Friday, December 29, 2006

Thursday, December 28, 2006

Pre-filed Bill S. 0127 age of consent

This bill removes mistake of age as a defense to criminal sexual conduct with a minor. It strikes the exclusion of people under 18 from liability under this section. This is the "Romeo Provision" that was added at the last minute of last session. It returns the age of consent at 17 years old. Basically, this draft gets things back in line with how most people expected it to be in Jessica's Law. This change was added in the Jessica’s law ping pong on the last day of 2006 and this bill will correct that flaw.

Wednesday, December 27, 2006

Brownback visits Anderson

Last week Sen. Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) was in town visiting the Campbell Veterans Nursing Center. I’ve always been impressed with Brownback as he is one of the few potential presidential candidates that’s on the mark with fiscal & social issues. Cato gives him an 86%.

Does he have a chance entering this late? With Romney & McCain swatting at each other, maybe so. Wonder if "upstate voice" knows who Howie Rich is supporting?

The first picture is with the Chaplain and the other picture is with L-R Heyward Hilliard (Administrator), Brownback, Me, Sen. Jim DeMint.

Friday, December 22, 2006

politically correct seasons greetings

For My Conservative Friends: Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!
For My Liberal Friends: Please accept with no obligation, implied or implicit, my best wishes for an environmentally conscious, socially responsible, low-stress, non-addictive, gender-neutral celebration of the winter solstice holiday, practiced within the most enjoyable traditions of the religious persuasion of your choice, or secular practices of your choice, with respect for the religious/secular persuasion and/or traditions of others, or their choice not to practice religious or secular traditions at all. I also wish you a fiscally successful, personally fulfilling and medically uncomplicated recognition of the onset of the generally accepted calendar year 2007, but not without due respect for the calendars of choice of other cultures whose contributions to society have helped make America great. Not to imply that America is necessarily greater than any other country nor the only America in the Western Hemisphere. Also, this wish is made without regard to the race, creed, color, age, physical ability, religious faith or sexual preference of the wishee. By accepting these greetings, you are accepting the aforementioned terms as stated. This greeting is not subject to clarification or withdrawal. It is freely transferable with no alteration to the original greeting. It implies no promise by the wisher to actually implement any of the wishes for herself/himself/others, and is void where prohibited by law and is revocable at the sole discretion of the wisher. This wish is warranted to perform as expected within the usual application of good tidings for a period of one year or until the issuance of a subsequent holiday greeting, whichever comes first, and warranty is limited to replacement of this wish or issuance of a new wish at the sole discretion of the wisher.

Thursday, December 21, 2006

Pre-filled Bill S. 0128 removes political party’s notification requirement

This bill takes out the requirement for political parties to place ads in the newspaper when the information is posted on party’s web site. Currently, all political parties in each county are required to purchase ads in a newspaper with daily circulation for things like candidate filing, precinct reorganization, etc. I would like to end this requirement if the party posts these announcements on the party’s website. The requirement has good intentions, but in the day of electronic notification, we would all agree that this is an obsolete obligation.

Monday, December 18, 2006

Pre-filed Bill S. 0085 municipal utilities

This bill will requires any rate increase that a municipal utility would like to impose on customers outside of the municipality's corporate limits must be approved by the Public Service Commission. This would put all utilities operated by municipalities serving customers outside the boundaries under the jurisdiction of the PSC.

In '04 I cosponsored legislation that would guarantee equal rates for all customers. After nearly 2 years of negotiations with city representatives, I decided to try a different angle.

In my district, I have constituents that purchase water from the City of Anderson that live outside the city limits. They are charged higher rates than the residents living within the city limits. Some cry “taxation without representation”. Are these rates justifiable? That’s debatable, but the PSC has a proven record of fairness.

This legislation would apply to all utilities owned by municipalities serving customers outside of the political boundary.

The attached documents reveal a promise made that was not kept. Back in 2001, when the city was trying to purchase the system from Duke power, they gave us the promise that there would be no dual rates.

Friday, December 15, 2006

Pre-filed Bill S. 0087 motorboat noise

My libertarian streak doesn’t want to limit the egotism of boat owners, but so many residents on our lake’s pristine waters are being disturbed. This bill would make it punishable to alter the manufacturer’s original muffler system and only effects Lake Hartwell.

Wednesday, December 13, 2006

visit with 3rd graders

On Wednesday morning I was invited by my nephew to visit his 3rd grade class in Augusta. We chatted for awhile about government, laws, and politics. Interestingly, this is the 2nd invitation I've had from 3rd graders in 2 weeks. Might it be that I'm more comfortable on their level?
At one moment I thought I was with much older students. I asked a question, "what does the bible say about government?" A young lad answered "the government will be on his shoulders." I was very impressed with this answer. He is referring to the Old Testament author, Isaiah, as he is prophesying the incarnation. This bible passage is also found in Handel's Messiah.
Isaiah 9:6 - For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given: and the government shall be on his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counselor, The mighty God, The everlasting Father, The Prince of Peace.
What a great reminder that Jesus is the King of Kings and the “Reason for the Season”. Merry Christmas!

Monday, December 11, 2006

American Concrete gets tread on

I went to the Anderson City Council meeting on Monday night to show my support for constituents that own American Concrete. A few years ago, the company was pressured into signing an annexation agreement before getting their water turned on (The city owns the water company and this is the normal practice for water customers outside the city limits.) Not weighing the potential taxing burden the agreement was signed.

There are several disturbing issues with this utility annexation scheme going on:

1-The City Council is overlooking the fact that a tenant signed the agreement and the owner of the property did not.
2-The City charges water customers outside the city limits over twice the rate of those customers that live in the city. Taxation with out Representation; tea anyone?
3-The city doesn’t seem to be interested in annexing the nearby mill neighborhoods. These low income folks need the services much more than anyone else. Apparently, they will loop around to Camellia Drive and go after Loblolly Pines and Hunter’s Glen. I don’t have any proof of these plans, but my hunch does make sense. They want areas that need little services and generate lots of dollars. Can you imagine the revenue if they can get to Lake Hartwell?

The Council voted unanimously in favor of annexation on first reading. The resolution must get the necessary 2nd & 3rd readings. Let's hope they change their minds even though they are licking their chops over a possible $20,000 or more tax collections. If this hit doesn’t put American Concrete out of business, they will probably need to move. Who cares if your city limits are inching towards money! Keep the pace slow so only a few people get upset as each fingerling extends. Remember the frog won’t jump out of the pot if the water is slowly heated up.

Even if the agreement was legitimate, should a municipality be able to black-mail folks into annexation in order for them to get their water? Unfortunately this practice is legal and happens every day in several areas of the state, but I don’t think it is fair.

Your thoughts?

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Veteran Funeral (James Davenport) photo by Devin Rubinstein

Anderson displayed its true grit on Friday afternoon (12.11). As the family of James Davenport, fallen hero in Iraq, was saying goodbye to their slain son, thousands of Andersonians lined Main St. as the procession went through downtown. Two ladder trucks from the Fire Department were holding a large American flag. Our pharmacy’s parking lot was full of supporters as well as the very large Ingles parking lot across the street. Patriots either placed their right had over their heart or saluted the funeral procession.

The rumor of a protest was in the air, yet fortunately, the Fred Phelps wackos didn’t show up. You may have heard of these nuts from Kansas that have been protesting at the funerals of fallen soldiers.

Last session bill H. 4965 sailed through the SC House 105-0 and Senate 44-0 outlawing the protesting of funerals. Since the law took effect on June 14, any shenanigans would have brought on criminal charges.

We offer many thanks to the family of James Davenport. Your ultimate sacrifice for our freedom will always be remembered. Also, thank you Anderson for showing so much support!

