Category : State Government

(The State) Cindi Ross Scopp–South Carolina Needs Thoughtful Overall Tax Reform not Simplistic Tax Cuts

Like a good stock portfolio, a good tax system relies on a balance, with different types of taxes behaving differently throughout the economic cycle, and affecting different types of people in different ways. For both stability and fairness, economists agree that the best state tax system relies about equally on the income tax, the sales tax and the property tax. South Carolina already relies less on income taxes than the sales or property tax. Cutting income taxes by more than 15 percent would further unbalance our tax system.

Our sales tax, by contrast, is the 16th highest in the nation. The main reason it’s so high is that it’s all about mollifying special interests by giving them special tax breaks. We exempt more than we tax: We have around 120 exemptions written into law, and on top of that we tax far fewer services than most states. House members say they can cut the state sales tax from 6 percent to 3 percent if they address both of those problems, and technically that’s true. The problem is that they’re not going to tax all goods and services, and they probably shouldn’t, because some prevent taxing the same thing twice, and some of the biggest exemptions (think electricity and groceries) serve primarily to make the sales tax a little less regressive than it otherwise would be.

Still, any effort to eliminate some exemptions and tax more services — and use the additional revenue to cut the tax rate — would be a smart step toward a lower, flatter tax system, one that is less volatile and more fair. Which is the opposite of where cutting the income tax rates — and creating yet another large tax exemption — would take us.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Ethics / Moral Theology, State Government, Taxes

(Yesterday’s Local paper Front Page) South Carolina lawmakers consider electrocuting death row inmates if lethal injection drugs unavailable

South Carolina lawmakers are considering a proposal that would allow the state to execute death row inmates using the electric chair — something that hasn’t been done since 2008 — if lethal injection drugs are not available.

Under current law, criminals sentenced to the death penalty in South Carolina can choose to die by lethal injection or electrocution.

Like other states, South Carolina has not had access to the necessary drugs to attempt a lethal injection since the last of its stock expired in 2013. That has left the state unable to carry out the ultimate punishment.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Capital Punishment, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, State Government

(NPR) Down Syndrome Families Divided Over Abortion Ban

Kelly Kuhns, 36, lives with her husband and their three children outside Columbus. The youngest, 2-year-old Oliver, was born with Down syndrome.

Kuhns, who works as a labor and delivery nurse, says a prenatal test during her pregnancy with Oliver revealed a mutation called Trisomy 21.

“When my provider called me and told me that the test came back positive for Down syndrome, I was definitely shocked. It was not what I was expecting at all,” Kuhns says. “I grieved — deeply.”

But Kuhns says she never considered ending the pregnancy.

“He’s still a baby. He’s still worthy of a life just like everybody else,” she says.

Read it all.

Posted in Children, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Science & Technology, State Government

A S Haley on the Latest South Carolina Supreme Court Decisions–A Triumph of Injustice and Irresponsibility

If evidence were needed to demonstrate the fecklessness of the justices who are responsible for the mess the South Carolina Supreme Court has made of its church property law in this proceeding, the latest pair of rulings on the petitions would suffice, all on their own. Consider the following facts:

1. There was never any decision of a majority of the Court in the case. In five separately written opinions, only two Justices (including Justice Hearn, herself an Episcopalian) agreed on reversing the decision below in order to hand all of the disputed church property to the Episcopal Church and its Potemkin diocese in South Carolina. Two Justices agreed on letting the decision below stand, albeit for different reasons. And the fifth — Chief Justice Beatty — simply punted by saying he would enforce a Dennis Canon trust (but not for the reasons stated by Justices Hearn and Pleicones) only against those parishes who had “acceded” to the national canons. (Never mind that virtually no parish had ever done so since the Canon’s adoption in 1979, or that any such involuntary trust would have to be revocable at will under South Carolina law.)

2. All five of the Justices misunderstood the motion to recuse Justice Kaye Hearn. They appear to have regarded it as wholly independent of the motion for a rehearing, when it was not. The reason is that granting the request for a rehearing would have accomplished the same things requested again in the motion to recuse: the Justices would have been able to decide the case anew. Their prior opinions would be replaced by any new ones written on rehearing, and Justice Hearn’s prior opinion would no longer be of any account. But they treated the motion to recuse just one Justice as a request to do all these things independently of any rehearing, which makes no sense, and appeared to congratulate themselves on their unanimity in striking down a straw man.

3. Thus they each (including Justice Hearn herself!) ruled that the motion to recuse came too late, since the full Court had already rendered its non-decision in the case. The motion to recuse, however, was aimed only at her future participation in the case; the past is water under the bridge, and could be corrected, if at all, only by granting a rehearing. (For her part, Justice Hearn mooted the motion to recuse by announcing on her own that she would not participate in further proceedings in the case.)

4. But not before voting to deny the motion to recuse!

Read it carefully and read it all.

