Showing posts with label south carolina politics. Show all posts
Showing posts with label south carolina politics. Show all posts

Melissa Emery, Family Court candidate - Seat Five

In the first few weeks of this year's legislative session, this race to fill a number of state judicial seats will be at the top of the agenda of our state’s legislators. 

We at the Blogland believe our state’s judicial selection process is too hidden from the public eye, and that a little transparency is long overdue. To help shed a little light on this somewhat-shadowy process for the benefit of our readers, we ask those seeking upcoming judicial seats to answer a few questions - and appreciate those who respond.

Melissa Emery, a Pee Dee native and an attorney from Myrtle Beach, is seeking the Seat Five At-Large Family Court seat. The first in her family to get through college, she’s a proud Francis Marion alum who is nearing her tenth year as a member of its board. A graduate of USC Law School, Ms. Emery has been practicing law for eighteen years, with much of her practice time spent in family law.

Now, we’d like for our readers to meet Ms. Emery:

Monday night with the Orangeburg GOP

Orangeburg Republicans gathered at the Cox Farm near Orangeburg for BBQ and politics at a picnic rally which was the most heavily-attended GOP event in the county in many years - and the Blogland was there.

Current and retired military veterans
lead the Pledge of Allegiance.
Headlined by Senator Jim DeMint, who hosted a private reception prior to the rally, was joined by statewide officeholders Alan Wilson, Mick Zais, Mark Hammond and Hugh Weathers. Also making appearances were former SCGOP Chair Katon Dawson, now a major Republican fundraising operative stumping for Presidential candidate Rick Perry, current SCGOP Chair Chad Connelly, Beaufort State Senator Tom Davis and former Lt. Governor candidate Bill Connor, who led the color guard for the occasion.

Emceeing the event was the Jim Ulmer, the county GOP Chair.

In addition to great stump speeches, the backroom chatter about next year's statewide and even local candidacies made for great discussion. We certainly appreciated the hospitality of the Orangeburg Republicans. If you missed this event, you definitely don't want to miss it next year!

Phil Leventis to face redistricting axe?

The last two cycles of redistricting have seen the Pee Dee region lose legislative representation. Four House seats moved out of the region in this time, with two or three more seats likely to be erased as the region continues to lag behind the state's population growth.

Senate seats have been harder to pick up and move because there are fewer of them. Their larger population has allowed them to stretch the seats geographically, picking up pockets of the more populous metros to the west of the region and along the coast in order to avoid taking a Senate seat out of the Pee Dee region entirely.

But this year, long-term population trends may have reached a tipping point, with talk around Columbia increasingly suggesting the Senate seat held by long-time Sumter Democrat Phil Leventis will be wiped out, possibly to create a new GOP-leaning district in the Lowcountry region.

Congressman Henry Brown's next political move?

Lowcountry political circles are buzzing with reports that while current First District Congressman Henry Brown is leaving Congress, he may not yet be done with Lowcountry politics.

Talk in the last two days has exploded about Brown's potential candidacy for the office of Berkeley County Supervisor, joining an already crowded Republican primary field which includes incumbent Supervisor Dan Davis, Berkeley County School Board member Terry Hardesty, Hanahan Mayor Minnie Blackwell and former County Council member Jean Woods, Jr.

Berkeley County is one of four counties in the state which elect the office of County Supervisor, who serves as the Executive officer of county government, as well as the Chair of County Council.

Carolinas AGC Legislative Reception is TONIGHT!

While we hope you've marked your calendar already, the calendar girls are here to remind you one more time that the annual Carolinas AGC legislative reception will be held this evening from 6 to 8 pm at the Koger Center.

This is a great opportunity for legislators to unwind a bit after session and touch base with people in the state's construction industry, so we're hoping to see a lot of legislators and staff there.

Of course, the Blogland will be there, so you don't want to miss the occasion.

Carolinas AGC legislative reception - next Wednesday

We're just a week away from the big annual Carolinas AGC legislative reception, which will be held on Wednesday, February 3.

This is a great opportunity for legislators and staff members to unwind a bit after session and touch base with people in the state's construction industry, so we're hoping to see a lot of legislators and staff there.

Of course, the Blogland will be there, so you don't want to miss the occasion.

That's Wednesday, February 3 from 6 to 8 pm at the Koger Center, right across from the State House. Mark your calendar and come join us.