Thursday, December 07, 2006

DeMint blocks $17 billion in spending

From World Magazine
THIS WEEK "Looking at India" December 09, 2006
Pork chops
Politics: Conservative Republicans block a last-minute spending binge by their own party Mark Bergin
With the balance of power in both chambers of Congress set to tip Democratic next month, Republicans have one last chance to wield their majority before at least two years of impotence. But GOP Sens. Tom Coburn of Oklahoma and Jim DeMint of South Carolina have forced the party to forfeit that opportunity, blocking the passage of pork-laden appropriations bills. In the name of fiscal conservatism, Coburn and DeMint would rather leave the 2007 federal budget in the hands of Democrats—a biting indictment of Republican spending habits.
"There are a lot of Democrats in the Senate and the House that ran on fiscal responsibility," DeMint spokesman Wesley Denton told WORLD. "Let's see if they're going to walk the walk they talked about on the campaign trail. If they do, that's wonderful."
Critics consider that gamble foolish, a naïve bit of misplaced bipartisanship that will hand eager Democrats the chance to begin a reign of spending one year earlier than expected. But the Republican alternative, a slate of bills overflowing with nearly 10,000 earmarks, is no better. The Coburn-DeMint plan: a stopgap "continuing resolution" that will hold funding for programs at current levels until Democrats update the budget.
GOP appropriators decry the continuing resolution as a spoiler of Republican interests and a shirking of the congressional responsibility to pass a budget each year. Coburn, DeMint, and other fiscal conservatives respond with unyielding opposition to an earmark system run amok. Projects attached to the proposed spending bills include such pork as $300,000 for the Los Angeles Gay and Lesbian Center, $175,000 for the Andre Agassi College Preparatory Academy, and millions more to fix ball fields, add traffic lights, and research the Alabama horn fly.
Eliminating such earmarks for a year would save $17 billion in federal funds, prudence Coburn believes the recent midterm elections demand. "This year, in particular, pork did not save our vulnerable incumbents but helped drag them down," he said. "The challenges facing our country are too great and complex for members of Congress and their staff to continue to be distracted by endless earmarking."
Coburn contends that the Democratic sweep on Election Day did not constitute a rejection of conservative values but just the opposite—a rejection of big-government Republicans who had abandoned the party's core principles. Strong fiscal conservatives such as Sen. John Kyl in Arizona and Sen. John Ensign in Nevada cruised to easy victories while many GOP incumbents known for earmarking and spending binges suffered defeat.
Since 1998, Republicans have overseen a seven-fold increase in pork projects. Since 2001, the supposed party of limited government has increased domestic spending by almost 50 percent. More than an indictment of the Iraq war, Coburn views the election results as a collective cry of "Enough!"
While many Republicans have affirmed the party's need to recapture its thrifty identity, the notion of passing "clean" appropriations bills without earmarks failed to garner much support. "We can't wait until January when the Democrats are in charge and say, 'Now we're going to be virtuous,'" Denton said. "If we're going to have any credibility going forward at all, it has to start now."
Waiting until January to feign a change of heart would not only lack credibility but would give Democrats a chance to take the lead on earmark reform. Prominent Democratic leaders such as Illinois Sen. Barack Obama have taken strong stands against the lack of accountability within the burgeoning earmark system. Obama teamed with Coburn last year in support of a measure that will soon provide full disclosure of earmark spending in an easily accessible internet database.
Such bipartisanship reflects a common aim within both parties against Capitol Hill's covert third party—appropriators. Though some left-leaning pundits have complained that the continuing resolution is merely a Republican ruse to bog down the Democratic legislature from enacting its agenda, others view it as a chance to quickly prove that Democrats will alter Washington's corrupt culture. "Democrats may in fact spend less with their first set of appropriations bills than Republicans did," Coburn spokesman John Hart told WORLD. "The appropriators are saying the Democrats will spend more, but the facts of history don't necessarily suggest that."
Copyright © 2006 WORLD MagazineDecember 09, 2006, Vol. 21, No. 47

Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Nevitt Forest Visit

On Monday I had a great time with the 3rd graders at Nevitt Forest Elementary School. Usually students can hurl the toughest questions, but I got lucky this time. I was able to answer all of their questions. I was really impressed with the students’ knowledge of government and their graciousness. Thanks to Ms. Lori Duffle for the invitation!

Friday, December 01, 2006

Katon Dawson on GOP success

GOP wins by keeping on course
By KATON DAWSON Guest columnist (from the State 12.01.06)

The national elections on Nov. 7 were not particularly good to the Republican Party. Democrats will control a majority in both houses of Congress and a majority of governorships across the country. But while the national tide seemed to take a leftward turn, we in South Carolina succeeded on a course of conservative values.

In South Carolina we had historic victories. Gov. Mark Sanford was re-elected with the largest percentage of the vote of any candidate for governor or U.S. senator in our state in nearly a generation. Republicans swept every statewide office on the ballot, with only one exception, and that exception was the closest race in state history. We also retained our large majority in the state House of Representatives.

Why did Republicans do so well in South Carolina when our party did so poorly in most other states?

Many people deserve credit, from our thousands of dedicated grassroots volunteers to our local and county party organizations to our extremely generous donors, and most of all to our candidates themselves.

But there’s a larger message in our Republican success in South Carolina. That message is that this year South Carolina Republicans ran on the unabashedly conservative and reform agendas that are the hallmarks of our party’s successful history.

While too many Republicans around the country had to defend their records and appeared to many voters to have lost their direction, Republicans in South Carolina were able to campaign on their records of conservative accomplishments and platforms of limited government.

And while too many Republicans around the country had to try to answer for the excesses of the big-government, good ol’ boy system in Washington, Republicans in South Carolina were able to credibly make the case that we are the party of reform, ethics and optimism about the future.

Gov. Sanford deserves great credit for keeping the Republican Party a winner in South Carolina, despite the massive headwinds that we faced with the national tide this year.

With Mark Sanford at the top of the ticket, voters saw someone with a consistent record of fighting for limited government, lower taxes, less spending, education reform and a willingness to stand up to the special interests that for too long have had their way in state government.

One of the most ridiculously over-reported stories of this year was the “Republicans for Moore” effort. The election results offer conclusive proof that this tiny group of malcontents masquerading as “Republicans” had no significant support within our party, and had no impact whatsoever on the election. In Horry County, a widely but inaccurately reported hotbed of “Republicans for Moore,” Sanford increased his victory margin by a whopping 18 points. Overall, in Republican base counties, Sanford received 21 percent more votes than the typical Republican performance over the last several years.

But his victory was not limited to Republican strongholds. Sanford saw his voting percentage rise in eight counties with African-American majorities. In Marlboro County, Sanford gained almost 8 points above his 2002 performance.

As remarkable as the breadth of this victory was, it was not a solitary win for Mark Sanford. Gov. Sanford and his message helped our candidates at every level, and South Carolina Republicans won up and down the ticket.

What did South Carolina show the nation on Nov.7?

If Republicans stay true to the principles of our party — limited government, lower taxes, traditional values and embracing change rather than defending more of the same — we win. And we win not only among Republicans, but among Democrats and independents too. That’s a lesson that I hope will be learned by Republicans far beyond our state’s borders.

Mr. Dawson is the South Carolina Republican Party chairman.

Thursday, November 30, 2006

Cheap in America?

Did anyone catch Wednesday night’s 20/20 report “Cheap in America”? It was by John Stossel on charitable giving. I learned some interesting observations:
1-Conservatives give more than Liberals
2-Religious people give 4 times more than non-Religious (even to non religious charities)
3-The US Government ranks lower than many other governments in aid, yet our citizens’ personal giving is much higher than citizens from other countries.Links to the stories:

Friday, November 24, 2006

Zell coming to Furman!

Lecture: Conservative Values in American Society:
Former Senator Zell Miller (D-Ga) will focus on social issues including abortion and same-sex marriage. McAlister Auditorium. Mon. Dec. 4, 8 p.m. Free. Ticketed reception in Hartness Pavilion with the Senator at 6:30 p.m. $35 (includes reserved seating for lecture). Call 865 803 6666 for tickets. (Source - UPSTATE WEEKEND/November 24, 2006). Thank you to Tom McCall for sending me this information.

Friday, November 10, 2006

More on '08

The most interesting part of this site is the page "Can He Win?" Check it out and let me know what you think.

Tuesday, November 07, 2006

Sanford for America 2008 anyone?

11 point win in a GOP down year makes us ask, “Sanford for America 2008 anyone?”If you don’t have time to read the whole article, scroll down to the paragraph in bold text.

The Sanford Model (WALL STREET JOURNAL-October 30, 2006; Page A13)


Just when you thought that there weren't any small-government conservatives left in the Republican Party, along comes South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford, who may be the only politician in America this year under assault for governing as a fiscal tightwad. What's really unusual about Mr. Sanford's bid for re-election is that some of his most formidable adversaries are the old bull politicians in his own party.

The state's Republican Senate Finance Committee chairman Verne Smith, (LCI chairman KLB)for example, has just cut a campaign ad for Tommy Moore, the Democrat running against the governor. The ad slams Mr. Sanford for his attempts to squeeze too much grease from the state budget. Mr. Smith has evidently never forgiven him for dramatizing the legislature's overspending by holding a press conference inside the state Capitol in Columbia with two squealing pigs: one named "Pork" and the other "Barrel."

"Hey, it worked," Mr. Sanford says unapologetically of this stunt, which attracted nationwide attention. The legislature went back and cut $16 million in earmarks. He has vetoed hundreds of spending bills, including the entire budget in 2004 and 2006 -- although almost all of these vetoes were overridden by -- who else? -- the state Republican House and Senate. "If I weren't fighting the legislature on overspending, I wouldn't be doing my job," he says about this intraparty squabbling. Then he adds: "Frankly, I wish there were more of this budget strife in Washington." Words for George W. Bush to live by.

Despite the turmoil Mr. Sanford has stirred up during the past four years, he's racked up some pretty impressive accomplishments. Though his effort to phase out the state income tax was killed in the senate, he chopped the personal income tax rate on small businesses, to 5% from 7%, for the first time in South Carolina history. He took a state that was labeled a "judicial hell hole" and passed reforms, despised by trial lawyers, that will penalize frivolous lawsuits. He even cut the average wait time to get a driver's license renewal to 15 minutes from over an hour.
Mr. Sanford's real passion is school reform -- which is urgently needed in a state that ranks 48th, 49th or 50th in almost all measures of student performance. He openly ridicules the "failed monopoly" school system and for this the left has accused him of being virulently anti-public education (although school spending rose 20% in his first term). He also persuaded the legislature to approve charter schools and a private school tax credit bill -- and might have gotten more done if it weren't for his prickly personality.

