Memorial Day

I want you to close your eyes and picture in your mind the soldier at Valley Forge, as he holds his musket in his bloody hands.
 
He stands barefoot in the snow, starved from lack of food, wounded from months of battle and emotionally scarred from the eternity away from his family surrounded by nothing but death and carnage of war.
 
He stands though, with fire in his eyes and victory on his breath. He looks at us now in anger and disgust and tells us this…
 
I gave you a birthright of freedom born in the Constitution and now your children graduate too illiterate to read it.
 
I fought in the snow barefoot to give you the freedom to vote and you stay at home because it rains.
 
I left my family destitute to give you the freedom of speech and you remain silent on critical issues, because it might be politically incorrect.
 
I orphaned my children to give you a government to serve you and it has stolen democracy from the people.
 
It’s the soldier, not the reporter who gives you the freedom of the press.
 
It’s the soldier, not the poet who gives you the freedom of speech.
 
It’s the soldier, not the campus organizer who allows you to demonstrate.
 
It’s the soldier, who salutes the flag, serves the flag, whose coffin is draped with the flag that allows the protester to burn the flag!
                       
Thanks to the soldiers who paid the ultimate price for our freedom of speech, even the blogsphere!

immigration legislation, our last bite at the apple

On Thursday (05.22.08) the Senate voted again to put H. 4400 on special order and interrupted debate for immediate consideration on Tuesday (05.27.08)
                       
We worked on several bills this week, may good worthy projects, but the 1,000 pound orangutan in the middle of the chamber is immigration.
                              
Are there any “poison pills” or loopholes? So far, I haven’t been able to find anything worthy of voting against it. I’ve always voted against weak bills on immigration. We can’t take this issue incrementally, this is the last chomp at the apple. There is a very tender agreement with Senate & House Leadership with this amendment. Governor Sanford hasn’t weighed in publicly, but my sources say the office is cautiously optimistic.
                                     
I’ve been scrutinizing over the proposed amendment this weekend and am confident this is the best proposal we’ve seen to date. This bill mandates the strengths of the Arizona legislation. Why not pass the exact AZ law? The Arizona law’s main bludgeon is the revocation of the Arizona’s state license. SC does not have a state business license, so we created an “implied” license to hire. This virtual license is nothing any business needs to apply for or pay for, but this “license to hire” will be stripped if the employer fails to comply with the required verifications. AZ has no fines, yet the effects of the AZ legislation has caused voluntary deportation by illegals.
                      
Here’s some highlights. Here is a link to the complete summary compiled by Senate Staff. Since the actual amendment hasn’t been read across the desk, I’m going to refrain from publishing it as some “tweaking” may occur over the weekend, but stay tuned. When the final draft is introduced, I’ll let ya’ll know.
                   
-The proposed bill:
-creates a 24-hour website and hotline to receive and record information pertaining to violations of any laws or regulations by any non-US citizen.
-creates implementation phases depending on number of employees and whether or not the employer has government contracts. Verification will be required of all employers by July 1, 2010.
-creates a welfare verification process. E-verify cannot be used for any other purpose except for employment verification, so we have to use a different verification for benefits.
-creates a felony for harboring or transporting illegal aliens
-creates a need for registration of immigration assistance services. Don’t understand why businesses assisting employers need to register with LLR, but maybe helps enforcement.
-Makes it a felony to knowingly and willfully make, aid and abet in making, or solicit to make a false, fictitious, or fraudulent statement or representation in any document in an immigration related matter while providing immigration assistance services.  A person convicted of a violation could receive a sentence of confinement of up to five years and a fine. 
-Expands jurisdiction of State Grand Jury to include immigration fraud
-Prohibits illegals from buying, selling, possessing, or transporting firearms. Sorry, but the Constitutional right to bear arms doesn’t apply to foreigners.
-Prohibits sanctuary and state preemption (sanctuary cities) 
                     
