We started with an example of arrogance from business, poker playing from the Legislature and politics rather than governing from the Governor’s Office: Amazon.com and their unfair sales tax exemption drive. After having indignantly picked up their ball and left South Carolina, it appears Amazon.com got another bite at the apple of unfair sales tax exemptions. Telling our elected officials that they were ready to “forgive and forget,” Amazon.com said they would be more than willing to restart the construction of their distribution center in Lexington County, as long as the Legislature gave them what they wanted. Apparently receiving free land to build on, tax exemptions on equipment purchases, tax credits for employees and the like was not enough for Amazon.com (who has pulled out of other states when they were told they had to collect sales tax). We all want more jobs to come to South Carolina, but when we lure businesses to locate here, we should be looking for good corporate citizens, not arrogant businesses intent on sucking our state as dry as they can. We also pointed out that some of the people we elected to represent our interests in the State House were instead playing games with their votes on this issue. Nearly 50 representative switched their votes from “no” to “yes,” a good number stating that they thought Amazon.com was bluffing. Really? How about we demand that our legislature stop seeing who has the best poker face and start looking our for our interest. I ease up slightly on some of our legislators because some said they switched their vote based on addition promises from Amazon.com of more jobs and a possible second location in the Upstate. One final thought about the Legislature. Guess which vote in the House was not required to be “On the Record?” Finally, our governor has repeatedly expressed her opposition to granting the sales tax exemption for Amazon.com, but has decided that, not only will she not veto the bill which would change her bark to a bite, she will let it pass without signing it. In other words, when faced with a tough decision that could have real political ramifications, she decided to sit on the sidelines. This is not her finest hour.
Protection of our elections was second on our agenda, Saturday as the Governor just signed a new law that was said to be designed to give us stronger protection against voter fraud at the polls, the Voter Id Act. Even though there has not been any real examples of widespread voter fraud at the point where people check in to vote, the Legislature decided they needed to make it more secure. Now, in order to vote, you must show either a SC driver’s license, SC photo ID, military ID or US passport. This sounds great at first, being able to match the id with a face as well as the address on the id with the one in the poll list is a great idea, unfortunately, adding military ids and passports as acceptable ids makes things less secure, as neither military ids or passports have the voter’s current address listed. This law also adds a level of difficulty to votes who are seniors or invalids whose driver’s licenses have expired. In order for the one segment of the population that consistently votes, they will have to visit the DMV, not an easy task for many. So the Legislature “fixed” a problem that wasn’t there with a solution that is flawed and makes voting more difficult.
The final piece of SC legislation we addressed Saturday is focused on reducing dropouts. A bill currently in the House would suspend driver’s licenses from kids who drop out of school or have too many unexcused absences. If the student has not gotten their license or permit yet, they would be prohibited from getting one prior to 18. If the dropout returned or started GED classes , their license would be re-instated. The problem with this law is that while it might bring some back into school for a while, it does not address the underlying reasons we have such a low on-time graduation rate.
We ended the show with a nod to the raging debate in Washington about the Debt Ceiling. We can debate what Washington should be doing with our tax dollars, but the one thing there should be no debate on is whether we are going to pay for the things we already committed to . Raising the debt ceiling should not be about anything other than will we pay the bills we have now. There are 6 months before the next fiscal year, raise the ceiling and then fight tooth and nail toward reducing spending and increasing revenue for next year. Check out this non-partisan analysis of the debt ceiling crisis.