Tim Scott to jump into First Congressional District race?

Not even a month after Henry Brown's decision not to seek re-election and the race for the Republican nomination for the First Congressional District seat (all but a guarantee of election in November) bears little resemblance to what it was two months ago.

The entry of Paul Thurmond into the race has generated lots of attention, and speculation is growing about the possibility of North Charleston State Representative Tim Scott switching from the Lt. Governor's race to the Congressional race.

We've also become aware of Scott cancelling a couple of candidates' forums outside of the First District, another sign that he may be about to switch races.

All our sources say he's all but in the race, with an announcement to be made as early as next week.

Stay tuned.

Help working college students: Increase the SC college tax credit (House Bill 4249)

When I was in college, that thing called a lottery started, promising that students who could maintain full-time enrollment and keep a 3.0 GPA or better would get thousands of dollars a year in tuition assistance.

While working full-time and being a parent, I kept full-time enrollment and a GPA that never dipped below a 3.0 (my final was 3.72) - but learned what a lie that promise was.

The truth is that few working adult students, regardless of their ability to meet eligibility criteria, are allowed to receive lottery money for tuition assistance at four-year public colleges, while the students who don't have to work, often live at home, and don't pay taxes get a free ride.

Does this sound the least bit fair?

Birthday fun in Florence

Stephanie Rawlinson is one of the rising stars of Republican politics in the Pee Dee region. So it wasn't too much of a surprise to see many of Florence County's most active GOP operatives gathered for a surprise birthday party last night.

Even her husband was in on the plot, with her walking into a house packed full of appreciative friends, having no idea what was planned.

Anytime people follow the belief that GOP really means "G-O-Party", the Blogland is gonna be there as well. So with not much else to do that night, I went on up to show our appreciation for her work - and to have a lot of fun. Which everyone did.

While the cake refers to a 40th birthday, that is NOT how old she really is. However, I am not at liberty to say how old she really is. Something about getting drug into a swamp and beat to a pulp ...

As always, thanks to the most fun trio in South Carolina Republican circles: the McLaughlin sisters and Dana "the Lubricant Chick" Shriver, who were holding a ladies-only meeting in back when it was time to leave.

Carolinas AGC Legislative Reception - February 3

Like the calendar girl is suggesting ... it's that time of year again - the annual Carolinas AGC legislative reception will be held on Wednesday, February 3.

This is a great opportunity for legislators to unwind a bit after session and touch base with people in the state's construction industry, so we're hoping to see a lot of legislators and staff there.

Of course, the Blogland will be there, so you don't want to miss the occasion.

That's Wednesday, February 3 from 6 to 8 pm at the Koger Center, right across from the State House. Mark your calendar and come join us.

At the State House today

It was a long day at the State House, talking about a couple of issues important to the Blogland - and the people of South Carolina - with a lot of legislators.

As always, it was great to see all the friendly folks - and its always funny to see people who should hate yours truly for past stories, but never stop to think that this long-haired, casually-dressed type was the trouble-making author of the Blogland.

A lot of people deserve thanks for their hospitality today, as well as their willingess to discuss these issues. We won't go into details as to what we talked about, or who with, but they know.

We'd have gotten to more Senators today, but with the late filibuster in the Senate, it just wasn't in the cards. For those who couldn't make their appointments, no problem. For those staffers who did their best to accomoodate us, thanks!

Of course, January is "hunting season", where college board and judicial candidates swarm the State House, seeking appointments or re-appointments. We got to talk with a few of them as well (but a lot of them have no interest in someone who is not a legislator and some are quite rude about it) today, and we appreciate their willingness to talk, but as the photo above shows, some legislators are begging for mercy.

Which we've talked about before.

The one we saw around the most was Maite Murphy, eagerly working for at At-Large Circuit Court seat.

More on those issues we've discussed soon ...

Spartanburg GOP breakfast club meeting this Saturday

This is from Rick Beltram's Piedmont Republican Club about their upcoming breakfast event:

Our January meeting will be on Saturday January 16th at 10AM at The Beacon.

