(Charleston) Post and Courier. April 26, 2021.

Editorial: With SC legislative session winding down, bad ideas are in no short supply

It’s crunch time at the S.C. Statehouse. Although lawmakers plan to be back several times through the spring, summer and even fall, they have just three weeks — that’s nine days — remaining in the regular session. That means the rush is on to get high-priority bills passed before they adjourn on May 13. And all that focus on high-priority legislation makes it easier to sneak through nasty little back-burner measures that haven’t gotten much attention.

The good news is that the Legislature has been making real progress on the schools: The budget that the full Senate starts debating Tuesday includes $1,000 raises for all teachers and other provisions that should help combat our teacher shortage. House leaders say they plan to similarly sweeten the pot for teachers and other state employees now that state finances are recovering from the pandemic. And they should.

Gov. Henry McMaster signed a bill into law on Friday that ensures that all students now have the option of attending in-person classes five days a week, and will next year. Along with a bill allowing school districts to operate more than one school of innovation like Meeting Street Elementary @Brentwood.

And the House is one vote away from passing the Senate-passed S.201 to let the state education superintendent remove school boards in underperforming districts. It’s a good bill that lawmakers need to get across the finish line this year.

On Thursday, the Senate even passed a far-from-perfect but still fairly impressive bill to reform Santee Cooper, so there’s no reason we can’t expect to see some version of H.3194 become law in the next few weeks.

But oh, those rabbits. The House could pass legislation this week to make South Carolina the 16th state (34 are needed) to call for a convention of states. H.3205 authorizes a convention to propose amendments to the U.S. Constitution “that impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, and limit the terms of office for its officials and for members of Congress.”

Even ignoring how broad that second item is, legal scholars and historians doubt that such a convention could be limited; they note, after all, the last such gathering, in 1787, broke every legal restraint designed by the Continental Congress to limit its power and agenda. Although that worked out well, the fact is that a convention today has the potential of going off the rails on either the right or the left — and it’s not something we need to be facilitating.

Meantime, the budget bill up for debate in the Senate includes a handful of culture-war-crazy provisos — for instance, prohibiting colleges from requiring their students to be vaccinated, and prohibiting state police from enforcing any gun restrictions that are passed by Congress or even that result from federal court rulings.

SLED and the Department of Public Safety don’t spend much time enforcing federal laws, but prohibiting them from doing so isn’t far from nullification, which is unconstitutional. And while we hope there won’t be any good reason for colleges to require vaccinations for the fall semester, we’re not comfortable with the idea of the Legislature telling our largely self-supporting colleges they can’t.

We’re even less comfortable with the Legislature telling private employers they can’t require people to be vaccinated in order to work for them (a huge departure from the wide berth we normally, and wisely, give to employers), which the Senate voted to do earlier this month. But unlike bills, which have to pass both the House and the Senate before they go to the governor’s desk, these provisos are already in the budget bill, so they will become law unless the Senate or House votes specifically to remove them. Which needs to happen.

And the Senate could send the governor a fast-moving bill this week that prohibits local governments from regulating cigarette, vape or other tobacco flavors or ingredients, and block them from requiring local licenses to sell tobacco products. Supporters say H.3681 — which the House passed April 8 and the Senate polled out of committee on Thursday — is necessary to ensure that tobacco laws are uniform across the state.

What they mean is that they want to ensure that nothing is done in South Carolina to reduce sales of tobacco products — even products that are deliberately manipulated to entice children to use them. Vaping has powered an uptick in youth tobacco use, and the CDC says nearly all high school students who use tobacco products use flavored products. Little wonder that the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network, the American Heart Association, the American Lung Association, the South Carolina Cancer Alliance and the S.C. Chapter of the American Academy of Pediatrics are all urging legislators to kill the bill.

Which they should do. We have enough public health problems in South Carolina that the last thing we need to do is get in the way of local governments that want to try to combat them.


