By Paul Gable
This year’s legislative session is down to the last four days and members of the General Assembly are again making sure nothing meaningful will come out of this session.
The Senate killed any chance for ethics reform with a vote that refused to move the ethics reform bill up in the waiting queue. So legislators will maintain ethics investigations in house, actually that means there won’t be any investigations, and we will again not know what their private sources of income are.
Earlier, a bill to expand the Freedom of Information Act was buried in the House where it was recommitted to the Judiciary Committee after getting a favorable vote out earlier. We wouldn’t want the members of the General Assembly to have to divulge their e-mails and other correspondence to the general public. Better they remain secret.
A bill to make government monopolies illegal, specifically as they relate to solid waste flow control and more generally to the marketplace as a whole, remains stuck in the Senate where it will remain this year. Got to keep those government monopolies in place to the detriment of private business and the citizenry in general.
It didn’t take the General Assembly any time at all to give another $120 million, this year, to Boeing for expansion of its facilities in North Charleston. But, that is corporate welfare, which is well practiced in this supposedly most conservative of states.
But, real reform is not in the cards in Columbia.
One thing the legislators are working hard on is the Capital Reserve Fund, which contains approximately $112 million this year. This fund is set aside each budget year to be used in case of emergency. If it is not used by the end of the current budget cycle, it gets “porked out” to special interest projects.
Such is happening now as the Senate looks to dole out the reserves. Expansion of the state Farmer’s Market is again jumping to the top of this list. The project is a pet of Agriculture Commissioner Hugh Weathers for no apparent reason other than to expand the state’s holdings in a market that is, frankly, not working.
And so goes the important work of the S.C. General Assembly.