Yes, really


Attention Senator Tom Davis - it's your birthday! Go have some fun today.

Remembering David Umphlett

Today, funeral services will be held for Berkeley County State Representative David Umphlett. Umphlett was serving his fifth term in the State House from District 100.

A retired vice president for government and consumer affairs for Berkeley Electric Cooperative, he was well-known (including by yours truly) for being quick to return a phone call and handle constituent matters in a low-key and prompt manner.

He wasn't one to give the loudest speeches or work to draw headlines, but he knew who to contact to resolve problems and how to work behind the scenes in a manner more suited to his low-key and easy-going style.

Turning 40 must be tough

We've known the him since his start in politics and he's done alright, representing much of Rock Hill and central York County since 1992.

So how does it feel to turn 40 today?

Just ask Gary - and be sure to wish him a Happy Birthday.

Have a safe and enjoyable Memorial Day

Bills legislators should pass

As the General Assembly heads towards the finish line of this year's session, there are several bills which have been advocated by the Blogland this year which are still awaiting action in either the House or Senate:
  • Senate Bill 705 - Underground utility safety and damage prevention. This bill, sponsored by Senator Luke Rankin (R-Myrtle Beach) and championed by Senators Mike Rose (R-Summerville) and Paul Campbell (R-Goose Creek) has been a priority of the Blogland because of its very real impact in addressing the dangers presented by underground utilities. This bill, which was the result of a year of negotiations by representatives from dozens of companies and stakeholder groups, sailed through the Senate last month with a 39-1 vote. The amended bill passed third reading in the House and was sent back to the Senate for a final vote, which is expected to take place tomorrow.
  • House Bill 3035 - Flexible scheduling for school districts. This bill sponsored by Rep. Shannon Erickson (R-Beaufort) would allow school districts flexibility in setting their school calendars, so long as the equivalent of 180 instruction days is met. This is similar to flex-time in the private sector and probably similar to the career arrangments of many legislators. The bill passed the House by a vote of 90 to 5 and is presently awaiting action in the Senate Education Committee.
  • House Bill 3297 - School superintendent severance package caps. This bill, sponsored by Rep. Phillip Lowe (R-Florence) would limit the value of severance packages paid to school district superintendents to one years' salary. That's still far more generous than teachers get paid, or what most other South Carolinas have gotten when laid off during this recession. The bill is presently in the House Education and Public Works Committee.
  • House Bill 3660 -  Metal products theft and sales. Rep. Harry Ott (D-Calhoun) sponsored this bill to address the rampant problem of metal products theft, which has flourished in recent years, affecting homeowners, construction companies, businesses, and other organizations. The bill passed the House in a 93-6 vote and is presently awaiting action in the Senate.

Parole Denied


It took just five minutes for the parole board to deny double cop-killer Brian Nelson parole today in a standing-room only hearing.

The Blogland was there to show support for the family of Officer William Bell of the Summerville Police Department, one of the officers killed by Nelson.

We want to thank our readers who have shown their support, including by signing the parole petitions to keep Nelson behind bars.

For those of you not familiar with the case, here are the facts:

Senator Mike Rose reception - this evening


State Senator Mike Rose, since returning to the Senate, has become known as one of the more vocal advocates for workplace safety, helping lead ongoing efforts to amend the 1978 Underground Utilities Damage Prevention Act.

He's holding a fundraising reception in Columbia tonight and we're asking our readers to drop by and show their support:

5:30 - 7:00pm: Vista Room at the Blue Marlin, 1200 Lincoln Street Columbia, SC

For more info about the event, email michaelrosescsenate@gmail.com or contribute on-line via www.senatormikerose.com.

Bill aimed at metal theft wave goes to Senate

Part of my day job involves handling insurance-related matters, including general liability, theft and Workers’ Compensation matters. During the course of this recession, I’ve seen a major increase in the number of theft incidents, including metal products used for highway signage and concrete construction, such as rebar rods.

Another choice theft item has been copper products on the outsides of buildings, including gutters and air-conditioning parts. While it can cost thousands of dollars of damage, the thief will sell the metal items for mere pennies on the dollar for its raw metal value. According to State Senator Darrell Jackson, whose church near Columbia has been hit several times:

In the past seven months or so, thieves have repeatedly raided his rural church and related buildings, doing some $70,000 worth of damage to air conditioners and causing the church to spend $10,000 on fencing, security cameras and other security. One insurance company even cancelled its policy.
Legislators are working to take action on this growing problem, with a bill sponsored by State Rep. Harry Ott from Calhoun County.

