Legislators considering "bypass" to implement redistricting and Voter ID?

When it comes to reapportionment, South Carolina Republicans almost have complete control of the game. But it's the one part they don't have control over that could end up being a critical stumbling block: preclearance by the Obama administration's U.S. Justice Department.

"Preclearance" is a process defined in the Voting Rights Act of 1965, most recently renewed under the Bush administration in 2006, which requires that certain specified states and localities submit election-related plans, such as election districts, voting laws and precinct locations, to the Justice Department for review. If these changes are not approved, elections can be postponed or action taken by the Justice Department. Under Section 5 of the Voting Rights Act, nine southern states and a number of counties and municipalities are considered "covered jurisdictions" which must receive Justice Department approval of election law changes.

State Rep. Alan "Ferris Bueller" Clemmons, who chairs the House subcommittee overseeing redistricting, may be planning a bypass around the Justice Department:

We have been considering the option of seeking Voting Rights Act Section 5 approval of controversial voting issues like Voter ID and Redistricting through the Federal Courts for some time. The chief benefit of having such important issues heard by the court is that they will be considered more on legal merit and less through the political sieve of the Obama Administration.

This approach would use an exemption in the Voting Rights Act that would allow South Carolina to have its reapportionment plans, as well as voter ID legislation, reviewed by courts, allowing it to bypass the Obama administration.

Zais brings transparency to State Education Board meetings

State Superintendent of Education Superintendent Mick Zais has implemented a step for concerned parents and citizens to tune into how the state Department is being run with the addition of streaming video of State Board of Education meetings, which can be viewed on the Department's website.

Those who want to see the video broadcasts can tune into http://ed.sc.gov/agency/stateboard/video/.

Here's what Zais had to say about this new service:

Rep. Horne works to protect seniors

Elder abuse is a major problem in South Carolina. One of the biggest areas of risk is in-home care providers who use their access to homes, often unsupervised, to engage in a number of abusive and exploitative activities.  Dorchester County State Rep. Jenny Horne is working to address this problem with House Bill 3012, which would require those providing these services to be licensed care-givers.

Most occupations in the health care field from nursing assistants to doctors are regulated, with licensure and registration processes in place, including professional training and development, as well as background checks. But in South Carolina, in-home care providers who do not perform medical services are exempt from licensing and regulation. Presently 29 states have standards for licensure or certification for in-home care givers. These include much of the Southeast, including Florida, Georgia, North Carolina and Virginia.

Rep. Horne explained her concerns on this issue with the Blogland:

We won't tell you how old she is today

... because sources report she either paid us not to say, or threatened us into silence.

Either way, it's something that today's birthday girl and one of the most powerful politicos in Charleston County could do - Charleston County GOP Chair Lin Bennett.

Be sure to wish her a very happy birthday!

Analyze This

With a statement like this, we're not sure what to say, so talk amongst yourselves.

“Brothers won’t work hard like Mexicans will so we need to make sure enough Mexicans are here,”

- State Senator Robert Ford

Reining in school superintendent severance packages

The issue of school district superintendents being given hefty severance packages isn't just a problem here in South Carolina:

In 2007, the Wayne Township School Board and then-Superintendent Terry Thompson agreed to a renegotiated contract that provided a generous retirement package for whenever Thompson decided to step down.

But it wasn't until this month that board members realized just how lucrative that deal was, to the tune of more than $1 million.

- IndyStar.com, 1/28/2011

In South Carolina, this will often happen when the balance of power shifts on a school board and members want to pay off a superintendent so they can quietly move their cronies into well-paying jobs. After all, it's easier to pull off a scam when nobody who knows is talking.

With such profiteering in a highly-politicized environment by school boards and administrators, it's hard to see who is looking out for the school children. But Florence State Representative Phillip Lowe is working to get the problem under control, filing House Bill 3297.

Rep. Pope's new legislative assistant

Meet Jacob Pope, who spent a day at the State House last week with his father, York County State Representative Tommy Pope:

Blocking Sharia Law or dodging voting records?

Recently, FITSNews felt the need to rake Senator Mike Fair over the coals for his efforts to keep Islamic law from being used in the United States:

Fair’s bill is the latest manifestation of the so-called “Sharia Law Ban” movement, which presumes that radical jihadists are seeking to supplant American law with Islamic law.

Obviously that isn’t happening … which makes this yet another example of South Carolina RINOs offering up imaginary bogeymen in an effort to prevent you from focusing on their abysmal fiscal records.

If you want to review the legislation for yourself, Senator Fair's legislation is Senate Bill 444, and there's a related House Bill (3490) on the matter, sponsored by Rep. Wendy Nanney (R-Greenville).