Penalties:
1st offense – suspend all business licenses INCLUDING the employer’s SC employment license, prohibiting it from doing business or hiring new employees for 10-30 days, terminate all illegal alien employees, and pay reinstatement fee up to $1000 (to cover costs of investigation and enforcement); 
2nd offense – suspend all business licenses INCLUDING the employer’s SC employment license, prohibiting him from doing business or hiring new employees for 30-60 days, terminate all illegal alien employees, and pay reinstatement fee up to $1000 (to cover costs of investigation and enforcement); 
3rd and subsequent offenses – revocation of business and employment license (5 year minimum), can only be reinstated after 5 years if employer terminates all illegal alien employees, goes on probation for 3 years and submits compliance reports, and pays reinstatement fee of up to $1000 (to cover costs of investigation and enforcement);

stormwater run off fee exemptions

In the Senate Agriculture Committee Wednesday morning (05.21.08) we amended H. 4337 to call for exemptions of stormwater, sediment, or erosion control program for agricultural lands, forest lands, undeveloped lands, and any place, structure, or building or worship.

A few months back, I paid the water bill for our church. The new storm water run-off fee of $65.33 is more than 1/2 the total water bill.

You  may be unaware, but I’m the treasurer for Concord Community Church, a non-denonminational Bible Fellowshop.  I know what you’re thinking, what kind of Church allows a politician to steward over the checkbook, but I’m the guy for now.

spending caps: don’t be fooled by the name

 Spending may be capped in the spending caps constitutional amendment. I offered two amendments to the spending caps bill today.

1-This amendment was a simple automatic tax refund to the overcharged taxpayer if the following criteria are met: “When the balance in the Budget Stabilization Fund is greater than 15% of the prior year’s actual general fund revenue collection and when the big spenders have grown government to match the 10 year projections (roughly 4.5%), then the taxpayer will get an automatic refund. I’m sure you guessed it, my amendment was tabled.

2- When the balance in the Budget Stabilization Fund is greater than 15% of the prior year’s actual general fund revenue collection and when the big spenders have grown government to match the 10 year projections (roughly 4.5%), then the overage may be used in the following ways: 1-rax refund (don’t hold your breath 2-debt retirement (blue face yet?) or 3-capital improvements or a combination of 2 or 3 of these options. Unless the SC Legislature has a Goldwater moment, you and I know the money will be spent in a slush orgy with the capital projects. But, we’ll have one more item to hold up as a justification for tax cuts. This amendment passed, and the bill got 2nd reading, but fell short of the necessary 2/3 vote to amendment the constitution.

The Budget Stabilization Fund may be OK. It keeps us from the current roller coaster ride of up and down years. One piece of the puzzle does give me pause. The big revenue years are the only time we can ever get any form of tax relief passed. If we get into this steady growth, we may have an even harder time to persuade the Legislature to cut taxes. Of course ya’ll know, selling tax cuts in Columbia is like selling Antabuse on skid row. No one’s interested.

Keep in mind that the cap is a ceiling, not a floor. Even with this amendment the Legislature could have a Goldwater moment and cut taxes and cut government down to essential constitutional functions.

Are these workers here legally?

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Interestingly, this week the Senate has made efforts to pass meaningful immigration reform for the 4th time and what-do-you-know, we have foreign workers on the back steps of the Statehouse. Unable to speak English, we don’t know if these workers are legal. If they are, I’m all for their privilege to live here, work here, and participate in our wonderful quality of life. But at this time, we don’t know. Palmetto Scoop and Fits News have posed this  question so I’ve asked the Clerk’s office to research this matter. This contract is the obligation of the Budget & Control Board (you know the one we’re trying to abolish). The contractor has confirmed that all of his employees confirm to the law. I’d like to know what documents are being used to verify the legality. Are these workers United States Citizens, verified with e-verify, or verified with  an i9. Ya’ll remember an i9 is a worthless document full of loopholes.
                  
I don’t know if we can force the contractor to tell us, but we’ll continue to pursue and get you some answers. I’ve put in a request to find out the documentation of these workers. I’ll let ya’ll know our findings.

gay marriage won’t happen in South Carolina

The California Supreme Court ruled to recognize gay marriage. Unfortunately, the California Court acted to preempt the wishes of the citizens of California. California will have a similar decision to amend their constitution in the future.
                 