Barry Wynn, former SCGOP Chairman, will speak about the 2010 Election preview.
Dr. Brent Nelson, candidate for Supt. of Education

This meeting is open to the public and is FREE. Please arrive early if you choose to order breakfast. Note: all candidates and guests will feel welcome. No purity test is required!
For more information , please call Rick Beltram (864-582-1717)

Inside Interview: State Senator Tom Davis

Beaufort Senator Tom Davis may be wrapping up his first year in the Senate, but he’s no newcomer to state politics. He served as Chief of Staff for Governor Sanford, returning to Beaufort to defeat Senator Catherine Ceips in one of last year’s most high-profile legislative races.

We have to give the guy credit. Even though the Blogland has been no friend to Governor Sanford, Davis' former employer, he reached out to us quickly after winning his Senate race in the summer of last year.

A fellow Catholic, he’s an attorney by profession who lives in Beaufort with his wife and their three daughters. He even met with yours truly and my daughter Bonnie for lunch recently and agreed to answer a few questions to help our readers learn a little bit more about him:

Between a law practice, family, handling constituent issues in such a widespread district, as well as legislative business in Columbia, how do you work to keep all these things in balance?

Well, the honest answer is that right now I don’t have them in balance, as my wife and law partners will attest. The State Senate will absorb all your time if you let it, and so far I pretty much have. As an attorney it is my practice to read and study every single document that comes before me prior to taking any action, and I’ve carried this habit with me to the State Senate – reading and then asking questions about every bill that comes before me, whether in subcommittee, committee or on in the chamber. So that takes up pretty much all my time during the legislative session (January to June). And this past summer, while session was out, I spent on average about three nights a week giving talks, attending community events, etc. , and about three hours during the day handling constituent issues or working on initiatives important to my constituents (for example, the new ocean terminal being planned for Jasper County). My resolution for the New Year is to budget my time better so that I can spend more time with my family and practicing law.

What’s the biggest issue affecting your part of the state, and how can this be addressed (and/or how is it being addressed)?

The EFA funding formula for public education really hammers Beaufort County. Last year we paid $134 million in taxes that went into the EFA reallocation bucket and got nothing back – all of our tax dollars went elsewhere. No other county in the state received zero in EFA funds. The EFA funding formula is broken, primarily because other areas of the state have "gamed" the system to take their industrial property tax base off their assessment roles and out of the fund reallocation formula. Problem is, the money the state allocates for public education is fixed, which means that for every EFA dollar our county is able to get, some other area (or combination of areas) in the state will get one dollar less. So legislators from areas who benefit from the current formula dig their heels in, regardless of the inequity. As state senator for Beaufort County, it is my job to get this thing fixed, and I need to advance every single possible legal argument and to make every single policy argument and to develop every single alliance with other legislators that I can. Other counties are also shafted by the EFA formula (though not as much as Beaufort County is). If I can get legislators from those other counties – Charleston and Horry, for example – to realize that this unfair formula shortchanges their constituents millions of dollars, perhaps a change can be leveraged. I know I can do it alone; I need allies.

You crossed over from an executive role in state government to a legislative role. What are some of the biggest differences, and how have you dealt with those changes?

In the executive branch, you’re always being forced to make quick decisions and you almost always in a “reactive” mode; problems arise that have to be dealt with immediately. In the legislative branch, there is the opportunity to think more strategically and proactively; the work is more methodical, incremental, collaborative and deliberative. Or to put the difference another way, in the executive branch the work comes to you – you are forced to deal with incoming – and in the legislative branch you “choose” what to spend your time on – education or Medicaid or tort reform, etc. – based on your assessment of what is in the public’s best interest.

What’s an issue or two that you plan to be heavily involved in next year’s session?

Well, first would be the EFA funding formula. But a very close second would be reforming how we tax as a state. Our tax code has 112 sales tax loopholes. There is no rhyme or reason to these tax breaks; they range from portable toilet rentals to time shares, newspapers to direct mail postage, amusement park machinery to manufactured housing. It makes no sense to have a tax system that encourages private parties to fight over obtaining public favors. When it becomes profitable for them to put time and money into lobbying politicians for favors, then that is precisely what they will do. The bottom line is that no South Carolinian should get special treatment at the expense of another and all special sales tax breaks to expire by a certain date unless a new law is passed to keep them. Some exemptions, such as the one on grocery sales, make sense and are broad-based. But since the 112 special tax breaks represent about $2.5 billion annually, closing even a fraction of them would result in a huge revenue increase. That new revenue should then be used to lower the state sales tax and the state income tax across the board so that everyone pays lower taxes, not just the politically connected. Lower taxes for everyone promotes free market entrepreneurship and discovery – the true sources of prosperity. That new revenue should under no circumstance, however, be used to increase state spending. Yes, there have been substantial budget cuts in the past two years, but state government spending grew by 41 percent in the four years prior. State government has enough money to discharge core functions if it is forced – as private households are – to spend wisely.