This is the lingering complaint about Mr. Sanford (which he readily concedes): He "doesn't play in the sandbox well with others." Even some of the governor's first-term supporters, who at first liked the idea that this former three-term congressman would shake up the stuffy political establishment in Columbia, have come to regard Mr. Sanford as too abrasive and self-righteous.

Just last week South Carolina's largest newspaper, The State -- which endorsed him four years ago -- published a scathing denunciation charging among other things that the governor "doesn't want government to be more effective as much as he wants it to be cheaper," and that his first term has been all about "tax cuts and privatizing everything he could -- even the schools." The fiercest indictment: "He had run as a conservative . . . but [is] as close to an ideologically pure libertarian as you can get." Egads!

But with qualifications like his, it is no wonder that a number of leading conservatives across the country, disgusted with GOP gorging on pork and deficit spending, are looking at Mr. Sanford as a potentially attractive new entrant into the 2008 presidential race.

First, however, there is the little matter of re-election. Opponent Tommy Moore -- a man who boasts that he has spent half his life (28 years) in the state legislature -- is predictably attacking the governor for slashing vital services like education. Mr. Sanford is certainly vulnerable to the Democratic tide that could oust many GOP incumbents next week, but he remains admired by most voters. The latest Clemson University poll has him leading the race 58% to 31%.

Those good numbers may seem surprising, given the budget wars in Columbia and the drubbing he has taken from the media for being so aggravatingly uncompromising. But Mr. Sanford has a gift for turning liberal complaints against him into virtues with voters. After Time magazine rated him one of the three worst governors in America, Mr. Sanford openly scoffed. "All the top grades went to the tax and spenders," he laughs. "Believe me, I'm never going to win that kind of beauty contest, nor do I want to." He points out that in the same issue Time rated Ted Kennedy one of the top 10 senators in America. In South Carolina, that's enough said.

Mr. Sanford is still criticized to this day for the piggies stunt -- the House speaker claimed that he "defiled" the state capital -- but the governor says the voters have a different attitude. Breaking into a pronounced Southern drawl he says: "They tell me: 'You go bring some more pigs up there, governor. We're tired of the way they're spending our money.'"

That's the way many conservative Americans feel about Washington these days -- and why Republicans may fare so poorly next Tuesday. Political commentators such as the Washington Post's David Broder may write glowingly about how California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger has discovered the new formula for GOP governance: Toss aside ideology and sprint to the 50-yardline. But the Sanford model -- holding firm on limited government principles -- is a far more compelling lesson for how Republicans can recapture the good graces of their conservative voting base.

Mr. Moore is a member of The Wall Street Journal editorial board.

Friday, November 03, 2006

Fred Barnes in Greenville

It was refreshing to see Fred Barnes of Fox News. He spoke yesterday at a lunch held at the Commerce Club in Greenville. Topics included the GOP majority in Congress and the long list of presidential candidates. Who’s it gonna’ be? Are we going to settle for a strong social conservative with questionable fiscal policy? Will we find a spending slasher with compromised social standards? I’ve yet to find the perfect candidate. The Republican base seems to be getting more demanding. What do ya’ll think?

Monday, October 23, 2006

Marriage Amendment Forum

Monday, I spoke on the “yes” position on the Nov. 7th ballot initiative to define marriage hosted by the Alliance for Local Leadership. This definition will define marriage as the union between one man & one woman. A constitutional amendment is required to keep a liberal activist judge from throwing out current SC Law. Speaking the “no” side was Asha Leong with the SC Equality Coalition. I applaud those that will come out and passionately defend their beliefs, even if they are on the wrong side of the issue. That’s how democracy works. The Anderson Independent gave fair coverage as well as TV-4.

Sunday, October 22, 2006

Sen. Billy O'Dell Bridge Dedication

Sunday a Bridge on Highway 25 was dedicated to Sen. Billy O’Dell, who happens to be the senior senator in my suite. Interestingly, the bridge is in 3 counties: Abbeville County, Greenwood, & Abbeville Counties. Next session begins Sen. O’Dell’s service for 22 years. Congratulations Billy!

Biography: William Hamilton "Billy" [R]--(Dist. No. 4, Abbeville-Anderson-Greenwood Cos.)-- CEO, O'Dell Corp., Inc.; residing at 144 Devon Park, Greenwood; b. Oct. 11, 1938 in Ware Shoals; s. William B. and Sara Francis O'Dell; g. The Citadel, B.A., 1960; m. Aedra Gail Tisdale, 2 children, William B. and Patricia Michelle; VC, School Dist. 51, 1974-81; Dir., Southern Broom & Mop Assn., 1974; Pres., Southern Broom & Mop Assn., 1976; The Citadel Bd. of Visitors, 1981-89; Pres., Ware Shoals Chamber of Commerce, 1985; Dir., State Chamber of Commerce, 1985-88; Pres., Ware Shoals Chamber of Commerce, 1985-86; Dir., State Chamber of Commerce, 1985-88; Pres., Ware Shoals Comm. Foundation, 1985-88; Chm., Ware Shoals United Fund, 1986; VC, Abbeville Dev. Bd., 1987; Piedmont Tech. Bd. of Visitors, 1987-88; The Citadel Bd. of Visitors, 1990-91; Recipient of Palmetto Award, The Citadel, 1994; Hon. Doctor of Bus., The Citadel; CEO, The O'Dell Corp., 1997; Hon. Doctor of Bus., The Citadel, 1997; Small Bus. Legislator of the Year, 1998; Alumni Achievement Award, Camden Mil. Academy, 2000; Legislator of the Year, Dept. of Disabilities and Special Needs, 2001; Bd. of Trustees, Camden Mil. Academy, 2004; Coms.: Fin.; Gen.; LCI; Rules; Invitations; Deacon, Mt. Gallagher Baptist Church, 1977-81; mil. serv.: SCNG, 1956-58; prev. serv. in Sen. 1989-05.

Sunday Baptism

In the center of these pictures are Scott and his son Shane. They have accepted Christ as their personal savior and wanted to publicly proclaim this with baptism. It was too cold to go down to the river, so we used the YMCA pool. In the water with them is Kent McGahey (plaid shirt), one of our elders at Concord Community Church. Rich Cannerella (white shirt) was instrumental in Scott’s conversion.

Friday, October 20, 2006

Lake Hartwell Association Meeting

I briefly attended the annual Lake Hartwell Association meeting last night at the Anderson County Civic Center. Obviously, the prominent topic of discussion was the current drought and water levels. The Army Corps of Engineers has adjusted the criteria for water release rates for all the lakes on the Savannah River Basin. Hopefully these adjustments will help us up here.

Other hot topics with the lake residents are:
-property tax reform
-encourage the water compact between Georgia & South Carolina
-proper use of the PCP settlement funds by DNR
-boat noise regulation

Wednesday, October 18, 2006

WiMAX technology private public partnership possiblity

I have some information that all of my friends in blogland may be interested in. Below is information that I received from an ETV official, Ray Sharpe about a new technology called WiMAX. This is a new term for me, maybe you’ve heard of it. You may be surprised to hear that our thrifty Governor is even interested in this partnership. Stay tuned, or should I say stay wired, or un-wired?

Kevin, I wanted to share with you what happened in our (K-12) governor's budget hearing today. Moss was questioned by the Governor about ETV's plans for the digital transition of it's instructional channels. ETV is developing plans for an exciting, new wireless broadband initiative called ETV’s Educational Broadband Service (EBS). Through a public-private partnership, this new service could conceivably create a wireless broadband service for our state. One technology that can make this all possible is WiMAX. Many in the commercial industry believe WiMAX is the next revolution in wireless.

WiMAX is an acronym that stands for Worldwide Interoperability for Microwave Access, a certification mark for consumer products—laptops, PDA’s, next generation cell phones. WiMAX is a new wireless technology that provides broadband connections over long distances (not to be confused with weaker Wi-Fi signals found in hotel and coffee shop “hot spots”). WiMAX can be used for a number of applications, including "last mile" Internet broadband connections, hotspots and cellular backhaul, and high-speed enterprise connectivity for business.

With ETV’s planned transition of its 67 instructional, closed-circuit ITFS channels to the new digital EBS standard, ETV can utilize and lease this spectrum for WiMAX availability all across South Carolina. ETV is planning to use this high-speed bandwidth for educational services to schools, state government services, and, through a public-private partnership, to provide stimulus for economic development opportunities. The value of a new broadband “cloud” over the entire state would be tremendous for South Carolina and ETV.

Thursday, October 12, 2006

Thornwell Charter Slammed

The children of Laurens County suffered a blow on Wednesday from which they may not recover. The State Board of Education denied the appeal of the Thornwell Charter School by a narrow margin. Thornwell is currently a private school in the Clinton area which is closing at the end of this school year. A group of benefactors and administrators have formed a non-profit corporation to open a new charter (public) school on the grounds. The Laurens 56 public school district denied the original application of the Thornwell Charter School on August 11 on four grounds-fiscal impact, facilities inadequacy, unrealistic budget, and the legal issue of conversion from a private school to a charter school. The State Board, after hearing nearly two hours of appeal (including Sen. Danny Verdin & Rep. Jeff Duncan), ruled in favor, albeit barely, of Thornwelll on the first three issues, but sided with the district on count four. This was perhaps the most amazing finding of the Board because they had in their possession a June 1 opinion of the South Carolina Attorney General wherein the state's chief legal officer found that the Thornwell charter application is in complete compliance with the law on this issue. The opinion states that, "...there is no conflict with Section 59-40-210 [the law on private-charter conversion] in such planned opening of the charter school..." The Board simply decided that the Attorney General does not understand the law.