Posted in * Anglican - Episcopal, * South Carolina, - Anglican: Analysis, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Parish Ministry, State Government, Stewardship

(Sunday [London] Times) ‘They’re here, then they just die’: opioid addiction kills 175 Americans a day

At first glance, Manchester, New Hampshire, seems a typical New England town. A pleasant, low-key sort of place, free of extreme poverty or urban decay.

You do not have to look far, however, to see something is amiss: this is a town firmly in the grip of the opioid crisis that is devastating America.

Dotted around the central squares and parks are small groups of people visibly suffering from addiction. Yesterday, hundreds of residents took part in a “rally for recovery” in the town centre, gathering to highlight the plight of their friends and neighbours.

On the walls of the Hope addiction recovery clinic, a few hundred yards away, are pictures from a kayaking expedition. Karla Gallagher, who works at the clinic, cannot look at it without becoming close to tears.

“We lose these people all the time,” she said, pointing to a picture of a smiling young girl on a canoe. “We lost her. One day they’re here and then they just die.”

Read it all (requires subscription).

Posted in America/U.S.A., Anthropology, City Government, Death / Burial / Funerals, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, State Government, Theology

(PewR) God or the divine is referenced in every state constitution

The U.S. Constitution never explicitly mentions God or the divine, but the same cannot be said of the nation’s state constitutions. In fact, God or the divine is mentioned at least once in each of the 50 state constitutions and nearly 200 times overall, according to a Pew Research Center analysis.

Read it all.

Posted in America/U.S.A., History, Religion & Culture, State Government

(AP) South Carolina Gas Tax Increase Becomes Law After Senate Overrides Vet

The South Carolina Senate has voted to override Gov. Henry McMaster’s veto of the gas tax that raises money to fix roads, meaning the measure will now become law.

The final vote was 32-12. It came nearly two hours after the House also overrode the veto by 95-18 vote.

The move means the measure is now finally approved, and will officially become law on July 1

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Economy, Energy, Natural Resources, State Government, Taxes

(Local Paper Front Page) Some bet on casinos to fix South Carolina’s crumbling infrastructure

With the chances of a gas-tax increase to pay for road repairs dwindling, advocates of bringing casinos to South Carolina think they have found a winning hand.

Republican Gov. Henry McMaster declared last week that he would veto raising the state fuel tax for the first time in 30 years to fix crumbling roads and bridges. He favors a plan to borrow $1 billion, which would cover a small portion of the state’s repair tab and comes a year after lawmakers already agreed to borrow $2 billion for roads.

But there’s another roads-funding plan, one favored by a majority of South Carolinians, that’s on the table.

Casinos in the Myrtle Beach area and along the borders of North Carolina and Georgia could have South Carolina cashing in a potential $500 million a year while not raising gas pump prices or adding to the state debt load, legalized gambling backers say.

Read it all.

Posted in * South Carolina, Gambling, State Government, Taxes, Travel

South Carolina lawmakers considering allowing teens to get protection orders tied to dating violence

Lawmakers are considering allowing teenagers as young as 16 to get court orders of protection — without parental consent — when they are victims of domestic violence.

A proposed bill would also require teen-dating violence education in public schools and would increase penalties for those convicted of associated crimes.

Students from Ridge View High School in Columbia recently testified before a Statehouse panel supporting legislation that better defines teen dating violence.

Read it all from the local paper.

Posted in * South Carolina, Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, Sexuality, State Government, Teens / Youth, Violence

Responses to the Washington Supreme Court Ruling (2): Jacob Lupfer

The plain truth is that the Washington religious liberty case is going to be resolved in favor of the proprietor of the business, as it should be.

We need to be as deferential as we can to the rights of conscience, especially as they pertain to small/family businesses. I wouldn’t want the state to harshly fine me if I declined to arrange flowers for the Westboro Baptist Church’s annual banquet.

Progressives are fighting a losing battle, and the optics of financially ruining a 72-year-old grandmother are terrible. If progressives are on the right side of history and we are just moments away from same sex unions being celebrated as marriages by virtually everyone of every faith, then find another florist and leave this poor lady alone.

Read it all.

I will take comments on this submitted by email only to KSHarmon[at]mindspring[dot]com.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, --Civil Unions & Partnerships, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Consumer/consumer spending, Corporations/Corporate Life, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Marriage & Family, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, Religion & Culture, Sexuality, State Government, Theology, Theology: Scripture

Lethal opioid ”˜China white’ cases on the rise in South Carolina

South Carolina had a larger number of cases than its neighboring states involving an increasingly popular synthetic drug that in its purest form can kill someone by just touching it.

There were 90 cases involving seized fentanyl in South Carolina in 2015, according to a recently released report by a congressional commission that monitors and investigates the national security implications of the trade and economic relationship between China and United States.