Meet the Grand-blogger

This is to announce that yours truly became the first Grand-blogger in the state's political blogosphere this weekend.

My oldest daughter, Cecilia, and her husband Vince became happy (but tired) parents this Saturday morning, just before 11 a.m, welcoming their daughter Daniella into the world. At this time, they're trying to rest up while dealing with a stream of family, friends and medical staff.

Thanks to those who've reached out since last night.

For those who've asked about a gift registry, go to http://www.toysrus.com/registry/index.jsp and put in Cecilia Franco.

NLRB suggests union "payoff" from Boeing to keep Charleston plant open


In a back-handed response to the building storm of resistance to their efforts to force Boeing to reneg on it's commitment to open a 787 production facility in South Carolina, the NLRB said the company would be free to make planes in South Carolina so long as they committed to also make planes in Seattle, where negotiations with labor unions had failed, leaving the aerospace manufacturer with no assurances production of planes could take place.

According to The Street, Nancy Cleeland, a spokesman for the NLRB, said:

"We are not telling Boeing they can't build planes in South Carolina. We are talking about one specific piece of work: three planes a month. If they keep those three planes a month in Washington, there is no problem." Beyond the ten planes, she said, Boeing could build whatever it wants in South Carolina. 

Such a move would put the unions in control of the operations of the South Carolina plant as the number of planes they would be able to make would be controlled by the pace of production of the Seattle plant. Berkeley County State Senator Paul Campbell, a former Alcoa plant manager who was on the Boeing negotiation team, called the NLRB offer "not realistic", warning the offer was unacceptable and could force Boeing to choose between moving 787 production outside of the United States or abandon the plane altogether.

We contacted several others who were involved with the ongoing Boeing efforts and found no support for the NLRB "proposal". One source accused the NLRB of attempting to act as a taxpayer-subsidized bargaining agent for labor unions, calling it "mafia-style extortion".

Underground utility reform update


As folks in San Francisco can tell you, if it's underground, it can still kill you and a lot of others. Last year, an underground gas line ruptured, killing four and destroying 38 homes.

This is something which has almost happened in South Carolina numerous times, often when construction crews barely miss a gas line which has been unmarked by utility locators, or when an irresponsible contractor allows their crews to dig without giving the required notice. To the right is a photo of an incident which took place in Mount Pleasant (in the districts of Sen. Campsen and Rep. Sotille) where a gas line was nowhere near where the marks were - and disaster barely avoided.

South Carolina's laws regarding underground utility damage prevention were passed in 1978, and haven't been updated since then, raising concerns about the potential for a repeat of the San Francisco blast.

As a construction safety person, I can assure you it's not a question of IF, but rather WHEN - unless the standards are updated and an effective enforcement system is in place.

State House presents SC and US House district proposals

Following yesterday's release of redistricting information by the Senate Judiciary Committee, the State House Judiciary Committee released their proposals for redrawing the Congressional and State House districts this afternoon.

Not surprisingly, several House members will see their rural seats erased (four) and a Seventh Congressional District is based in the Pee Dee and upper coastal regions (as was the historic 6th through most of the 20th century).

The House also presented a Congressional proposal which was submitted by the NAACP, which is even more gerrymandered than the ACLU's proposal to the Senate, drawing a Democratic-friendly district that snakes from Greenville to Columbia to Bennettsville. However, they won't be able to count on the support of Congressman Clyburn as the proposed Congressional maps submitted by the House and Congressman Jim Clyburn were very similar.

Overall, Republicans may have some opportunities to gain ground in the State House from the maps which were presented.

Redistricting: Senate releases third-party proposals


One Congressional plan was submitted jointly by Congressmen Mick Mulvaney and Joe Wilson, while the ACLU presented proposals for Congressional and Senatorial districts. The ACLU plans are the first and second images with this posting.

A quick review of the plans showed, with the exception of the ACLU plans, the presenters all considered the same basic structure - leaving the districts mostly as-is, except to pull back from the Pee Dee region, where the new Seventh District would be located.