FITS alleges this effort is a smoke screen, but is it really? Let's look at some of these issues ...

Turning 40 ... with the 80s

Turning 40 today wasn't so bad with a little help from my friends from across South Carolina, as well as family, co-workers, students and faculty members. There I was, in an 80s throwback outfit: Rayban sunglasses, Members Only jacket, skinny tie and Vans checkerboard shoes, getting roasted by friends and family.

In another flashback to teenage days, the cops got called and three cars of guests were wrecked (and kudos to Congressman Tim Scott for keeping a rather upset elderly driver company for most of the time he was visiting at the event). But in this case, it wasn't the booze - just hydroplaning by cars driving by.

Here's two people in my life who made it out for the event My 12 year-old daughter Bonnie (on the right) and my nine year-old sister Kelly (on the left).

But wait, there's more. My oldest daughter Cecilia will be making me a grandparent in May or June.

Since the Dems are already taking cheap shots (no doubt mad at not getting invited to the party) at Scott for his attempt to sing Journey, may as well share the video of the performance:

Happy Birthday to me

Yours truly will be turning 40 tomorrow. We were warned this day was coming, but wow ... it's another when that day actually arrives.

But who says we have to grow up?

We'll be celebrating Blogland style all day and night long. Stay tuned for pics from the event - and possibly a request for bond money.

More inmates on Facebook and using phones?

Glenn Smith at the Post and Courier lets us see just how pervasive the problem of inmates using cell phones and other technology is with more news of inmates showing up online with a follow-up story on the issue:

Michael Jason Maxwell killed a Goose Creek man with a shotgun. Tony Enriquez took a teenager’s life for a pack of smokes. Tommie “Ricky” Tant shot up a man’s truck during a confrontation in North Charleston.

All are serving time in South Carolina prisons for their crimes. And all found a way to get around prison rules and communicate with folks on the outside through online social media.

Enriquez, serving life without parole for murder, chose Facebook to express himself, as did Tant, finishing a two-year stint for assault with intent to kill. Maxwell was more old-school, posting his profile on MySpace.

Too bad none of these guys write about the more sordid details of life in prison, which might actually serve as a deterrent to those in their social circles who are still outside of prison. But we guess nobody wants to brag about that stuff.

We're still waiting to see what the holdup is that keeps South Carolina from being allowed to implement cell phone jamming in our prisons. South Carolina is one of thirty-one states which have requested the ability to take this step.

Mark your calendar: 2/8, Senate special election candidates' forum

And a week after the one in Fort Mill, here's another candidates' forum for the GOP candidates seeking the Senate seat being vacated by Congressman Mick Mulvaney:

You are cordially invited to attend the Sun City Republican Club - Senate District 16 Candidate Forum at the Sun City Lake House in Indian Land On Tuesday, February 8th at 7:30 PM. This event is free and open to the public.

All candidates filed to run in the Republican Primary on February 22nd have confirmed their participation in this forum.

The Senate District 16 Republican Primary Candidates are: Brian Carnes (Indian Land); Greg Gregory (Lancaster); Rob McCoy (Lancaster); Wendy Petzle (Fort Mill); and Mike Short (Fort Mill).

Anne Hutto owes someone fifty bucks

Former State Representative Anne Peterson Hutto is becoming the new "Grey Ghost" of South Carolina politics, bee-bopping around at legislative events in Columbia as if she hadn't gotten her tail booted out of the General Assembly back in November.

Tonight, as she has reportedly been doing since the legislature resumed session without her, she attended several events in Columbia which were intended for legislators and staff members only, including the Carolinas AGC legislative reception:

CAGC invites South Carolina General Contractors, Specialty Contractors and Supplier/Service companies to attend and meet the SC Legislators and their staff members for heavy hors d'oeuvres and an open bar. This is a great networking opportunity! Please join us.

The website for this event says admission for non-members is $50. We're betting that she's not a Carolinas AGC member, and she's certainly not a legislator or legislative staff member, so maybe her check is in the mail.

But we're not holding our breath(alyzer) on this one.

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.

Don't miss it!

Speaking of birthdays ...

Trey Walker, longtime S.C. politico and Deputy Chief of Staff to Governor Haley, has a birthday today. If you know the guy, take a few minutes to wish him a happy birthday!

Turning 40?

According to reports from multiple sources, the editor/publisher/psycho of the Blogland will be turning 40 this month.

When asked for comment, Earl Capps admitted the allegations, confirming the date of said milestone would be reached this Saturday, February 5th.

Other reports about efforts to embarass the hell out of him for this occasion have been circulating, but nothing has been confirmed.