Saturday’s editorial offers a roundup of a few interesting bills up for consideration in Columbia:
As of Friday, our state lawmakers had introduced nearly 1,700 bills and resolutions during this session, from a wide-ranging overhaul of education financing down to the bill making the South Carolina Pecan Festival in Florence the official state pecan festival.
With all the news that comes out of Columbia each week it’s hard to keep up with all of the moving parts. So from time to time we like to highlight some of the less noticeable pieces of legislation, particularly those that would affect our communities:
H 3948: Republican Rep. Alan Clemmons of Myrtle Beach proposed this bill, which would allow golf carts with headlights to be legally driven until 9 p.m. on Oct. 31. Clemmons said that the idea was proposed to him by Myrtle Beach City Councilman Mike Lowder, who in turn was asked by city residents for a safer and easier way to accompany their children while trick-or-treating on Halloween.
The enforcement of current golf cart laws is a continuing issue; it’s not unusual to see children driving them on city streets during the summer. And the idea of putting more motorized vehicles on the road as trick-or-treaters walk the streets is certainly a concern. But on the whole it seems a reasonable idea that deserves to get a fair hearing in the legislature.
S 0461: When we last addressed this bill on recycling we had yet to be convinced of its worth. The legislation, sponsored by Sen. Ray Cleary of Murrells Inlet, requires every owner of a liquor license to recycle every beverage container sold on the premises. Our concerns were twofold: that it focused on using penalties to force compliance rather than providing incentives, and it redirected local accommodations tax to pay for the program at a time when local municipalities could most use that tax money. The original bill would have reduced accommodations tax funds by about $200,000, according to the Board of Economic Advisors.
Both of our concerns have since been addressed, receiving a makeover in the Judiciary Committee, and we’re now happy to get behind this idea, although its future in the Senate seems less than assured, having picked up some powerful opponents along the way. The bill now offers a 10 percent to 25 percent reduction in license fees for businesses that institute the recycling plan, offering some strong motivation for eateries to accept the plan, and it redirects money from state litter control efforts to pay for the program, rather than from accommodations tax. This seems a fine compromise, as more recycling should lead to less litter.
H 3950: Having gone through a number of high-profile animal abuse cases recently, animal control has been on our minds, and apparently on the minds of those in Columbia as well. This bill, co-sponsored by Clemmons, Surfside Beach Rep. Nelson Hardwick and Conway Rep. George Hearn, would give animal control officers the power to arrest those who break animal care laws.
Frankly, it was surprising to learn that this wasn’t already the case. Giving arrest powers to those most involved in animal care and most informed on the topic simply seems common sense, while the provision that any arrests would be confined to animal control issues is a good safeguard.
H 3933: Finally, part of the reason for watching the legislature is to make sure that our lawmakers are spending their limited time on those subjects that are most important to our state. On that score, we were happy to see that none of our local legislators had signed on to this waste of time, which would require that every public building in the state “must have a hand sanitizer receptacle prominently mounted and displayed near every major entrance of the building.”
As one frequent contributor to The Sun News’ Opinion Blog noted of this bill: “Lord, have mercy! Have we lost our minds?”