I also need to make sure the new ocean terminal being planned for Jasper County stays on track. Geographically, the Jasper County site has everything working in its favor. It is much closer to the ocean than Savannah’s terminal. It is also close to an excellent system of interstate highways and it is accessible by rail. And it is a surrounded by thousands of undeveloped acres that could easily support maritime and commercially related infrastructure. Moreover, South Carolina and Georgia have recognized that each has the power to stop the other’s independent development of the terminal – the South Carolina legislature even made a cooperative effort part of state law. And working together the two states have made impressive strides. Lawsuits have been dismissed, title to the port site has been conveyed by Georgia to a bi-state partnership and engineering for the terminal is underway. But there are a few legislators in South Carolina who now want to undo that state policy, believing that building a new port in Jasper County is a zero-sum game – that gains there do mean losses for the port in Charleston. That is wrong and short sighted: market studies show that over the next 15 to 20 years, shippers will need our region to annually handle millions of TEUs (“twenty-foot equivalency units,” or shipping boxes) that the ports in Charleston and Savannah are not large enough to handle. A new port in Jasper County could meet this surplus demand. If South Carolina and Georgia continue to work together, our region will become the most powerful shipping entry point on the East coast. And if we fail to build the new port, of course, the projected unmet demand, and the economic benefits of meeting it, will go elsewhere (most likely to the port in Norfolk).

Tell our readers about an interesting, but often-overlooked, place - or two - in your district that is well worth their time to visit.

Daufuskie Island is incredible. You can only get there by boat, so that’s why it’s often overlooked. On the boat ride over you see dolphins everywhere; it’s truly amazing. There are very few cars or paved roads on the island, and being there is like stepping back in time. And since there are only about 430 permanent residents, everybody knows everyone. If you’re ever in the Lowcountry, definitely make the time for a visit.

Grady Patterson: A magnificent example of the greatest generation

On the anniversary of Pearl Harbor, one of the veterans of that war, former State Treasurer Grady Patterson left this earth today.

As a father, veteran of World War Two and the Korean conflict, as well as serving in statewide office for over three decades, Patterson not only answered the call to duty in his younger years, he made service to his family, his state, and his nation the central mission of his life. In this, Patterson, part of what has been coined "the Greatest Generation" of American history, is one of the truly greatest individuals to come from that honored generation.

While the Blogland didn't have much about him that we agreed with, there is much about him that is worth honoring, and much that will be missed with his passing.

"They don't make them that way anymore" is a saying we hear very often, but in his case, it's a truth worth pondering, and a challenge to future generations of South Carolinians. It is certainly something which applies to the likes of Patterson.

For his lifelong legacy of public service, as well as setting a standard that we should all aspire to, Grady Patterson and his family have our prayers and our gratitude. We in the Blogland hope our readers will join us.

May his memory be eternal.

There's Gotta Be A Redneck Joke In This

Earlier this evening, the Blogland accepted the hospitality of Rep. Phillip Lowe, the Florence GOP's McLaughlin sisters (... and Dana too!) and other upstanding figures in Florence politics at Lowe's "Redneck Christmas Party". Off all the many GOP events attended around the state, this event was undoubtedly the most enjoyable and creative one we've been to in years.

The place was packed with assorted rednecks ... including a redneck professor who reportedly was proud of his mail order degrees, for which he paid top dollar.

Reputed Pee Dee blogger Mike Reino was not at the event. Something tells us someone meant to make sure he didn't get there.

As the photos indicate, no amount of effort or expense was spared in hosting a high-class event:

We're not sure if Social Services was called in to investigate this one:

More photos can be found via my Facebook photo album page.

Riley and Charleston: Sinking together?

In the last month, two events have turned out to be major moments in the direction of the City of Charleston: Boeing's decision to go to the Lowcountry, and the city elections.

In colonial times, Charleston was the dominant political force in the state. After the Revolution, Upstate rural residents, resenting Charleston's arrogance and willingness to accomodate the British occupiers, moved the capital to Columbia and stripped the city of its power over the rest of South Carolina.