As a member of the South Carolina Senate, I can assure you that no one in the General Assembly, even the lawyers, ever stands up and says that the Attorney General doesn't know what he's talking about. No one takes an opinion as definitive as this one, and so cavalierly disregards it as merely another argument. The Board's decision to toss aside the official opinion of the Attorney General is stunning in its presumption. The Board, acting as a court in this case, absolutely ignored the only real piece of legal evidence in its possession. The hubris displayed by this act should deeply trouble anyone in South Carolina that cares about education.

The South Carolina Charter School Advisory Committee, which is charged with sanctioning each charter school application, declared the Thornwell application as one of the best it has ever reviewed. Nonetheless, Laurens 56 hired a top Columbia law firm, Halligan and Childs, at a cost that surely ranged into the thousands of dollars, to fight the effort of children and their parents to create an innovative learning experience. If this charter application cannot pass muster, none ever will.

This case is not about vouchers or "sending public money to private schools". It is about public school choice, the very thing that defenders of the status quo claim they support. Obviously, they do not. The defenders of the status quo, in this case Laurens 56 and a majority of the State Board of Education, slammed the door on the hopes and dreams of children in Laurens County. This was an injustice.

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Nov. 7 Ballot Referenda

Below are the 7 items that will appear on the Nov. 7th ballot. If you would like to see the full wording of the questions and the official explanation, go to:

Question 1 Defines marriage as one man and one woman (I’ll vote yes)
Question 2a Allows for the Senate to reorganize before January (I’ll vote yes)
Question 2b Allows for one legislative body to meet without the other (I'll vote yes)
Question 3a Expands Retirement System Investments (I'll vote yes)
Question 3b Abolishes Investment Panel (I’ll vote yes)
Question 4 Assessment Cap (I'll vote yes)
Question 5 Eminent Domain (I'll vote yes)
(some have explained that referenda is more appropriate than referendums)

Friday, October 06, 2006

Newt Gingrich Wednesday Night

I attended the Upstate Republican Party (a coordinated effort of the Greenville, Spartanburg, and Anderson Republican Parties) rally on Wednesday evening where Newt Gingrich spoke to a crowd of over three hundred enthusiastic Republicans. The enthusiasm warmed my heart, and if we can garner even half that energy on election day Republicans will return to Columbia in record numbers.
One thing we’ve always known about Newt is that he tells it like it is. One of the reasons Newt is so effective is that he knows how it is. Newt began his speech by addressing the Mark Foley situation in D. C. He absolutely condemned Foley, but reminded us all that twenty years ago, when faced with an eerily similar scenario, Democrats not only supported like offenders but applauded them in their caucus.
Newt then moved on to the war on terrorism, and set the scene of Nancy Pelosi becoming third in line as commander-in-chief. He recounted, in detail that only comes from intimate knowledge, the series of failures whereby the Clinton administration, including both Bill and the president, abandoned their responsibility to defend this nation.
The Speaker then discussed health care with an acumen only an expert can muster. He examined the government’s monopoly in the form of Medicaid by proposing analogous government takeovers of auto sales other consumer choices. It was funny, but it also reminded us of the difference between Democrats (mostly liberals) and Republicans (usually conservatives). The former think government is the solution, the latter think freedom is the solution.
Gingrich delivered the best speech I’ve heard in a while. If he’s not the smartest guy running (as officially as anyone is running right now) for president, then I’m waiting to see his equal. I'm disturbed with Newt's own baggage, but for sheer intellect, guts, and plain speaking, Newt is a leader for conservatives in America.

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Robert Bosch 100th year in the US!

Wednesday afternoon (10/4) I was honored to take part in the 100th year celebration of Robert Bosch Corporation which happens to have 1300 associates employed in my district. At our Anderson plant, they manufacture 13 products, one of which is an oxygen sensor for several automobile manufactures (pictured). One interesting piece of information I learned was that 60,000 of these little doohickies are produced DAILY!

Tuesday, October 03, 2006


October 1, 2006
Contact Charlie Szrom
(219) 771-3281
Concord, NH - On Saturday, September 30, New Hampshire citizens saw the greatest outpouring of grassroots support for Senator John McCain since McCain's 2000 primary victory in the state. Activists, part of a nationwide network known as the Draft McCain Movement, came from as far away as Indiana and as close as Boston to rally public momentum for a McCain presidential run with an outreach effort at the New Hampshire State Republican Convention.
"Granite Staters responded very positively to our efforts," said Charlie Szrom, Draft McCain Movement chairman. "So many folks wanted 'Draft McCain for President' T-shirts that we ran out of them in the first 90 minutes and had to write down mailing addresses to get apparel to all of the McCain supporters there."
"No other prominent contenders for the 2008 GOP nomination had grassroots efforts there, while we had 8 volunteers from across the country," said Szrom. "The scale of and response to our presence shows that Americans want McCain, more than anyone else, to be their next president."
Activists staffed a literature table, passed out materials highlighting how McCain best represents Republican interests, and conversed with convention delegates on the virtues of encouraging McCain to run. The Draft McCain Movement held its first grassroots event at the Iowa Republican Convention in June, has State Coordinators in 14 states, and has registered with the FEC as a Political Action Committee (PAC) under the name "Committee to Draft John McCain."
Photos from the event can be found at The Draft McCain Movement's success stands even larger given that the general election in 2008 is still two years away; one can easily imagine such grassroots enthusiasm multiplying many times over in the next 24 months.

Anderson GOP BBQ, Awards Bennie Sue West

Monday night was spent with 300 of my closest friends at the annual Bronze Elephant BBQ for the Anderson County Republican Party. Many candidates spoke to rally the troops for the upcoming election. Rep. Michael Thompson and I were given the honor of presenting the Annual “Ronald Reagan Faith & Freedom Award” to Bennie Sue West. She is very deserving of this award as she has been in the trenches for Republican candidates for over 20 years. Congratulations Bennie Sue!

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Inglis Ingenuity Again

I've always been intrigued with Congressman Bob Inglis's cleverness and original ideas. I just got this e-mail inviting folks for ice cream.

Help Bob Sprinkle a Little Sunshine!and eat free ice cream.
We’re so optimistic about America’s prospects that we want to sprinkle a little sunshine (with our yard signs) all over town. And we may as well have fun while we’re at it. So here’s the plan: Join us for ice cream (our treat) at one of these locations:
Saturday, September 30, 4-6 p.m.Johnson Brother’s Peach Shed6490 New Cut Road, Inman
Saturday, October 7, 4-6 p.m.Dillard’s Ice Cream Parlor504 S. Buncombe Road (Hwy 14), Greer

Check out his website and you'll see Bob jumping up behind a house door and dancing in sunglasses...That's Bob!

Tuesday, September 26, 2006


September 26, 2006
Contact Charlie Szrom
(219) 771-3281
Concord, NH – Citizens will rally at the New Hampshire State Republican Convention on Saturday to highlight the groundswell of support that Senator John McCain enjoys across the country. The activists, members of the Draft McCain Movement, hope to convince McCain to run for president in 2008 by persuading Granite Staters to throw their backing behind McCain, just as they did when they chose the Arizona Senator in the state’s 2000 primary.
"The American people need a leader who will work for pragmatic solutions that help the whole nation, not just his or her poll numbers," said Charlie Szrom, Draft McCain Movement Chairman. "We’re just average Americans who want to do our part to build momentum behind the man we believe best suited to fix our nation's problems in these challenging times."
The Draft McCain Movement is the largest and oldest grassroots group advocating for a McCain presidency in 2008. It held its first grassroots event at the Iowa Republican Convention in June 2006, has registered with the FEC under the name "Committee to Draft John McCain’, and has state coordinators in 14 states. Draft McCain Movement activists will staff a table at the convention, hand out literature, and highlight the reasons for Sen. McCain’s wide following across the U.S. through conversations with fellow attendees.
New Hampshire, with its first-in-the nation primary, has consistently played a critical role in determining the course of presidential elections. While the Draft McCain Movement may be unprecedented, presidential draft movements have existed as recently as the 2004 Draft Wesley Clark movement and as far back as the movement that convinced Dwight Eisenhower to run for president in 1952.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Marriage Amendment Lunch draws 80

On Wednesday, we had about 80 folks come out for a presentation on strategies to promote the upcoming constitutional ballot initiative for the Marriage Amendment. We heard from Rev. Brent Armstrong (Oakwood Baptist) and Mr. Steven Loughridge (Palmetto Family Council) Also, we were lead in prayer by Rev. Lloyd Robinson (Unity Baptist Church) and Rev. Ed Nelson (Cornerstone Assembly). WYFF TV-4 was on hand and gave us positive coverage.

