, open budget hearings on the Governor's budget. I plan to introduce two resolutions addressing these issues (see below) at the upcoming Delegation meeting. You're welcome to attend:
Anderson County Legislative Delegation Meeting Friday, Dec. 5th at 6pm Ronald P. Townsend Government Building 2404 North Main Street Anderson, SC
The Local Government Fund
Act 171 of 1991 created the Local Government Fund which some counties rely on to provide services. The act requires the fund to consist of 4.5% of the previous year's tax revenues. Since 2007-2008 we've slashed the Local Government Fund by over $343 million, incentivizing local governments to double-tax their citizens to make up the shortfall.
In short, rather than pass on all of the tax dollars to which local governments were entitled by law, the state chose instead to keep part of those dollars.
The message sent to local governments was clear: the State is only willing to tighten its belt so far. Good luck tightening yours.
The Budget Process
Sections 11-11-90 and 11-11-100 of state law requires the House and Senate budget committees to convene jointly in public hearings to receive input on the budget. Not any budget, though: the Governor's budget.
Why does this matter? The South Carolina Policy Council explains:
When the budget becomes entirely a product of the legislature, as it is currently in South Carolina, it’s no longer a coherent spending plan based on the needs of the state as a whole; it’s rather a collection of spending items, many of them duplicative, meant to benefit local and regional constituencies, without regard for what benefits the entire state. The governor is the one public official in the budget process who is elected by the entire state; he or she is accountable to the Upstate, the Midlands, the Lowcountry, the Pee Dee, and everywhere in between. The law’s requirement that the executive budget be used as the first draft, therefore, makes sense.
When you think about it, the current practice of the House and Senate writing their own budgets separately without regard for each other or the Governor's budget may have much to do with why some parts of the state are better cared for than others in areas like road and education funding.
It's also inefficient. Why should state agencies, the media, and the public have to navigate multiple, sometimes simultaneous, subcommittee hearings--not once, but twice--to have input in the budget process, when state law has already outlined a clear and simple budget process which calls for the Governor, House, and Senate to work jointly?
What does the SC Legislature have to lose by adopting this streamlined process?
Don't Play God
Some lawmakers do not like these laws. They describe them as "antiquated," "unnecessary," or even "unconstitutional." Many of these arguments are in my view thinly-veiled arguments for the status quo and hold no weight.
One's personal feelings about the demerits of a state law does not give lawmakers the option to ignore said law. If a law is poorly thought out, inefficient, or no longer appropriate, it should be amended or repealed, but it may not be ignored. Lawmakers cannot play God.
In an effort to raise awareness and support among the SC Legislature for these issues, I plan to introduce two resolutions at the Friday, Dec. 5th meeting of the Anderson County Legislative Delegation. You can read the resolutions below.
This meeting will be held at 6pm at the Ronald P. Townsend Government Building on 2404 North Main Street, Anderson, SC. You are welcome to attend.
My #1 priority will be to fix our roads. Yesterday at the First Monday Club in Anderson I had the opportunity to ask Governor Haley about the roads issue, and particularly my goal to have the DOT placed under the Governor’s office and eliminate two duplicate, unelected boards.
Gov. Haley wholeheartedly endorsed the idea and then went on to add:
“We don’t have to raise taxes to do it. The money is there.”
Click to hear her full answer
Governor Haley is right: we can do this without raising taxes. I am happy that she supports my solution to fixing our roads and I look forward to working with her in Columbia!
The SC Policy Council published this budget analysis last week.
One would think that if transportation funding were actually a priority, lawmakers would prioritize the taxes already collected for the purpose of repairing roads and bridges. Yet as much as lawmakers have taken the House and Senate floor to plead for more money for transportation, the budgets passed in both chambers don’t reflect this supposed concern.... The money is already there; only it’s being spent on corporate welfare and pork-laden earmarks.
We found at a bare minimum $644 million not currently in the Department of Transportation budget that could be transferred to the department.
- Department of Commerce: $65,277,555. Even when not including federal funds, over $65 million budgeted for the Department of Commerce could be transferred to DoT with no harmful effects. State government does more harm than good by redistributing wealth from taxpayers to state-selected companies, as much of the money allocated is budgeted to do.
- Rural Infrastructure Authority: $27,550,000. Essentially another arm of the Department of Commerce, this new agency doles out money for local projects that bureaucrats then appropriate.
- Capital Reserve Fund: $127,791,525. Often used as a slush fund for lawmakers to fund pet projects, this money could be spent on actual capital projects – like fixing roads and bridges. Instead, they decided to fund things like:
- The Deal Closing Fund (plain ol’ corporate welfare): $24.9 million
- Locate SC Site Inventory: $6 million
- “Office of Innovation”: $1 million
- Department of Commerce “Research Initiatives”: $4 million
- Sesquicentennial State Park Splash Pad: $500,000
- Infrastructure Bank Board: $150,453,276. Although this money would be spent on “transportation,” it would be spent based on the skewed priorities of the board that has a history of funding very few counties, and road expansions, not repairs. Money is also put in this agency so it can be bonded at a much higher rate than it can in the DoT budget.
- Non-recurring Provisos (From FY14 Surplus): $187,275,934. Although it’s not prudent to rely on “one-time” money to fund major state functions, if lawmakers were serious about their concerns for transportation spending, they’d use these funds in conjunction with others to fund transportation needs. These are just a few examples-mostly from the Senate budget they decided to fund instead:
- Partnerships for Innovation-TransformSC: $200,000
- Deal Closing Fund (corporate welfare): $12.4 million
- SC Council of Competitiveness: $750,000
- Sports Development Fund: $2 million
- Congressional Medal of Honor Bowl: $100,000
- Historic Columbia-Woodrow Wilson Family Home: $600,000
- Southeastern Wildlife Expo: $200,000
- Marion County Workforce Development Training Facility: $500,000
- U. of Charleston-Purchase of Surplus State Property: $2 million
- Multi-Purpose Business/Entertainment/Sports Complex-City-County of Spartanburg: $380,000
- “The Money Tree”: $86,000,000. The Board of Economic Advisors recently added roughly $86 million to the state’s next fiscal year, thus giving lawmakers more money to “work with.” Although Governor Haley argued in the widely ignored executive budget that the money that falls from this “money tree” should be used for transportation, it’s unclear what lawmakers will use it for. However, it could be assumed that the House will use this extra money to help conform to the budget that the Senate desires (to avoid a conference committee).
- Legislator Pay Raises: $2,000,000. Although the additional $1,000/month for in-district expenses would be optional, the budget will need to cover the full amount since lawmakers can be counted on to take the full amount. (Remember, in-district expenses at the present level are “optional,” too.)
If lawmakers really valued funding transportation, they could easily use these items to accomplish that end. The money is there if they want to use it. They would just have to give up their raises, pork projects, the power to hand out corporate welfare. Don’t hold your breath.