Friday, March 30, 2007

Thursday, March 29, 2007

ultrasound S. 84 featured on ETV "This Week in the Senate"

This morning S. 84, the ultrasound requirment, was the topic of the ETV show "This Week in the Senate" - Featuring Sen. Glenn F. McConnell of Charleston – President Pro Tempore. Guests were Sen. Brad Hutto of Orangeburg, Sen. Jake Knotts of Lexington, & myself.

Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Sen. Larry Grooms on the DOT bill

Now’s the time to really fix SCDOT (Sen. Grooms represents parts of Berkeley, Charleston, Colleton and Dorchester counties)

When’s the last time you sat idling in bumper-to-bumper traffic while your valuable time ticked away? Or were late to your destination because of poorly timed and uncoordinated traffic lights? Or slammed into a seemingly bottomless pothole and rounded a bend only to hit the brakes because of road construction?

You’re not alone. You and I and South Carolina’s 1.8 million other commuters see every day the unprecedented growth and change our state is experiencing. And as the Palmetto State grows and changes, so too must our system of roads and transportation change to meet our needs.

Yet as a recent independent audit shows, our state Department of Transportation seems trapped in the good-ol’-boy mentality of yesteryear. The Legislative Audit Council found the Transportation Department spent millions on certain road contracts without ensuring the most qualified contractor received the job. There was no evidence of how DOT negotiated contract prices; the department’s history with one engineering firm raised “questions of favoritism and ineffective management of resources” and the Transportation Department paid about twice as much as necessary to hire temporary employees, “mostly former SCDOT employees.”


Thursday, March 22, 2007

more national media on H. 3355 ultrasound bill

On Thursday night, CNN brought a truck in my driveway. I was on Paula Zahn Now at 8PM. The topic was H. 3355, a companion bill to my S. 84 which prompted Representative Greg Delleney to introduce a version in the House and here we are. Rep. Delleney’s bill, received 2nd reading on Wednesday (3/21) with a vote of 91-23, received 3rd reading Thursday 3/22 and has been referred to the Senate Medical Affairs. Chairman Harvey Peeler has agreed to allow me to serve on the subcommittee for detail work on amendments and such.

ZAHN: Should a woman who is going to have an abortion be forced to look at an ultrasound picture of the fetus before she goes through with it? We're bringing that question "Out in the Open" tonight because just hours ago, South Carolina's House passed a bill to make that law, and the state Senate probably will approve it quickly.

Abortion opponents may hope this persuades women not to go through with abortions, but supporters of abortion rights say it's just plain intimidation.

With me now, state senator Kevin Bryant, a Republican who's sponsoring the bill.

Thanks so much for being with us tonight, Senator.
To Read the Transcript:

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

transportation bill gutted

On Wednesday February 14th the Transportation Committee passed a bill with sweeping reforms. The bill gives me the impression that the department should be run more like a business and therefore more efficient. It has been said "we need more business in government and less government in business." In the real world, businesses operate on a “perform or else” standard. Small businesses are so efficient because they can make necessary changes very quickly. One reason government, especially the current DOT, is so inefficient is that change is very slow. The original bill creates a state board that chooses the projects and priorities. Also, it defines the director as being an “at will” gubernatorial appointment. The director serves at direct accountability to the governor. This issue is where the real reform rests.

On Wednesday, March 21, the bill was amended to define the director of transportation as an “at will” by the board not the governor. The board is appointed by the Governor with a huge catch. The Senate confirms these appointments as in the Santee Cooper board. We've seen problems with the confirmation process.

In my perspective real reform would define the director as a gubernatorial “at will” appointment. After the bill was gutted, I see no real reform; therefore, I can no longer support the bill. Hopefully, we will revert back to the committee's recomendations for real reform.

Monday, March 19, 2007

ultrasound bill draws national media coverage

Monday - full media day. Pictured above is the ABC News setup in our den. The interest was on H. 3355 or the Informed Consent Act, also known as the Ultrasound Before Abortion Bill.

What seems to be getting the attention of the media is the history behind this bill’s creation. In 2005, my wife, Ann, felt compelled to assist in raising the funds to purchase an ultrasound machine for the Anderson Crisis Pregnancy Center. We then learned that a high percentage of patients that get the ultrasound choose to carry the baby to full term. After learning this, we decided to introduce S. 84 which prompted Representative Greg Delleney to introduce a version in the House and here we are. Rep. Delleney’s bill, H. 3355 received 2nd reading on Wednesday (3/21) with a vote of 91-23.