Congressman Jeff Duncan pumps gas, talks energy

While running for Congress, Third District Congressman Jeff Duncan made a big deal about energy issues. To get a better understanding of how these issues are affecting his constitutents, Duncan pumped gas in Laurens yesterday:


As part of the event, Duncan pointed out that the House passed three bills intended to ease gas prices by increasing energy production in the United States. He also challenged the Obama administration to take more action to increase domestic energy production after they approved the renewal of just seven of 52 offshore drilling which had been issued before last year's Gulf oil spill, pointing out that "actions speak louder than words".

America's Most Wanted ... cancelled? WTF?!?


After over two decades on the air, one of the longest-running television programs - America's Most Wanted - got the ax from Fox television network officials. This announcment comes just weeks after the most notorious criminal to be featured by the program - Osama Bin Laden - was brought to justice by U.S. Navy SEALs and at the end of a season which, according to host John Walsh, "caught more guys than we've ever caught".

Which leads us to ask ourselves this question: What the hell are they thinking over at Fox?!?

By engaging the American public in the search for fugitives and missing persons through this TV program, John Walsh was able to turn a personal tragedy - the abduction and murder of his son - into something positive. This program has been a major asset for law enforcement agencies and a defender of those victimized by major criminals.

Fifteen years ago, a similar decision to cancel the show was made, only to be rescinded. We hope for a similar reversal of fortune this time will keep the program on the air - and dangerous fugitives on the run.

Murrell Smith is how old?


You should find him and ask him that question, since today is his birthday.

Happy Birthday, Murrell!

Frank Horne

The Blogland asks our readers to take a moment to reach out to the family of Dorchester County State Representative Jenny Horne to give their condolences and appreciation for Horne's father-in-law Franklin D. "Frank" Horne, who died earlier today.

Frank Horne was retired Chief Master Sergeant, USAF, with a long record of service to country, community and family. Our thoughts and prayers are with the Horne family and we hope yours will be as well.

A funeral service will be held Monday at 2 p.m. at Bethany United Methodist Church, Spell Chapel, 118 W. 3rd South Street, Summerville. Burial will follow at Dorchester Memory Gardens, 11000 Dorchester Road, Summerville.

Mick Mulvaney to help lead YouCut II effort


Last year, the House Republicans launched their “YouCut” initiative, encouraging the public to help identify where budget cuts can be made. In keeping with promises to keep reining in the budget, House Republicans are continuing this effort and have asked Congressman Mick Mulvaney to help lead YouCut II.

Each week that the House is in session, the YouCut community will be asked by the House GOP leadership to vote on three spending reduction proposals for introduction in the House with the winning YouCut proposal introduced by the designated Member, with the support of the Majority Leader’s office, which will work to champion the YouCut bills and move them through either in the form of free-standing bills, amendments, or provisions in larger bills. Visitors can then track the legislative progress of the YouCut proposals by visiting the YouCut site.

Mulvaney sees this as a way to help better engage concerned citizens who have ideas on how to control spending by Congress:

Legislative child labor violations focus on State House freshman

We thought this photo of York County Rep. Tommy Pope and his son Preston was pretty cool.

Lowcountry legislator accused of child labor violations


Not really, but we thought this was a great photo of Dorchester County State Rep. Chris Murphy with his son Jackson on the House floor.

H.3035: Flexible calendar options for school districts

South Carolina is a diverse collection of communities with different needs and challenges. Managing public education across the state will likewise require different approaches, including with regard to scheduling school times.

Toward that end, Beaufort Representative Shannon Erickson has sponsored legislation to allow school districts to opt to adjust their calendars to more or less than 180 calendar days, as long as the equivalent number of instructional hours are met. This bill - H.3035 - passed the House and is now over in the Senate's Education Committee awaiting further action.

Flex time is a common practice in the workplace, allowing employers to better adjust to workload or unique local situations, such as traffic patterns. We don't see why South Carolina schools, often behind the rest of the country in management practices, can't adopt similar approaches.

Erickson's bill make sense. As such, it deserves the support of the Senate.

Mark your Calendar: Mick Mulvaney on the road, 5/17 & 5/19


Fifth District Congressman Mick Mulvaney is hitting the road again with more Town Hall meetings, so be sure to mark your calendar and go catch one of the rising stars of the Congressional freshman class.