This will not occur in South Carolina because in 2006 SC voted to add an amendment to our constitution defining marriage as one man and one woman. Many argued that this amendment was not important, yet had we not amended our constitution, any liberal activist court could have done the same in our state.
                     
A flaming liberal will whine, why can’t we allow those that love each other to be married? One man & one woman, man & man, woman & woman, 2 men & 4 women, a house cat & a woman & her sister, 3 men and a cow…I don’t have the room on this site to give all of their perverted examples.
                    
Out of respect for the Creator’s most sacred institution, the Palmetto State’s Constitution strengthens marriage, society’s foundational establishment. God even uses marriage to define the relationship with Jesus Christ and His church. Government must honor marriage as the union between one man and one woman.
                  
‘EQUAL’ | Ruling could be reversed by amendment
May 16, 2008 BY ASSOCIATED PRESS
                  
SAN FRANCISCO—- Even as same-sex couples across California begin making plans to tie the knot, opponents are redoubling their efforts to make sure wedding bells never ring for gay couples in the nation’s most populous state.
               
A conservative group said it would ask California’s Supreme Court to postpone putting its decision legalizing gay marriage into effect until after the fall election. That’s when voters will likely have a chance to weigh in on a proposed amendment to California’s constitution that would bar same-sex couples from getting married.
                    
If the court does not grant the request, gay marriages could begin in California in as little as 30 days, the time it typically takes for the justices’ opinions to become final.
                  
”We’re obviously very disappointed in the decision,” said Glen Lavy, senior counsel for the Alliance Defense Fund, which is pushing for the stay. ”The remedy is a constitutional amendment.”
                       
With a stroke of a pen Thursday, the Republican-dominated court swept away decades of tradition and said there was no legally justifiable reason why the state should withhold the institution of marriage because of a couple’s sexual orientation.

PACT & its horrible replacement test killed

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Columbia SC – Palmetto Achievement Challenge Test was pronounced dead today in the chamber of the South Carolina Senate. PACT was 10 years old and resided at 1429 Senate Street in Columbia. PACT’s life was in jeopardy since 2006 as Superintendent of Education Jim Rex issued a death threat upon election. Dr. Rex backed down from this threat, yet several members of the Legislature took up the assassination task. Sen. Greg Ryberg, an avid enemy of PACT wasn’t willing to cooperate until he was convinced that PACT would never be replaced with an even greater bully of our teachers and kids. Sen. Ryberg chose to kill EMSAP, another proposed test, at the same time. With a double barrel shotgun over his shoulder, Sen. Ryberg said “…Replacing PACT with EMSAP is like swapping Capone for Dillinger…I chose to kill them both”. The body will be prepared at Conference Committee Mortuary and then buried in the Sanford Cemetery in the Lower Level of the Statehouse. Details of the funeral will be published as they develop.

ultrasound bill signed by Gov. Sanford

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STATE OF SOUTH CAROLINA
THE SENATE

For Immediate Release
May 15, 2008

Bryant Comments on Signing of Ultrasound Bill

Columbia, SC – Senator Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson) offered the following comments today concerning the Governor’s recent signing of the “Ultrasound Bill” (H.3355).

“By the Governor signing this bill the state has taken a giant step in the right direction in recognizing the sanctity of human life. This bill will allow women to make a more informed choice about decisions related to their pregnancy.”

Senator Bryant was the first to introduce legislation similar to the bill Governor Sanford signed, which establishes a sixty-minute waiting period after an ultrasound is performed before an abortion can take place. The bill also requires that patients be informed of their right to view the ultrasound. Under the Informed Consent Law a woman has the right to view the ultrasound while it is being performed as well as any time during the newly established sixty-minute waiting period.  

The bill took effect upon the Governor’s signature. ###

                        

350 jobs to come to Anderson!

