Tag: S.C.General Assembly

Bobby Harrell v. Alan Wilson at Supreme Court Today

The S.C. Supreme Court will hear arguments beginning at 1:30 p.m. today on the continuing controversy over who has the right to investigate possibly illegal actions by S.C. House Speaker Bobby Harrell.

The case originally dates from an alleged ethics complaint brought to S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson by the libertarian South Carolina Policy Council. It included allegations that Harrell used his influence as Speaker to obtain a contract for his pharmaceutical supply business and improperly appointed his brother to a judicial candidate screening committee.

(In South Carolina, the legislature appoints a panel that screens judicial applicants and sends recommendations back to the legislature which votes on the recommendations for final approval of the judges. To further complicate the situation, many of the applicants are former legislators.)

The complaint also questioned the use of approximately $324,000 of Harrell’s campaign funds to reimburse himself for costs associated with trips in his personal airplane.

General Assembly Failing Citizens Again

S.C. Ethics Reform This Year – Maybe, Sort Of

It is possible, some say probable, that an ethics reform bill will pass the S.C. General Assembly and be signed into law before sine die June 5th.

But, it really won’t be much of a law.

The key ingredient, an independent ethics commission to investigate allegations of ethics violations against members of the House and Senate, will be missing.

Time to Replace Chief Justice Jean Toal – Updated

By Paul Gable
The S.C. General Assembly is set to vote today on whether Jean Toal will continue as Chief Justice of the S.C. Supreme Court.

Toal and Associate Justice Costa Pleicones have spent the last several months lobbying legislators with neither, apparently, garnering enough support to force the other out of the race.

It takes a majority of those voting to win a new 10 year term that will begin July 1, 2014 with the new fiscal year. The Senate will begin voting at noon with the House following shortly thereafter.

State Agrees to Addition at State Farmers Market

Another perfect example of your taxpayer dollars at work occurred Wednesday when the state Joint Bond Review Committee approved purchase of 9.83 additional acres at the state farmers market in Lexington County.

The purchase needs final approval from the state Budget and Control Board.

The farmers market purchase has been an issue for two years. Initially the expansion of the farmers market was projected to be as high as $16.3 million. In 2012, Rep. Ralph Norman, a developer from York County, challenged the assessment and conclusions that went with that price.

State Bills Would Outlaw Flow Control

Bills introduced in the South Carolina House and Senate at the beginning of this new legislative session would end the government enforced monopoly on solid waste disposal currently in force in Horry County.

For four years, the Horry County Solid Waste Authority, at its Hwy 90 landfill, has been the recipient of all solid waste generated within the county thanks to a flow control ordinance passed by Horry County Council in early 2009.

The ordinance was enacted because the SWA was losing money to private haulers that were able to dispose of construction and demolition waste more cheaply at private landfills in other counties.

Bill Fixes Election Filing Requirements

The South Carolina Senate moved quickly in this new session to clear up candidate election filing requirements so that, hopefully, another filing disaster, like the one that occurred for the 2012 general elections, will be avoided.

Under the new rules, incumbents and challengers both must file a Statement of Economic Interests electronically with the S.C. Ethics Commission prior to filing a Statement of Intention of Candidacy or Nomination for Petition.

A party executive committee may not accept a SIC unless the committee has verified that the candidate has electronically filed a SEI.

Court Upholds Horry County Flow Control

Horry County may continue government monopoly flow control of its garbage waste stream, according to a ruling in federal district court last week.

The ruling dismissed the 2009 lawsuit by Sandlands LLC and Express Disposal Service challenging the legality of a county ordinance requiring all solid waste generated within Horry County be disposed of at the Horry County Solid Waste Authority landfill off Hwy 90.

With the dismissal, Horry County and the SWA will continue to exercise monopoly control over the county’s waste stream at the expense of a competitive market and private industry.

Internet Sweepstakes Growing in South Carolina

A recent ruling by the North Carolina Supreme Court outlawing internet sweepstakes games has led to a strong push by the internet sweepstakes industry into South Carolina.

There is no state law that specifically addresses the issue of internet sweepstakes gaming parlors or machines. Bills have been pre-filed in both the S.C. House and Senate to close the loophole in the law during the legislative session beginning next week.

Throughout the state, judges interpreting the current state laws prohibiting gambling, have come down on both sides of the issue. In some areas internet sweepstakes games have been declared legal, in others not.

Haley Appoints Ethics Reform Commission

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley appointed a special commission this week to make recommendations on ethics reform in South Carolina governments.

The 11 member commission, created by executive order of the governor, will have until January 28, 2013 to draft an “ethics blueprint” recommending new and/or stronger ethics laws.

Commission members will look into freedom of information, campaign finance and practices, conflict of interest and ethics enforcement by state and legislative ethics panels.

On the surface this sounds good and is certainly needed in South Carolina, a state that is ranked at or near the bottom of all states in ethics and freedom of information by the independent Center for Public Integrity.

New Developments in Coastal Kickback?

A lot of buzz is going around the Grand Strand business community that new developments in the Coastal Kickback scandal will be made public shortly.

Coastal Kickback spread $239,500, in campaign donations of questionable legality, to state legislators and Myrtle Beach city council incumbents after passage of a local tourism tax that brings approximately $18 million to the coffers of the Myrtle Beach Area Chamber of Commerce annually. It has been the subject of an over two year investigation by the FBI and IRS.

The talk includes references to an imminent public statement by the U.S. Attorney’s office, possibly as early as today or the beginning of next week.