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