For Immediate Release Contact: Kara Borie, SCDOC, 803-737-1998 Cross Country Home Services to Locate Customer Care Facility in Anderson$3 Million Investment to Bring 350 Jobs to Anderson County COLUMBIA, S.C. – May 13, 2008 – The South Carolina Department of Commerce and the Anderson County Office of Economic Development announced today that Cross Country Home Services (CCHS) will locate a new customer care facility in Anderson, South Carolina.  CCHS will invest approximately $3 million and expects to create 350 new jobs.   “After an extensive national search, CCHS is pleased to have found a community such as Anderson that provides access to a pool of high-quality prospective employees, an existing facility that meets our needs and a supportive state and local government,” said Sandra Finn, President, CCHS.  “At CCHS, we realize that our most important asset is our people. We believe that our friendly, family-oriented culture that develops the skills of its employees will attract the best and the brightest from the community.  Our goal is to become an employer of choice for the residents of Anderson and its surrounding communities.” “As we work to compete in the global marketplace, our state’s ability to attract new investment and jobs is increasingly important.  Today’s announcement of Cross Country Home Services’ decision to create 350 jobs here certainly speaks to our success in that regard, as well as to our efforts to enhance the economic soil conditions to encourage business growth.  We remain committed to continuing these efforts to keep growing the state’s economy and creating opportunity throughout South Carolina,” said Gov. Mark Sanford. “Cross Country Home Services is a leading provider of home warranties, service plans, and assistance programs with nearly 30 years of experience and major national and regional clients.  Their decision to locate in Anderson County is another sign that our state’s business-friendly climate is working to attract investment that will positively impact the state and local economy with new jobs.  Thanks to the team efforts of state and local officials, Anderson County will benefit from this investment,” said Joe Taylor, Secretary of Commerce.  Heather Jones, Anderson County Director of Economic Development, remarked, “I want to congratulate Cross Country Home Services on the decision to locate its customer care center in Anderson County at the Windsor Place Shopping Center.  I’m delighted at the addition of such a highly successful company and its ability to provide quality new jobs to residents of our county.”  Dallas based consulting firm, Site Selection Group, Inc. was hired by CCHS to conduct a national site selection search to identify the community most compatible with the company’s operating requirements in the areas of labor availability, real estate and economic incentives.  “This announcement ends a two year national site selection search for our client.  Our search results and analysis identified Anderson, S.C. as offering our client the best strategic location, favorable business climate, ample skilled workforce with low competitive saturation and an equitable incentive package.  Placing this $3 million investment and these 350 jobs in Anderson, South Carolina is a win-win for all parties,” said Christine Sullivan, V.P. Site Selection Group, Inc. Cross Country Home Services Inc. is the leader in helping companies drive revenue and customer loyalty through a comprehensive set of home warranties, home service plans, and homeowner emergency assistance programs.  For nearly 30 years, CCHS has provided highly flexible, co-branded and private label service programs for major national and regional clients in the financial services, insurance, real estate and utility industries, as well as affinity groups.  The company is focused on operational excellence — from client support, service network management and marketing, to customer service operations and brand stewardship – to ensure that its clients’ programs run smoothly and deliver results.  Headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, CCHS is a member of the Cross Country Group, one of the largest privately-held providers of customer service programs in the United States.  For more information, visit www.crosscountry-home.com.   -###-

vote to “concur” fails 20-26

For the fourth time, the Senate has debated illegal immigration reform. Recently, we acted on H. 3032, an amended bill with a requirement for e-verify for all employers in South Carolina. The Senate could not amend H. 3032, since it was back from the House a second time. Our only option was to “concur” (agree with the House) or “non-concur” (not accept the House’s version). I voted to concur, simply because the last immigration bill sent to conference never survived. If the bill was concurred to, it would have gone to the Governor immediately. The roll call vote to concur lost 20-26. The bill now goes to a conference committee. A conference committee is made up of 3 Senate members and 3 House members.

We now have the possibility of the conference committee passing H. 3032. There is another vehicle on the calendar, H. 4400 that has the chances of passing, yet it would go back to the House, then back to the Senate.

I will continue to fight for any available avenue for true immigration reform.