Before an abortionist can perform the procedure on a patient, they must verify the baby's gestational age with an ultrasound, they must review the ultrasound pictures with the mother, and the mother must sign an informed consent that she has reviewed the ultrasound pictures. This language simply builds upon current abortion language in the code. I am told by those in crisis pregnancy centers that when an ultrasound is viewed, most patients (an estimated 85%) choose life.

Monday March 19 @ 10:00 PM -Fox 21 WHNS
Tuesday March 20 @ 6:30 PM -ABC World News Tonight
Tuesday March 20 @ 11:30 PM – ABC Nightline
Wednesday March 21 @ 7:00 AM – ABC Good Morning America
Thursday March 22 @ 8:00 PM - CNN Paula Zahn Live

Club for Growth Scores: Demint 100, Brownback 98

Click here to see the full scorecard

Thursday, March 15, 2007

Friend of the Taxpayer Award

I'm sorry you haven't heard from the backbench recently, but I'm trying to get over some kind of flu stuff. I did happen to get a picture of the award lunch from the SC Association of Taxpayers.

Stay tuned! The fever is down and the backbench will be updated with the next tricks from safety squad, DOT Reform and much more!

Wednesday, March 07, 2007

S. 67 Tying the hands of the homeowner

March 8 Labor, Commerce, & Industry Committee
S. 67 is a bill that prohibits an unlicensed installer from purchasing heating & air equipment from a distributor. On the other hand, it criminalizes a distributor from selling equipment to an individual unless they are licensed.

I have decided not to support S. 67 for a number of reasons. Most importantly, LLR is not doing a satisfactory performance of regulating licensed installers and the investigation of un-licensed installers. S. 67 placed an additional burden on LLR by forcing the agency to be responsible for distributors as well. Currently, LLR cannot enforce regulations on an unlicensed entity. So, this bill must contain a plan to license distributors. This new regulation will only exacerbate problems and will not protect the public. Possibly LLR needs more resources to implement current regulations?

S. 67 will impose liability on the distributor. What kinds of records should be expected of distributors? Should we hold the distributor responsible for lapsed licensing, or forged documents? This will surely lead to the inclusion of distributors in tort cases involving improper installations.

Also, S. 67 does not permit a homeowner from purchasing HVAC equipment for installation on his or her own home. I agree that those in the business of residential installations should be licensed; yet a homeowner should be permitted to attempt this or any other kind of improvement. A tremendous encroachment on individual freedom is imposed in this legislation. I am not aware of any other law that ties the hands of the homeowner. This will definitely lead us down a slippery slope. What’s next? Water heaters? Plumbing supplies? Light bulbs? Should the safety squad outlaw individuals from working on their car?

I have always been very skeptical of new government regulation, simply because it increases the scope of government leading to increased overhead in the market. The public ultimately suffers, as new regulation usually lead to increased costs.

“Many people want the government to protect the consumer. A much more urgent problem is to protect the consumer from the government.” Milton Friedman

Fortunately, the chairman of the subcommittee, Sen. Danny Verdin, was wise enough to make the motion that this bill be recommitted to subcommittee for further review.

Tuesday, March 06, 2007

Brownback sweeps the SC Upstate

T’was a great day in Greenville as I accompanied my Presidential candidate, Senator Sam Brownback. The day started with First Monday Lunch at the Poinsett Club, Family Life Center International (Steve Wood), Bob Jones University, a tour of Cancer Center of the Carolinas, a segment on WORD radio, then 3 of Greenville County precinct reorganization meetings.

Sam’s a “no-spin” candidate on red meat Republican issues such as:
Immigration, the war on Terror, Taxes & spending, Family, Marriage, & Life.
He’s not telling us what we want to hear, Brownback is what we want to hear, with a long record.

Thursday, March 01, 2007

Unofficial Spartanburg Straw Poll Results

Thursday in the upstate was pouring cats & dogs, I stepped in a poodle.

Considering Republicans that took the effort to attend precinct Reorganization, and to vote in the straw poll, these are serious numbers.

1-McCain 2-Giuliani 3-Hunter 4-Brownback 5-Romney 6-Huckabee