Tuesday, May 17th: Cherokee Town Hall – 6:30pm
Broad River Electric Auditorium
811 Hamrick Street, Gaffney, SC


Thursday, May 19th: Chesterfield Town Hall – 6:30pm
Chesterfield High School Cafeteria
401 North Page Street Chesterfield, SC

Walton Cartoon: Obama the ... hero?

S.C. Business One-Stop marks six years

 

Before hitting the road on Friday, the Blogland joined Secretary of State Mark Hammond in celebrating the sixth anniversary of SCBOS – the S.C. Business One Stop website (www.scbos.sc.gov) – a venture which was started to allow businesses to file corporate documents with the Secretary of State’s office and has grown into a much larger resource for state businesses.

Also on hand were Governor Nikki Haley, who praised the website for being part of making South Carolina a more business-friendly state, and John Finan, the Director of the Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW). Haley praised the website as part of the state's mission of being more business friendly:

This means for every business in the state is go make your money, government is not going to get in the way. We are saving you time saving you money.

The website has become an attractive alternative for business filings, with the SCDOR reporting that SCBOS has saved businesses approximately $5.5 million in operating costs by relieving the burden of paper filing. According to Hammond, twenty percent of all incorporations are now filed online via the SCBOS website.

CHANGE your calendar: Mike Rose event rescheduled


The event for Senator Mike Rose has been changed to Tuesday, May 24.

If you can make it, you should.

Vista Room at the Blue Marlin
1200 Lincoln Street
5:30-7:00 p.m.

Not at the convention

When forced to choose between attending the SCGOP convention and attending a wedding this weekend, the wedding won.

Of course, we decided to try to have some fun along the way.

Yes, the shirt says "Broke".

Harpootlian to kick off college outreach and money-saving program

Dick Harpootlian, the new Chair of the South Carolina Democratic Party, will begin efforts to reach out to the state's younger voters at its many colleges, offering them ways to improve their social life and save money.

The message: "You shouldn't have to buy beer. Just rent it for the day."

Reportedly several college fraternities have contacted Harpootlian to discuss the details of this new program.

Clemmons buzz building for the new 7th district seat?


We've heard a few names of potential candidates, but thus far, most of the buzz has centered around Myrtle Beach State Rep Alan "Ferris Bueller" Clemmons.


Right now, I'm enjoying representing Horry County in the Nation's Capitol. But I couldn't think of anyone better to represent a congressional district if it came to the Grand Strand other than Alan Clemmons.

Given the size of the district, especially the egos and cash floating around the Grand Strand, it's hard to imagine this seat won't see a large fielding of candidates. If you've got names, news, or insights, be sure to drop an email to earl@earlcapps.org.

Today is their day

Mark your calendar - this Saturday: Honor Flight Lowcountry


Mark your calendars for the evening of Saturday, May 7th for the heart-warming “Welcome Home” of the fourth Honor Flight Lowcountry.

Approximately 100 local WWII veterans, along with their guardians, will return to Charleston International Airport about 7 pm that evening and the “more the merrier” as they are welcomed back from their long day in Washington, DC.

With past Honor Flight homecomings, the ever-faithful Patriot Guard Riders have made appearances as have Citadel cadets, active-duty military, JROTC groups and masses of flag- waving, sign-carrying, grateful, civilians. Please be there to welcome them back from their trip.

Honor Flight Lowcountry’s goal is to ensure that all area World War II veterans get a chance to visit the memorial dedicated to them and their fallen comrades. Please visit their support information page to see how YOU can support their mission of honoring these honored heroes. Or you can call (843) 906-0399.

Harpootlian to attack Wheel of Fortune?

Sources have informed the Blogland that newly-elected S.C. Democratic Party Chair Dick Harpootlian has begun formulating plans for a high profile political attack against the Wheel of Fortune, well-known for starring Vanna White, a Horry County native.

Reportedly the Dark Lord of Democratic politics will his begin by going after a well-known American institution - the Wheel of Fortune game show - over it's restrictive policies, which force contestants to buy letters.

We've been told that his equity plan will demand the game show allow contestants to simply rent the letters for the day, using his long-time approach to South Carolina politics, where Harpootlian is well known for saying: “I don’t want to buy the black vote. I just want to rent it for a day.”

The details of the plan are sure to leak out. When they do, we'll keep you posted.