Monday, September 11, 2006

PETA is helping Karen Floyd

I received an e-mail from the Karen Floyd campaign last week announcing a dove shoot/fund raiser in Florence on Monday. I’m always impressed to see a candidate host an event different from the traditional stump BBQ. I still love the BBQ & politics combination, however, the candidate for education superintendent has thought out of the box again.

Now, from the good folks at we learn that PETA (people for the ethical treatment of animals) has criticized Karen Floyd’s campaign for this horrific event.

I just don’t get it. In SC we learn to tote a shotgun before we walk. Does PETA actually think the open criticism of Karen Floyd will hurt her campaign? Go ahead, Karen, tally up the Bubba vote!

September 11 Remembering the attack on Freedom

Friday, September 08, 2006

Marriage Amendment Lunch 9/20

What: Marriage Amendment Lunch
Whom: All Community Leaders, Activists, Pastors
When: Wednesday, September 20 @ 12 noon
Where: Fuddruckers, Clemson Blvd/I 85, Anderson
I am hosting a luncheon specifically to discuss the upcoming ballot initiative concerning marriage. This amendment will define marriage as a union between one man & one woman in SC’s Constitution. The choice will go to the voters in the November election. The Dutch treat lunch will be at 12 noon on September 20 at Fuddruckers on Clemson Blvd. If you or someone you know would like to attend, we’d love to have you. To reserve your space, please call me at 864-202-8394 or e-mail me at If you can’t attend and would like more information, please don’t hesitate to contact me. You may also visit for more information on the amendment. Also, I’ll be distributing information flyers, bumper stickers and yard signs promoting this definition of marriage.

Friday, August 25, 2006

Vision Should Include Healthy Community

During the recent discussion of instilling a vision for Anderson County, I would like to propose including our community’s health & fitness in this vision.

There is no better way to demonstrate this vision than to participate in the Midnight Flight on Friday, September 1st. After encouragement from co-workers and the announcement of Governor Sanford’s participation, my family has also decided to enter. Presently, I am overweight and non-athletic, but as I approach 40 years old, I want to publicly make a new commitment to fitness.

Even if one is not in shape but would like to make this same pledge, consider poking along with us. We will surely be in the back of the pack, yet it will be fun. To register online, I have a link on my website Together, we can make Anderson a healthy county!

Friday, July 07, 2006

County Council Run Off Protest Denied

Mike Holden, candidate for Anderson County Council District 5 run off, made an official protest in the run off held on June27th. Michael Thompson won the run off by only 19 votes. The Anderson County Republican Party had a hearing Thursday night at the Civic Center. The Executive Committee chose to uphold the election results based on the evidence presented. I would like to commend the chairman of the Party, Mr. Rick Adkins. He meticulously studied the law and party rules and applied them as fairly as possible. I was at the hearing Thursday night representing the Hopewell Precinct.

I understand the Mr. Holden will take his protest to the next level, the SC Republican Party Executive Committee on Saturday. Let's see what happens!

Sunday, June 18, 2006

Remember Father's Day!

I’d like to encourage all of us to remember Father’s Day. I’m especially grateful to my Dad for instilling in me the honor of hard work. Whether it be pushing a broom or making serious business decision, he always taught us to respect anyone that works hard and does their best to make an honest living. Nothing irritated Daddy more than when we would insinuate that we were “above” a task like cleaning the john at the drugstore. Yep, the boss’s sons cleaned many a toilet! He also is a champion for finding wasteful spending and using money wisely; to be a responsible steward of what God has blessed us with. Daddy built our business from nothing and without borrowing any money. I’ve heard a million times “don’t spend what you don’t have” and “don’t live above your means”. One time he filled out an account application. In the section for liabilities, he took a black sharpie and wrote in bold letters “I DON'T BORROW!” I hope I can carry on these principles in my life. Thanks Daddy!

Feel free to leave some comments with memories of your Dad.

Friday, June 16, 2006

Well, the 116th Session is now over. We are in the middle of the 4 year term you blessed me with. We’ve seen many victories and some setbacks, especially in fiscal policy. If you’d like more detail on any issue, please don’t hesitate to holler!
The Good News
Charter School:
We passed legislation making is easier to create charter schools. I’ve been consistently for school choice and this creates more choices and options for parents.
Marriage Amendment: This will amend the SC Constitution to define marriage as one man and one woman. The choice will go to the voters in the November election. This measure will pass easily, but I’d like to see the Palmetto State score a resounding margin. This summer and fall I’m scheduled to speak to several congregations. Although churches are not allowed to endorse candidates, they are free to engage in ballot initiatives. Also, I’ll be distributing bumper stickers and yard signs promoting this definition of marriage.
Jessica’s Law: My first amendment (and first floor debate) was to add capital punishment to Jessica’s Law, legislation being adopted in several states calling for more strict penalties for child predators. Finally, the sentencing passed 38-4. A filibuster attempt was stifled, so now SC’s version of Jessica’s Law is now the nation’s most stringent, garnering national attention.
Eminent Domain: After the summer’s Supreme Court decision (Kelo v. New London, CN), we were prompted to review our state’s eminent domain laws. In the descending opinion, Justice Thomas complimented South Carolina’s policy; however, we found it necessary to tie up some loose ends for more assurance.
Unborn Victim Protection: A simple measure. If you assault a woman with child, and kill her child, you can be charged with murder. Will this concept urge us to devote more respect for the unborn? I certainly hope so.
Castle Doctrine: This bill removes the “duty to retreat” when faced with an intruder in your home or vehicle. It also removes any chances of prosecution or lawsuit against persons protecting their domicile with force.
Blog from the Backbench: Another interesting aspect of my service is the blog (web log) started last year. I was pleasantly surprised one day when a Democrat colleague produced me a print out of his voting record on the various amendments of the property tax debate. He had some grief that I’d left him out of a posting. I gladly corrected the post, but the main issue is that even they are watching and reading. Notice that even pot shots are allowed to remain. This is a fair and balanced outlet.
The Unfortunate News
Fiscal Policy:
The taxpayer did not fair well this year as I found myself fighting a loosing battle on most taxpayer-friendly votes. I’ve always kept in mind that the money spent down in Columbia belongs to you, the taxpayer. Unfortunately, this mentality is drowned in special interests and fans of big, intrusive, growing government. The attitude to separate fiscal from social policy is becoming irrelevant to me. Irresponsible spending is at an abhorrent level!
Tax Rebate: I thought I had a very reasonable amendment in the budget process. Since we have 1.1 billion new dollars this year, let’s return $250 million to the taxpayer? This would total to about $250 per family. At our drugstore, when a customer is overcharged, they are automatically refunded…that’s business. Oh, but not in government. My amendment was tabled 36-10! Sometimes I feel like a lone voice crying in the wilderness.
Property Tax Reform: The Senate passed a squirmy local option plan, an insult to the homeowner I couldn’t vote for, however, the final conference committee plan was a step in the right direction: What to like: 1-removes school operating expenses on your home (about 70%) 2-requires 2/3 vote of the legislature to add this tax back on your home 3-reduces sales tax on food to 3¢ 4-gives 2 sales tax holidays (on everything) after Thanksgiving What to not like: 1-leaves local & school bond property taxes on your home 2-taxes on cars and commercial property remain 3-raises sales tax 1¢
Taxpayer Empowerment Amendment: This is a simple concept. Government spending should not grow faster than population vs. inflation. In other words, why should government spending grow faster than your wallet? This bill did not see the light of day, but I introduced it as the people are demanding an end to reckless spending. Someday, the people will conquer the status quo in Columbia.
Again, I want to thank you for your support. It is an honor to serve you in the General Assembly. God has blessed us with wonderful opportunities to see real change in the democratic process. Please contact me with requests, comments, and even complaints. Have a blessed summer!

Wednesday, June 14, 2006

Primarily Primary Thoughts

List of things that surprised me in the Republican Primaries
1-Lovelace’s 35% victory? I don’t understand it. Oscar ran well, worked hard, yet lost. Gov. Sanford is getting pressed with questions like “why didn’t you win by more?” Lee Bandy with the State calls it a "serious blow to Sanford." Mark was never in danger of being the Republican nominee on the ballot. Last time I checked, you need 50% plus 1 vote. Go figure...again. Congratulations Gov!
2-Mike Campbell – I voted for Henry Jordan, after all, he did get me into politics, but the Campbell margin shocked me.
3-Cindy Wilson for Anderson County Council – I’m surprised that some actually believed that she could lose. One of these days, folks are going to realize that this genteel lady is popular with her constituents.
4-Karen Floyd - We've supported Karen and knew she'd do well, but winning without a run off with several candidates is almost impossible. Good job Mrs. Floyd!

I predicted:
1-Ron Wilson – Ron ran against a long time councilman, yet is on record for voting for several tax increases. Also, he’s quoted as saying “I’m ashamed of being a Republican.” Sorry, but those things don’t fly well in Powdersville. Congratulations Ron.
2-The Liberal Media's normal reaction- Every Wednesday after an election, we get the same editorials from our media. "We told you how to vote, you did not listen to us, therefore you're stupid." Us voters are so out of touch!

Saturday, June 10, 2006

what’s your political label?

