Thursday, March 05, 2009
The more the legislature meets....
With the tough economy getting even tougher for people like those at the steel mill in Georgetown that has been recently shut down for a while and the deadlines for if and how South Carolina will spend some of its federal stimulus package money looming, members are addressing some interested issues.
First, there is the measure allowing 18 year olds to get tattoos without parental permission. On the surface this seems to make sense. If a young man or woman is 18 and living on their own, say by serving the military, they do not need their parent’s permission to get a tattoo. If you are old enough to vote, enter legal contracts, and fight and die for your country, you ought to be old enough to buy a tattoo, even a beer for that matter. But, there is no chance the latter will ever come to pass in South Carolina. The only problem VUI has with the legislation is how many 18 year olds are out there suffering under the current law? Does the proposed change justify the time and work of the General Assembly?
Then there was the sign bill defeated recently sponsored by Mac Toole of Lexington County. While VUI acknowledges that far too many roads, bridges, overpasses and stretches of highways are named after politicians for the strangest of reasons, the General Assembly was correct to defeat Toole’s bill. The changeover to his proposal of only naming such areas after soldiers or law enforcement members who died in action would have been costly and it would have denied local communities the right to name such places after people that they saw fit. For example, it bothered VUI that Toole left firefighters and other first responders out of his legislation.
The legislature is moving right along on a measure to make the Employment Security Commission and the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs part of the Governor’s Cabinet. While those two agencies have had their troubles in the past few months, VUI hesitates embracing the legislation because of the current Governor’s unwillingness to deal decisively with the problems in the Department of Social Services, which is within his cabinet. If the Governor will not act decisively with an agency in his cabinet, what makes the General Assembly think that he will address problems with two new agencies in his cabinet?
The next two measures being considered by the General Assembly this week frankly make VUI think that the General Assembly should meet less. Those people simply have too much time on their hands.
The first, sponsored by Senator Darrell Jackson of Richland County, proposes making it illegal for adults to smoke in their own automobiles if a child under ten is in the automobile. Talk about getting into the micromanagement of people’s lives! VUI wonders if Senator Jackson would be eager to support a measure that made it illegal to play music with violent or explicit lyrics with a child in the car. How about eating a cheeseburger or some fried food in front of a child? While Senator Jackson is to be commended for his work at his Atlas Road church, this proposal of his is legislation at its worst. At best it is wasting legislative time, at worst it is a stark invasion of privacy.
On the other side of the aisle there is the Republican backed measure to allow people to have a handgun under their seats in their automobiles. Again, one wonders how many people are suffering because this is not the case? South Carolinians can already carry a firearm in their automobiles in a trunk, console or glove box. Those with a Concealed Weapons Permit can carry one on their person in their automobile. Criminals are not going to pause and say, “wait a minute, that weapon I have laying on the passenger seat needs to be under the seat.” It is just another example of legislators trying to pass legislation for the mere purpose of looking like they are actually doing something.
The late Coke Stevenson, who was Lt. Governor and Governor of Texas, was asked why he supported moving to make the Texas legislature only meet once every two years. Stevenson, known at the time as “Mr. Texas,” simply replied, “The more the damn legislature meets, the more damn laws they pass.” Amen, Governor.