(Orangeburg) Times and Democrat. April 25, 2021.

Editorial: Good reasons to appreciate S.C. industry

The year 2020 was a tough one with the impact of the coronavirus pandemic. Local industries felt the effects, but indications are they have rebounded and are looking to the future.

Today’s T&D Industry Appreciation special section examines the state of manufacturing and agribusiness locally – and offers thanks for the contributions made to our communities by industry. Orangeburg County boasts a diverse industrial landscape of more than 100 firms, with manufacturers employing over 8,200.

About 19% of the county’s population works in manufacturing, according to the South Carolina Department of Employment & Workforce Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages from the third quarter of 2020. Manufacturing is the largest sector of the county’s workforce, with 5,150 individuals employed in manufacturing out of a workforce of 26,824.

Industry is equally vital in Calhoun and Bamberg counties, where there was industrial progress to report in 2020 as well.

A new study shows the entire state has reason to appreciate manufacturing.

SC Future Makers, a nonprofit workforce and education organization affiliated with the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance, released the economic impact study of South Carolina’s manufacturing industry this past week. Prepared by Dr. Joseph Von Nessen, Research Economist with the Darla Moore School of Business at the University of South Carolina, the study documents the uniquely large footprint that manufacturing maintains in the Palmetto State that has an estimated economic impact that totals between $194 billion and $206 billion annually.

Key economic impact findings from the study include:

• 16% of the State’s GDP is associated with manufacturing; manufacturing supports, either directly or indirectly, over 30% of all jobs statewide.

• Industries pay well and average an annual salary that is 33% higher than the state’s average wage.

• Manufacturing creates more jobs than virtually any other sector and has a multiplier effect of 2.4.

• 38% of South Carolina’s General Fund revenue comes from the manufacturing industry.

• South Carolina manufacturing is largely anchored by the aerospace, automotive and tire sectors along with their extended supply chains. These three sectors experienced growth at a collective rate of more than three times the state average over the past decade.

“The manufacturing industry has been the driving force of our state’s economy for over a century,” said Sara Hazzard, president and CEO of the South Carolina Manufacturers Alliance. “The value and promise that American manufacturing provides is South Carolina’s story. Ours is an industry that offers great careers, drives innovation, transforms communities for the better, and creates lasting impacts that benefit all South Carolinians.”

The study reinforces the strong foundation the manufacturing industry has in South Carolina and the economic stability it creates. Join us today in saying thanks.


(Greenwood) Index-Journal. April 24, 2021.

Editorial: Please, just get it

“I got mine.”

“Yeah, me too.”

“Same here.”

We like the sound of that. And then we listen some more and begin to hear other things.

“Well, I’m not getting it.”

“Me, either.”

“Heck, if everybody else already did, why should I?”

“Yeah, we’re probably OK since so many others did.”

Uh, no. Wrong thinking there.

You want to achieve herd immunity? You want to have a better chance of attending events and remaining healthy? You want a shot at avoiding not only COVID-19, but also its variants? You want to help prevent the development of variants?

Then get the vaccination.

If you’re holding out because you worry you might wind up sick and cannot afford to miss a work day, then by all means schedule the vaccination for when you’ll be off work. Just in case. Your workplace might work with you so you don’t miss pay. Ask. But don’t keep coming up with excuses. Fear the needle? Don’t. You’ll hardly feel a thing. And even at that, isn’t a tiny sting or twinge worth it for the protection the vaccine can provide?

And if you think that enough other people are getting vaccinated and COVID-19 will simply wind up in the annals of history, think again.

Dr. Jane Kelly, the state’s assistant epidemiologist, said this week the virus will not be eliminated by the vaccine; rather, the vaccine will aid in controlling its spread. In short, COVID-19 will not be eliminated. Much like the flu or even the common cold, it will remain with us. But do remember, unlike the common cold it’s a killer of a virus.

Please, set aside the rumor mill that churns on social media. Research the science. Get the vaccine.