Below is a link to a pretty cool sight. Answer a few questions and you’ll get a scoring of your position on the political spectrum. Even though I have been labeled a radcon or radical conservative, this quiz shows me on the line between the libertarian and the right conservative. Is that a radcon? Where do you fit?

Friday, June 09, 2006

Jessica's Law signing

Thursday morning I flew with Gov. Sanford to Myrtle beach to sign Jessica's Law at the Children's Recovery Center. After several states have passed Jessica's Law, Sen. Jake Knotts introduced the bill in the SC Senate. Jessica's Law deals with increased sentencing, electronic monitoring, and other issues with those that sexually assault children. My amendment called for capital punishment to be an option for convinced child rapists under eleven years old. This is a great day when the Palmetto State can send a message to all the world that we take the safety of our precious children very seriously.
(LR Sen. Knotts, Gov. Sanford, Rep. Alan Clemmons, myself & Rep. Ted Pitts. also present: Sen. Ray Cleary & Rep. Thad Viers)
Here's a link to a post with more details:

Thursday, June 08, 2006

William Wallace "Caucus"

A few of us like-minded members of the Senate have formed the fictitious William Wallace "Caucus". We're often voting against government intrusion, wasteful spending, & unecessary regulation. The founding members are Verdin, Grooms, Campsen (coined the name), & myself. How do ya'll like the logo?

Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Sen. Grooms almost drowned

A "William Wallace Caucus" family outing was almost a fatal trip for Sen. Larry Grooms. Look closely at the below picture. I've circled his shoe. He fell out of the raft, then was pinned between the raft and a rock. Fortunately, the quick response of our tour guides saved his life. The Verdin & Bryant families also made the trip.

Monday, June 05, 2006

gov. coming to anderson!

Got a call that Gov. Sanford will be coming to Anderson on Tuesday (6/6) to make some public announcements and tour some small businesses. He will also be criticizing the General Assembly for spending 1.1 billion new dollars with very little tax relief. I can't join him, but he'll be at Darby Metalworks at 12:15.

Sunday, June 04, 2006

Liberia Mission

A good friend of mine, Vinson Burdette just got back from a mission trip to Liberia.

Wednesday, May 31, 2006

jessica's law philibuster BUSTED!

Sen. Jake Knotts (R-Lexington pictured below) introduced a strike & insert amendment. This removes all the damage the SC House did to the bill then inserts the legislation that the Senate passed on March 28th. Last week the House removed capital punishment, removes "hearsay" clause, reduces minimum from 25 years to 10. Basically, the SC House "gutted" the bill. There was a failed attempt to block the vote by Sen. Phil Leventis (D-Sumter). A motion for cloture was made and passed. Below are the roll call votes:
AYES: Alexander, Bryant, Campsen, Cleary, Courson, Cromer, Fair, Gregory, Grooms, Hawkins, Hayes, Knotts, Leatherman, Martin, McConnell, Mescher, O'Dell, Peeler, Richardson, Ritchie, Ryberg, Scott, Thomas, Verdin
NAYS: Anderson, Drummond, Elliott, Ford, Hutto, Land, Leventis, Jackson, Malloy, Pinckney, Patterson, Reese, Sheheen, Williams
Not Voting or Absent: Lourie, Matthews, McGill, Moore, Rankin, Setzler, Short, Smith
On Wed May 31, the House "concurred" on S. 1267. This bill will now go straight to Gov. Sanford that has already announced his support.

Monday, May 29, 2006

the skinny on property tax

This week we are studying conference committee reports on property tax relief. I am pleasantly surprised of the outcome.
What to like:
-removes school operating expenses on your home (about 2/3)
-requires 2/3 vote of the legislature to add this tax back on your home
-reduces sales tax on food to 3 cents
-gives 2 sales tax holidays (on everything) after Thanksgiving
What to not like:
-leaves local & school bond property taxes on your home
-taxes on cars and commercial property remain
-raises sales tax by 1 cent
Sen. Jim Ritchie (R-Spartanburg) is a key participant on the conference committee. If you read my bleak postings during the property tax debate, you'll see that I did not expect this outcome, so I stand corrected.

memorial day story of courage

Taken from
Maybe you'd like to hear about a real American, somebody who honored the uniform he wears
Meet Brian Chontosh Churchville-Chili Central School Class of 1991
Husband and about-to-be father. First lieutenant (now Captain) in the United States Marine Corps. And a genuine hero, the secretary of the Navy said so yesterday. At 29 Palms in California Brian Chontosh was presented with the Navy Cross, the second highest award for combat bravery the United States can bestow.
It was a year ago (2004) on the march into Baghdad. Brian Chontosh was a platoon leader rolling up Highway 1 in a humvee. The young Marines were being cut to ribbons. Mortars, machine guns, rocket propelled grenades. And the kid out of Churchville was in charge. It was do or die and it was up to him.
So he moved to the side of his column, looking for a way to lead his men to safety. As he tried to poke a hole through the Iraqi line his humvee came under direct enemy machine gun fire. It was fish in a barrel and the Marines were the fish. And Brian Chontosh gave the order to attack.
He told his driver to floor the humvee directly at the machine gun emplacement that was firing at them. And he had the guy on top with the 50 cal unload on them.
Within moments there were Iraqis slumped across the machine gun and Chontosh was still advancing, ordering his driver now to take the humvee directly into the Iraqi trench that was attacking his Marines.
Over into the battlement the humvee went and out the door Brian Chontosh bailed, carrying an M16 and a Beretta and 228 years of Marine Corps pride.
And he ran along the trench, with its mortars and riflemen, machineguns and grenadiers. And he killed them all. He fought with the M16 until it was out of ammo. Then he fought with the Beretta until it was out of ammo. Then he picked up a dead man's AK4 and fought with that until it was out of ammo. Then he picked up another dead man's AK47 and fought with that until it was out of ammo. At one point he even fired a discarded Iraqi RPG into an enemy cluster, sending attackers flying with its grenade explosion.
When he was done Brian Chontosh had cleared 200 yards of entrenched Iraqis from his platoon's flank. He had killed more than 20 and wounded at least as many more.
But that's probably not how he would tell it. He would probably merely say that his Marines were in trouble, and he got them out of trouble. Ooh-rah, and drive on.

"By his outstanding display of decisive leadership, unlimited courage in the face of heavy enemy fire, and utmost devotion to duty, 1st Lt. Chontosh reflected great credit upon himself and upheld the highest traditions of the Marine Corps and the United States Naval Service."

by Bob Lonsberry & Mary Jones

Saturday, May 27, 2006

DeMint opposes Senate Amnesty bill

Sen. Jim DeMint Lists his “Top Ten Reasons to Oppose the Senate Amnesty Bill”
For more details on his stand:
1. Rewards Illegal Behavior with Clear Path to Citizenship and Voting Rights – Amnesty
2. Creates Temporary Worker Program That is Neither Temporary Nor Work-Based
3. Unprecedented Wave of Immigrants - 66 Million Over 20 Years
4. Insufficient Border Security
5. Terrorist Loophole Disarms Law Enforcement
6. Social Security Benefits, Tax Credits for Illegal Work
7. Costs Over $50 Billion A Year to Federal Government; States Foot The Bill
8. Hurts Small Business
9. Gives Some Immigrant Workers Greater Job Protection Than American Workers
10. Weak Assimilation/English Requirements

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Jessica's Law delayed in SC House

Yesterday, a number of members of the SC House Judiciary Committee walked out to avoid voting on Jessica's Law. Chairman Harrison has called another meeting today hopefully the bill can get on the House floor. The SC Senate passed my amendment to allow for capital punishment for child rapists receiving a 2nd conviction. The roll call vote was 38-4. The Senate then passed the bill unanimously. Should Jessica's Law pass the house in its amended form, SC will be only the 2nd state to allow for sentencing this severe. I don't understand the cowardice to leave a meeting to avoid voting on a measure. While our children's safety is in danger, we've got members of the legislature hiding.
The most popular questions asked:
1-Why are you asking for punishment this severe? When a child is raped something precious is taken from the child's soul. They will never recover, therefore, I believe that his invasion of a child warrants capital punishment, especially since the bill calls for a 2nd conviction of child rape. This also sends a message across the world, that SC does not tolerate the molestations of our kids! Will this sentencing keep perverts out of SC? I certainly hope so.
2-Does the amendment jeopardize the rest of Jessica's Law bill or our current capital punishment statutes? A "severability clause" was included in the amendment to prevent this from happening. Also, the language calls for a separate statute that may isolate this sentencing should we get a court challenge.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Lt. gov. in plane crash!

Just heard that Lt. Gov. Andre' Bauer and another passenger have been in a plane crash in Cherokee County. I'm told they survived the crash with injuries, but should recover soon. Please keep Andre' in your thoughts and prayers.

eminent domain

Is YOUR Home Safe? You've got a three-story mansion or a 30-year-old doublewide, it is your home. You work hard to pay your taxes and your bills. You try your best to keep your gutters clean and your grass mowed. You look out for your neighbors, and they look out for you. Your home is the very best that you can provide for your family. Your home has been your castle -- until now. Your constitutional rights just took a serious blow.
The U.S. Supreme Court stunned us with a redefinition of eminent domain. The town of New London, Conn., approved a private development plan designed to revitalize its ailing economy and then purchased most of the property from willing sellers. When a few homeowners refused, the city condemned their homes. The homeowners sued, claiming that seizing their properties violates the Fifth Amendment's Takings Clause. Last June the Supreme Court ruled in favor of New London. Consequently, any government entity can lawfully seize private property and hand it over to private developers.
Sen. Chip Campsen (R-Charleston) has spent that last several months crafting legislation to strengthen our state's eminent domain laws. In the wake of this shocking ruling, we are committed to addressing property rights legislation. We will not rest until the New London scenario becomes absolutely impossible in South Carolina! If you have an opinion on this or any other matter, feel free to post it!