Since then, Charleston was, like most center cities of metropolitan areas, the dominant economic and political force in its region. But in recent years, its relevance has dwindled - once more at the hands of those outside the city. This time it wasn't at the hands of a Upstate farmers and hunters, but rather long string of economic development coups - most notably Nucor Steel and Boeing - that went elsewhere in the Lowcountry.

While Joe Riley - Charleston's Mayor - has presided over the city's declining importance, his administration has lost steam from within. Three major embarassments have rocked his adminstration in recent years: the resignation of Police Chief Reuben Greenberg after a highly-publicized outburst in traffic, the arrest of a long-time family friend who embezzled $400K from his city position, and the death of nine firefighters while the former fire chief blustered "we do things OUR way".

After years of trying to get non-partisan City elections, allegedly to neutralize the vocal and growing Republican opposition in the city, Riley got his wish. Since then, all four of Riley's major allies who represented West Ashley districts - Bleecker, Evans, Morinelli, and Tinkler - are gone, replaced by council members with ties to the GOP. With another council member from solidly-Republican Daniel Island and other council member a past Riley challenger, prospects of Riley being able to push his initiatives through council with large majorities and few questions seem a lot tougher than in years past.

These recent shifts highlight the reality that neither Charleston nor Riley command the influence or respect they once did.

In the early 1990s, John Bourne, North Charleston's founding mayor was toppled by an electorate much different than the one which first seated him and established the city. Likewise, Charleston's voters and issues have changed greatly and seem far less friendly to Riley and his allies. These changed realities could create opportunities for those who have been waiting for a chance to topple Riley and could make the 2011 mayoral election one to watch.

Representative Anne Hutto and Work Zone Safety

On the way to class tonight, yours truly was traveling though my company's I-26 work zone.

This work zone, with a posted speed limit of 55, is a place where my company has had our vehicles, safety devices, signs, and even one worker hit by out-of-control cars where speed and/or alcohol was often found to be a contributing factor.

Tonight's work zone safety star was on I-26 Eastbound, at about 5.15pm, wasn't hard to spot. She passed me like a bat out of hell just before the Aviation Avenue interchange, going at speeds far in excess of the approximately 55-58 that I was driving, swerving from lane to lane to get around cars.

Tonight's work zone safety star was driving a burgundy Volvo SUV with a legislator tag numbered 111, and the driver looked a lot like James Island Representative Anne Peterson Hutto.

Even after leaving the work zone, she kept driving much the same way, until she got boxed in by traffic near the Dorchester Road exit.

Having seen this, we in the Blogland would like to know how she feels about work zone safety issues.

Or maybe she feels that traffic and work zone laws are just for everyone else?

Perhaps she was inspired by this video:

Inside Intervew: State Senator Larry Martin

This year, Republican Senator Larry Martin marks his 30th year of legislative service. Beginning his career in the House, he was elected to the Senate in 1992. Representing Pickens County, where he grew up, in the Senate, he chairs Rules Committee.

Recently, he agreed to do a little Q&A for our readers, so we threw a few questions his way, and here’s what he had to say back:

Thirty years is a long time in state politics, and a lot has changed. What are some of the biggest changes you’ve seen and how do you feel about them?

The biggest change in the Legislature and in state politics since the late 1970’s has been the rise of the Republican Party. Some Republicans today question the sincerity of party switchers like me that began their involvement in politics in the 1970s as Democrats. But, that was practically the only game in town when I began. Conservatives were widely involved in the Democratic Party at the state and local level but that substantively changed in the 1980s and forward.

Another big change that has occurred is that our state’s economy is much more diversified than it was thirty years ago. Also, our higher educational system, particularly the research institutions, is contributing more to our state’s economy as is our technical education system. We’re also seeing a record numbers of students enrolled in higher education, particularly in our technical colleges. This bodes well for our future.

What’s an issue or two which are important to you, and what would you like to see done about them?

I’m once again sponsoring the tort reform legislation, and that’s a very important bill for the coming session and for South Carolina’s economic competitiveness. Also, I’m hopeful that the TRAC Commission will produce some meaningful recommendations that will enable us to enact a more balanced tax structure for the state.

Your career has been in manufacturing management in the textile industry, an industry which was once the bread-and-butter of the Upstate. What is the future of this industry in the Upstate?

