State House Report

Who’s Been Naughty and Nice in S.C. Government

By Andy Brack
Thursday, December 26, 2013

It’s the time of year for Christmas cheer, with presents or black coal, oh dear!

For some there will be great hoorays, while others will get holiday nays.

While South Carolina leaders who should get lumps of coal far outstrips the list of those who will unwrap presents, let’s start with those who have been nice:

  • Sugarplums to Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, whose advocacy for South Carolina’s elderly is making a difference. And to state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, D-Camden, for successfully expanding 4-year-old kindergarten to reach more poor children. With just a bit more of a push in 2014, South Carolina could have every 4-year-old in a school of some sort.
  • Christmas cheer to state Rep. Jenny Horne, R-Summerville, for working to expose how the state Department of Social Services may not be protecting children as it should and for advocating for a new children’s agency. Kudos to moderate Rep. Tommy Stringer, R-Greer, for injecting some practical, moderate tax policy conversation into a chamber too dominated by people mesmerized by their own voices. And a holiday tip of the hat to Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, for continuing as the conscience of the House — even when the wingnuts get out of control.
  • In the Senate, pass the eggnog to state Sens. Wes Hayes, R-York, and Thomas Alexander, R-Oconee, both of whom get more accomplished by working diligently in the background than the blowhards who hog the television cameras.
  • And don’t forget all of the folks working to keep our state green — or greener — from the Don’t Dump on S.C. anti-out-of-state-waste coalition to Santee Cooper and SCE&G that finally are pushing for more solar energy. It’s good too that power companies are retiring some dirty old coal power plants, which is where we get this year’s supply of coal lumps.

Atop the naughty list is Gov. Nikki Haley, who must have left the whole notion of Christian charity in the closet when refusing to accept billions of federal Medicaid expansion dollars that would have helped more than 200,000 of the state’s poorest get health insurance for the first time. It also didn’t help this year that Haley talked solidly about more ethical accountability and transparency, but continued to face campaign challenges of acting ethically.

Also on the naughty list:

  • Attorney General Alan Wilson, for wasting tax dollars on frivolous lawsuits and the convenient lie about hundreds of zombies voting in state elections that led to passage of a chilling voter ID law. But the allegation was found to have no substance when a SLED report saw the light of day in July. Noted the Washington Post: “There were not ‘hundreds’ of zombie voters — just egg on the face of the politicians who promoted these ‘facts’ across national television.”
  • S.C. Sen. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, for general wackiness that is fueling a bid for U.S. Senate. What we can’t figure out is how a guy who has $1.4 million in business debt can pitch that he’s fiscally responsible.
  • Tony Keck, head of the state Department of Health and Human Services and chief water-carrier of the strange notion that expanding rural health care by $20 million is better than accepting billions from Obamacare to bring preventive health insurance to thousands of poor residents.
  • State Supreme Court Justice Don Beatty, who shouldn’t get any rewards for saying how he would rule in a case that is not even before him about a bill that has not become law.
  • The State Ethics Commission, which stretches the limits of credibility for seemingly preferential treatment for Gov. Nikki Haley’s ethical foibles.
  • Legislative nullifiers for continuing to push a failed political prescription for any policy they find irritating. It didn’t work 180 years ago or when the nation split 150 years ago.
  • State Treasurer Curtis Loftis for a “my way or the highway” attitude in dealing with the state pension board. The bickering needs to stop.
  • Members of the state congressional delegation who voted to continue the federal government shutdown and put the United States’ financial system at risk. Included are U.S. Sen. Tim Scott and U.S. Reps. Mark Sanford, Joe Wilson, Jeff Duncan, Trey Gowdy, Mick Mulvaney and Tom Rice.

Let’s hope for a better 2014, even though it is an election year.

Andy Brack is publisher of Statehouse Report; reach him at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address). Statehouse Report also publishes a news analysis by Bill Davis.

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