Saturday, May 20, 2006

personal protection: castle doctrine

A subcommittee of which I sit, passed H. 4301 commonly known as the "castle doctrine". It does 3 things:
1-It establishes the presumption that a criminal who forcibly intrudes into your home or occupied vehicle is there to cause harm, therefore you may use any manner of force, including deadly force, against that person.
2-It removes the "duty to retreat" if you are attacked in any place you have a right to be. You no longer have to turn your back on a criminal and try to run when attacked. Instead, you may stand your ground and fight back, meeting force with force.
3-It provides that persons using force authorized by law shall not be prosecuted nor sued.
In short, it gives rights back to law-abiding people and forces judges and prosecutors who are prone to coddling criminals to instead focus on protecting victims.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

$180 million tax relief

Today, The Board of Economic Advisers certified $180 million additional surplus. In the budget process, you saw several failed attempts for tax relief even though the Senate increased spending by $912 million. Now the new figure is $1.1 billion, we are again proposing tax relief. Sen. Ryberg made a motion to express the desire of the Senate is to return the new funds to the taxpayer. This is simply a suggestion to the Conference Committee to remember the taxpayer as it explores options on this new money. The first priority would be in the form of property tax relief, the next choice would be for gas tax relief. It is very sad to hear the cries of taxpayers begging for relief, and in $1.1 billion, we can't find a dime to return to the over-charged taxpayer. If my rhetoric is sounding like a broken record, get used to it. I look forward to hearing from you. The motion was carried over until Tuesday...stay tuned!

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

marriage under attack...again

A simple bill to discontinue recognizing common law marriage is being filibustered by Sen. Rankin (R-Horry). A common law marriage is when the state recognizes a marriage when 2 people are "shacking up" for a certain period of time. I really don't understand. Last year we voted almost unanimously to define marriage between 1 man and 1 woman. Now we are second guessing God's most sacred institution. On a related issue, below is a draft of the bumper sticker that will be used to help gain support for the marriage amendment that you will be able to vote on in November. The SC Constitution will define marriage and voter approval is required. Do ya'll like the design?

softball senate 24 house 12

BCBS called it a "bakers dozen" being the 13th annual softball game between the SC House & the SC Senate. Well, it wasn't 13 points, but it was a pretty good lashin'. For 8 years out of 13, Sen. Greg Gregory put together a troop that was un-amendable. I don't claim to be an athelete and certainly can't claim credit for this victory, but the House Amenders were once again defeated by the Senate Filibusters.
it was all over when: Rep. Vick couldn't make it from 2nd base to 3rd base.
we lost track: President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell kept bringing Sen. Reese a plate of food every score, but the Filibusters kept scoring, so Reese couldn't keep up.
game highlights: Sen Grooms 2 boys were allowed to play. "we were so far ahead, why not?" Coach Gregory

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

straw poll results from stump meeting

Taxpayer's Association straw poll results
Gov: Sanford 77.60%, Lovelace 22.40%
Lt Gov: Jordan 36.80%, Bauer 36.80%, Campbell 26.40%
Treas: Ryberg 54.60%, Quinn 21.00%, Willis 14.30%, Ravenel 10.10%
Sec of St: Hammond 71.00%, McKown 29.00%
Sup of Edu: Floyd 71.10%, Staton 12.20%, Moffly 6.30%, Wood 3.10%, Ryan 2.30%
Ag Comm: Bell 65.30%, Weathers 34.70%
House 7: Harvell 86.90%, Gambrell 13.10%
House 8: Bowen 66.40%, Martin 33.60%
Council 1: Crowder 54.10%, Waldrep 45.90%
Council 3: Hilley 85.10%, Greer 14.90%Council 4: McAbee 49.50%, Renna 34.00%, Price 16.50%
Council 5: Gilmer 44.10%, Cothran 27.10%, Thompson 15.90%, Holden 9.90%,
Council 6: Wilson 76.10%, Dees 15.40%, Freemantle 8.50%, Council 7: Wilson 85.00%, Ashley-Barnes 15.00%

Sunday, May 14, 2006

stump meeting monday may 15 6pm

The Anderson County Republican Party will be hosting an old fashioned stump meeting at the Anderson County Farmers Market on Monday Night. Meet and greet at 5PM, the speeches will start at 6PM. Most state-wide and local candidates plan on attending.

Thursday, May 11, 2006

gas tax relief (Greg Ryberg)

I could not say it any better myself! Greg Ryberg on gas tax relief:
"This week I proudly supported Governor Sanford’s call to suspend the state gas tax over the next several months. It is estimated that this tax suspension will bring $134 million in relief to South Carolina taxpayers while encouraging tourism in our state. With gas prices on the rise and many of us paying nearly $3 a gallon, this tax relief is welcomed with open arms.

Additionally, this relief will help businesses as well as consumers. As gas prices rise, businesses are forced to pass along that absorbed cost to consumers. So not only are consumers feeling the pain at the pump, but they are also seeing rising costs at the checkout line. Suspending the gas tax will give our economy a boost and keep us all moving through the summer months.

This year our state government ran a $425 million surplus. I believe South Carolinians are overtaxed and I am committed to fighting for tax relief at all levels. It’s time we return more tax dollars to hard-working South Carolinians. After all, it’s your money."

Senator Greg Ryberg

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

real relief ko'd!

Today, those for real relief realized that true reform is dead. The bill is still the local option and moves the bill to conference committee. If this legislation dies in conference committee, it may be a good thing. The last members in the crows nest as the ship sunk were: Campsen, Grooms, Hutto, Reece, Ryberg, Sheheen, Short, Verdin, & myself. The bill passed unanimously, but my quandary is this: Do I enter a "nay" vote in the journal for principles sake? I decided to vote "nay" on the bill and "aye" on the constitutional amendment. Below is the statement recorded in the journal:

The only positive achievement of this legislation is that it succeeds in moving the debate forward to a conference committee. It alone provides little hope that property taxes will decline anytime in the near future. Indeed, this legislation simply passes the buck to the local level where, ironically, the only change in property taxes over the last several years has been their dramatic increase. We remain extremely frustrated at our inability to provide real, meaningful, across the board property tax relief to homeowners in South Carolina. We hope that the conference committee will report out legislation that does.

Monday, May 08, 2006

property tax relief keeps coming!

Duke (to Apollo about a rematch with Rocky) "He's all wrong for us. I saw you beat that man like I never saw no man get beat before, and the man kept coming after you. Now we don't need no man like that..." Rocky II

Last week I thought real reform was dead, but low and behold there is still a twinkling of a chance for relief. A motion to reconsider has a chance to pass on Tuesday. Senate rules don't allow amendments on 3rd reading, but a motion to reconsider puts the bill back on 2nd reading. It reminds me of the first house that Ann & I lived in on Millgate St. in Anderson. We had some shrubs (red tips) that we tried to cut down. If you've every tried to kill red tips, then you know what I mean. They're not dead until you dig & dig & dig the roots out. Will the Grooms plan surive? Again, I'm doubtful, but stay tuned!

Friday, May 05, 2006

Homeowner asks for a sledge hammer, Senate delivers a fly swatter!

After nearly a dozen tabling motions to kill any chance of property tax relief, it was clear that the Knotts and Grooms amendments were dead in the SC Senate. Since true reform is now just a dream, I held my nose and voted for the bill. Close to 9pm Thursday night the Senate passed a local option sales tax as described previously. This bill will now go to conference committee consisting of 3 Senate members and 3 House members. They work out the details, then send a bill to the Governor. Could the committee craft a measure similar to the House's version? Possible, but doubtful. I supported all measures in the direction of property tax relief, yet I was on the losing side each time. You may be interested in this citizen's group

Wednesday, May 03, 2006

do you feel like you're being tread on?

As I've stated before, my favorite plan has been drafted by Sen. Larry Grooms. This plan is a comprehensive overhaul of school funding in addition to property tax relief. It was evident that the proposal was very close to getting killed Wednesday night, so we voted to adjourn to give one last shot on Thursday for passage. The plan was tabled today. There were concerns with the establishment of a state wide property tax on commercial property set at 75 mills, however, the average commercial mill is 150, therefore on average, commercial property taxes would be cut in 1/2.
So far, the only proposal to pass the Senate was a plan that allows local government to eliminate property taxes and replace with a sales tax. I am not opposed to this, however, it is not near the relief we are so desperate for. If the local government does not act on this, a petition will require signatures of 7% of registered voters instead of the normal 15%.
I opposed one local option amendment that had a constitutional issue because it would require the bill to need 2/3 votes. That would kill the property tax bill entirely.