A smaller textile industry presence will continue in the Upstate. It’s a tough, international environment that we face in competing with countries that don’t always play by the same rules we do. I also happen to believe that more than the remaining jobs in our domestic textile industry is at stake in discussing the industry’s health; it is vital to our national security that we maintain the capacity to produce fabric for a wide array of uses, particularly for defense, health care, etc.

After so many years serving in Columbia, do you have any plans to hang it up and retire in the near future?

It was never a goal of mine to serve a long time in the Legislature, and it has my policy not to make any plans beyond the next election cycle. The people of Pickens County have been extremely supportive and kind as evidenced by the support that I received in last year’s primary. Although the 2012 election cycle is three years away, I’m pretty confident that I’ll run again. I’m very involved in the day to day operation of the Senate and enjoy serving my constituency on a personal level. So, I’d like to continue to use what little influence I might have attained to make the process work for the betterment of our state and for the folks that I’m privileged to represent.

Is the Office of Lt. Governor relevant?

Recent news that Bill Connor, a GOP candidate for Lt. Governor, signed the S.C. Association for Taxpayers' "Taxpayer Protection Pledge", didn't really come as a surprise in the race. Generally Republican office-seekers put their names on these pledges to help boost their appeal to the fiscally-conservative voters who make up a large part of the GOP primary electorate.

It's certainly commendable that Connor would pledge loyalty to fiscally-conservative positions - an act that will probably be duplicated by the other two GOP candidates for the office - but considering the fairly limited powers of the Lieutenant Governor, how much real importance does signing such a pledge have?

In recent years, the power of this office has been reduced considerably. After former Lt. Governor Nick Theodore left office, the Senate removed a number of duties and powers, including the ability to appoint conference committee members. Recent restructuring proposals have sought to make this office co-elected with the Governor and some of those proposals even called for the Lt. Governor to be removed from serving in the Senate at all.

There are two schools of thought with regard to the future of this office:

  • One school argues that the office should be removed from the ballot, possibly even from serving in the Senate entirely. This would reduce the office to a "spare tire" to fill a gubernatorial vacancy.

  • The other school argues that in the Senate, where members represent single-member districts, thus serving localized interests, having a presiding officer who is elected statewide serves to help moderate those influences, further enhancing the chamber's intended mission as the more deliberative body. Many who hold this position would like to see the office retained on the ballot and given more legislative powers.

The Blogland endorses the latter point of view. As none of the three GOP candidates for the office have advocated it's removal from the ballot, as well as argued for the office to be more pro-active in a number of roles, it can be inferred the candidates would, to some degree, agree with this position.

Connor's signing of the SCAT pledge has raised an issue worth asking about the future of this office. It will be interesting to see how much those who want to win this office are willing to talk about it.

Recent county courthouse financial abuses call for greater transparency

This year, two County Clerks of Court have resigned from office following allegations of financial impropriety. In the spring, Beaufort's clerk was removed and charged with embezzlment. Last week, Union County's clerk resigned after child support checks began bouncing, "seeking forgiveness from God for (his) shortcomings".

Last year, the Anderson County Clerk of Court was
arrested for six counts of failure to collect taxes, account for taxes or pay over taxes to a government agency. Berkeley County clerk Mary Brown drug out an audit of her office, which looked into issues which included personal use of office credit cards, for nearly four years. Problems with mismanagement of the Dorchester County Clerk of Court have been discussed here previously as well.

But these kinds of problems are nothing new. In years past, Probate Judges in Darlington and Dorchester Counties were removed from office, accused of spending of money in trust accounts, and a former Clerk of Court in York County was removed in the early 1990s.

As South Carolina's Clerks of Court and Judges of Probate are elected offices, they enjoy considerable autonomy in the administration of considerable amounts of money which are held in court-related bank accounts. While many functions of county governments are under the oversight of both hired or elected executives and elected Council members, there is little that can be done to look over the shoulders of these courthouse officials, until the problems grow the point of criminal investigations and lawsuits.

Most of these officals are honest and hardworking, and there's no reason a few bad apples should be allowed to spoil the bunch. But as the accounts overseen by Clerks of Court and Probate Judges are often related to child support payments to families and financial trust accounts, protecting these funds is important to many families around the state.

Recently, efforts at greater transparency in local and state government have made considerable headway. Perhaps legislators should consider extending the ongoing transparency efforts to providing some outside oversight over these offices as well.