The report singled out China as the United States’ primary source of fentanyl, which was referred to as a “cheap, synthetically produced opioid” ”“ a painkiller that is about 50 times stronger than heroin and 100 times stronger than morphine.

Read more here: http://www.thestate.com/news/local/crime/article132464299.html#storylink=cpy

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Anthropology, Drugs/Drug Addiction, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, State Government, Theology

A Prayer for an Election from the American Book of Common Prayer

Almighty God, to whom we must account for all our powers and privileges: Guide the people of the United States…[and of my community[ in the election of officials and representatives; that, by faithful administration and wise laws, the rights of all may be protected and our nation be enabled to fulfill your purposes; through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Ethics / Moral Theology, House of Representatives, Office of the President, Politics in General, Senate, Spirituality/Prayer, State Government, Theology

(BI) U.S. public pension plans are headed for a disaster on the current trajectory

The combined debt held by U.S. public pension plans will top $1.7 trillion next year, according to a just-released report from Moody’s Investors Services.

This “pension tsunami” has already forced towns like Stockton, California and Detroit, Michigan into bankruptcy. Perhaps no government mismanaged their pension as badly as Puerto Rico, where a $43 billion pension debt forced the commonwealth to seek protection from the federal government after having defaulted on its obligations to bondholders ”” a default which is expected to spread to retirees in the form of benefit cuts.

While the disastrous outcome of Puerto Rico’s pension plan ”” which is projected to completely run out of assets by 2019 ”” represents the worst-case scenario, the same series of events that led to its demise can be found in most public pension plans nationwide.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, Aging / the Elderly, Anthropology, City Government, Corporations/Corporate Life, Credit Markets, Economy, Ethics / Moral Theology, Labor/Labor Unions/Labor Market, Pensions, Personal Finance, Politics in General, Psychology, State Government, Stock Market, Theology

(NYT) A Somber Charleston, South Carolina, Reflects on Race as 2 Murder Trials Begin

CHARLESTON, S.C. ”” Seventy-four days separated the fatal bursts of gunfire: the eight rounds a white police officer fired at Walter L. Scott, a black man in North Charleston, and then the shots that killed nine black churchgoers at the Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church here.

And now, seven days will separate the trials of the officer, Michael T. Slager, and of Dylann S. Roof, the white supremacist accused of carrying out the church killings.

Jury selection in the state trial of Mr. Slager, who was fired after the shooting, will begin on Monday; one week later, the same process is scheduled to begin in the federal case of Mr. Roof. Prosecutors, who are seeking the death penalty for Mr. Roof, rebuffed his offer to plead guilty.

The proceedings ”” unusual in a country where, for different reasons, few police officers or mass killers stand trial ”” will draw renewed attention to, and more reflection within, the Charleston area, where many residents still struggle with killings that rattled the nation.

Read it all.

Posted in * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * South Carolina, Anthropology, City Government, Ethics / Moral Theology, Law & Legal Issues, Police/Fire, Politics in General, Race/Race Relations, Religion & Culture, State Government, Theology, Violence

(PAW) Lesley McAllister confronts the challenge of assisted suicide and a right to die Law

McAllister is adamant that taking drugs to end her life would not be suicide. “In suicide,” she says, “you’re choosing between life and death. With the End of Life Option Act, you’re choosing the time and manner of your death, knowing that it is inevitably coming within a short period of time. The law allows you to have a little bit of control over when, where, and how.” She would rather die at home, with an opportunity to say goodbye to family and friends, than in a hospital.

Advocates of right-to-die laws say control, or at least the sense of it, is important to the terminally ill. What people seem to want is the comfort of knowing that they have a way out if pain becomes unbearable or their condition deteriorates too far….

Professor Robert George, who has written extensively on philosophy and ethics, argues that statutes such as California’s diminish respect for the sanctity of life. “Opposition to medicalized killing” is “grounded in a recognition of … the idea that no one has ”˜a life unworthy of life,’ or is ”˜better off dead’ or a ”˜useless eater,’ ” he writes in an email. “It reflects the belief that nothing should be done that gives credit to or encourages the adoption of these beliefs, even by those suffering pain and tempted to despair.” George rebuts those who argue that individuals should be free to determine their own fates, calling medical assistance in dying “a policy question that implicates many aspects of the common good of our civil society and legal order.” Many who end their lives, he says, are driven by fear and depression. He urges that people facing terminal illness be provided with palliative care and counseling to help make their last months comfortable and peaceful.

Read it all.

Posted in * Christian Life / Church Life, * Culture-Watch, * Economics, Politics, * International News & Commentary, America/U.S.A., Anthropology, Children, Death / Burial / Funerals, Ethics / Moral Theology, Health & Medicine, History, Law & Legal Issues, Life Ethics, Marriage & Family, Parish Ministry, Pastoral Theology, Politics in General, Psychology, State Government, Theology