Pictured is the Gadsden Flag. Written of the rattlesnake on the revolutionary flag: "She never begins an attack, nor, when once engaged, ever surrenders: She is therefore an emblem of magnanimity and true courage...she never wounds 'till she has generously given notice, even to her enemy, and cautioned him against the danger of treading on her."

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

House plan tabled, now local option

The house plan that removed school operating expenses from homes, but did nothing for commercial, was tabled today. The only reform that has a chance to pass is the Local Option. Grooms is working on another plan, however, so we'll see if he gains support. Maybe the Groom Broom will become the Groom Swifer!

This plan will allow County Councils to give the voters of each county the choice of a sales tax increase to offset property taxes on homes. Currently, the plan only involves school operating expenses and does not include commercial property.There is one good aspect of the local option: Anderson County can fund school operation with a .9¢ sales tax. There are additional amendments that will be considered, to tweak this plan. Ever heard of the legislation process compared to the making of sausage? Stay tuned!

Grooms III property tax relief tabled

We are now on another proposal by Sen. Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley)
Keep in mind that there will be winners and losers in all property tax reform proposals. When the homeowner is the winner, I’m all ears!
Groom Broom III Highlights:
-raises cap on automobile sales taxes to $600
-removes local school operation property taxes off all classes of property
-2 cent increase in the state sales and use tax
-Deed recording fee increase
-creates statewide property tax of 75 mills for all classes of property except owner occupied homes (SC average 150 mills, so commercial property taxes are cut in half)
-the 1st motion to table failed, the 2nd motion to tabled passed

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Sanford's briar patch

All during the budget process, I along with conservatives have been screaming "stop this irresponsible spending"! Well, we fought the good fight, yet when the votes came, we failed. At the end, the big spenders win and the taxpayers lose. As I try to be optimistic in every bad situation, I have drawn one positive note in this losing song of wasteful spending and I hope you can follow my tune. Ponder this. Politically, this is a win for Gov. Sanford. He gets a big fat budget with more pork than Circle M BBQ. I'm predicting Mark throws out his rotator cuff scratching through the line-item-vetoes.
I'm not doubting Sanford's sincerity nor his spending principles, but fans of big government are throwing him into the briar patch!
"Skin me Briar Fox," says Briar Rabbit. "Snatch out my eyeballs, tear out my ears by the roots," says he, "But please, Briar Fox, don't fling me in that briar patch, ". (Song of the South)

Friday, April 28, 2006

Gov coming to Anderson! Friday 3:45 pm

Today I'm back at my real job, Bryant Pharmacy & Supply. Gov. Sanford will drop by around 3:45 to talk to folks about my amendment to return the surplus money to the taxpayer. He may even want to talk to some of my customers. He may ask them "If you were over charged at this pharmacy, wouldn't you expect Kevin to give your money back?" I'm sure the answer will be yes from every customer. Wednesday, I asked the same question to my colleagues in the Senate. Should the taxpayer get a refund since they have been over charged? Only 9 other members voted with me, so unfortunately, the Governor has only a few stops today. And the people's government refuses to give them what is rightfully theres...their money!

By the way, it is wonderful to be back in Anderson. It is much more down to earth that Columbia where common sense is not very common.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

bryant on politics rocks!

Michael Reese has added a feature to his blog "sports and politics" titled "politics rocks". He was kind enough to feature an interview with me in his debut. The 5 minute interview is mainly about the capital punishment sentencing amendment that I offered to Jessica's Law last month. Click here:

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

$125 tax rebate tabled

I offered a motion to take the surplus money, pay off the trust funds, then return all of the money to the taxpayer. Unfortunately, only 10 members of the SC Senate voted against the tabling motion: Campsen, Courson, Cromer, Grooms, Hawkins, Knotts, Peeler, Ryberg, Verdin, & myself.

This amendment if passed would send $250 million back to the over charged taxpayer. Every taxpayer would get $125 back. That's $250 per couple. That's $5.4 million per senate district.

This budget grows government by 28% over the level of just three years ago. It is clear that government can never have enough money to spend, so all I'm saying is this year let's give the extra money, just the extra money, back to the people who earn it. With this budget, we are telling taxpayers that if they send it, we will spend it.

Perhaps these taxpayers will have used their rebate to pay their property taxes, make an extra house payment, take a long weekend vacation, buy the car a new set of tires. I have asked many constituents this question: do you want me to spend your money in Columbia or return it. 100% of my constituents have told me the same thing. I want MY money back.

Unfortunately, the vast majority of mcolleagueses disagree.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Proviso could save medicaid millions! it was tabled

I introduced this proviso, yet it was tabled with only 8 members with me. -As a pharmacist, I witness wasted taxpayer money on prescription drugs on a daily basis. I would like to apply my 20 years of experience in pharmacy to offer solutions to the ever-climbing healthcare costs in the Palmetto State. Currently, Medicaid has a process called prior authorization or PA. This process is applied to some medications. In these situations, generic alternatives must be used first, and in the instance that the generic drug does not work; the more expensive medication may be dispensed. In no way is quality of care in jeopardy. If a consumer is paying cash for a product, naturally, they will try the least expensive option first. When the taxpayer is required to pay for medications covered by Medicaid, I believe we should take the same approach.

Prior Authorization is applied to many life threatening therapeutic classes with little or no problems, yet with exponential savings of the taxpayers' money. We apply the PA's to medications treating diabetes, blood pressure, esophageal reflux, and many, many more. Medicaid has 3 therapeutic classes that are exempt from prior authorization: HIV, Oncology (cancer), and mental health.My amendment removes these classes from exemption. I doubt if we'll see much money saved on oncology or HIV drugs in the near future, yet I am confident that there is much room for savings in the mental health area. Also, we spent $600 million on mental health drugs in 2005 on Medicaid. Two drugs Risperdal & Zyprexa cost us $49 million.

For example, Zyprexa can cost up to $1200 per month. If Zyprexa was placed on PA, a generic alternative such as haloperidol may be used. Haloperidol costs less than a $100 per month. If the patient does not tolerate haloperidol, then Zyprexa may be dispensed. This process would not be applied to a patient on a maintenance regimen with stable results, only new diagnoses.

This proviso does not place any medication on Prior Authorization; it allows Medicaid more options. The Pharmacy and Therapeutics Committee makes these determinations. Here's a link to their website:

We don't have an unlimited amount of funds for our Medicaid recipients and I am confident that this proviso will free up scarce Medicaid dollars for areas of need.

$1 for property tax relief tabled

Sen. Jake Knotts offered an amendment to provide $1 for property tax relief. What this amendment does is get it up for discussion should the budget get to conference committee. The House budget called for $116 million in property tax relief, yet the Senate budget calls for none. This amendment will get us some room for discussion in conference committee. The amendment was tabled. Now the conference committee can either put in $116 million or nothing.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

property tax recorded votes

There has been much discussion from all parts of the state for a list of the votes taken this week on property taxes. The link below gets you to the journals of the Senate. The roll call votes on April 18 & 19 are tabling votes. "Aye" votes are actually against property tax relief and "nay" votes are in favor of property tax relief. I voted "nay" on every vote.
-Grooms I tabling motion was the 1st vote on April 18th
-House Plan tabling motion was the 2nd vote on April 18th
-House Plan tabling motion was the 1st vote on April 19th
-Grooms II tabling motion was the 2nd vote on April 19th
-Grooms II tabling motion was the 3rd vote on April 19th
-House Plan II tabling motion was the only vote on April 20th

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

meaningful property tax reform dies in the Senate

Although I have supported every effort to slash your property taxes, they have all failed. Once again proponents of reform have lost yet another battle in the "deliberative" body of the SC General Assembly. We now have a last gasp on property tax reform. This allows for a local option to remove operating expenses from your property tax bill by local government. The author, Sen. Chip Campsen (R-Charleston) has voted in favor of all of the meaningful reform proposals.
Local Option Property Tax Relief Act
Part 1
- School Operations Relief for Primary Residences, Business Personal and Other Personal Property
-Permits a county-by-county referendum on property tax relief for school operations on primary residences, business personal and other personal property.
-Counties could opt-in to just enough county-wide increase in the sales tax to provide this relief for primary residences, business personal and other personal property (see attached sheet for how much sales tax would be required in each county)
-Either County Council or 7% of electorate by petition initiative can put the Local Option Property Tax Relief measure on the November ballot
-Would eliminate approximately 50% of total property taxes on primary residences business personal and other personal property (statewide average is 49.3% - each county will vary)
-Sales tax revenue considered a part of local maintenance of effort

Part 2 - Statewide Tax Relief from a ¼ Cent Increase to the Statewide Sales Tax
-Circuit Breaker Income Tax Credit when property tax on primary residence exceeds 5% of income - 100% refundable tax credit for households at or below the median household income in SC & 50% refundable tax credit for households above the median household income
-Income Tax Credit equal to 4% of total property tax paid on commercial/rental property
-Does not affect school funding formulas

Part 3 - Other Provisions
-Quarterly property tax payment
-New property on tax roles sooner
-Local millage cap to protect business
-Rolling reserve fund in school districts to cushion volatility in sales tax revenue
-BEA balanced