update: water rate protest: finally a victory for the little guy

I’m excited to know that the Public Service Commission unanimously denied the rate increase application by the Utilities Soviets of South Carolina. So if you live on these streets, at least your escalated rates won’t go up for now: Acorn Drive, Altamont Court, Arcadia Drive, Bamboo Drive, Bayshore Lane, Brown Road, Bryson Road, Clearview Drive, Club Drive Drive, Crestwood Drive, Cretewood, Driftwood Drive, Edgewater Drive, June Way, Kings Court, Lakewood Drive, Marty Court, Meeting Street, Mountain View Place, Oakwood Estates, Old Shoals Drive, Olivarri Drive, Penniger Drive, Penniger Drive, Pine Top Circle, Red Oak Drive, Shannon Drive, Town Creek Trail, Twin Lakes Circle, Twin lakes Court, Twin Lakes Drive, Twin Lakes Drive, Wallwood Drive, Walnut Way, Wellwood Drive, Whisper Lane, Wilderness Lane, Wilson Road, Windwood Drive, Woodlake Road, Woodoak Drive, Yates Circle

read the full report here

Below is the original post on the issue:

On Wednesday night, we had a public hearing for a water rate increase for a few hundred of my constituents. My remarks obviously irritated one of the high dollar attorneys for the utilities company. She insisted my statement contained unsubstantiated claims. I guess that’s what they pay these high-class lawyers to do. Here’s the letter I read to the PSC:
November 7, 2007

G. O’Neal Hamilton, Chairman
South Carolina of Public Service Commission
101 Executive Center Dr., Suite 100
Columbia, SC 29210

Re: Docket 2007-286-WS

Dear Public Service Commissioners:

Thank you very much for having a public hearing in Anderson concerning the rate increase proposal by the Utilities Services of South Carolina. I have a number of constituents with documents verifying less than average water pressure, low quality customer service and water quality issues.

There is also a comparison of neighboring water companies charging rates already less than those of the USSC. I am sure the USSC will give you several reasons to justify these rate increases. For whatever these reasons may be, I would think the neighboring water companies have similar circumstances yet the neighboring customers seem to get fairer treatment. Simply put, these customers should not be subject to funding the mismanagement practices of USSC. It is not their problem. I would like to encourage the members of the Public Services Commission to take great efforts to examine the issues raised by my constituents.

I am a retail pharmacist. In my profession, an unsatisfied customer can simply choose to shop at a different drug store in town. Utilities customers do not have an option, therefore we ask you, the Public Service Commission, to intervene and protect these working families. They simply cannot afford an unfair price increase for an essential need such as water.

With warmest personal regards, I remain

Respectfully,

Kevin L. Bryant
South Carolina Senate District 3

s. 714 sent back to committee

My hyperventilation over S. 714 is getting better as the bill was sent back to Judiciary Committee to be revisited. Normally, when bills pass 2nd reading, they breeze through 3rd as a simple procedure. I was prepared to make a last plea to the Senate to at least pause to consider the slippery slope we are heading down. Judiciary Committee Chairman Sen. McConnell found it necessary to make the motion to recommit. The role call vote won 41-0!This fight may not be over, but we will have some time to educate the public of this possible Constitutional Crisis.

S. 714 so unconstitutional even a caveman recognizes it

 Unfortunately, S. 714 was amended today to revert back to the bill as drafted. I was compelled to take the floor and argue the demerits of the bill and further more the unconstitutionality of this awful piece of legislation. “This bill is so unconstitutional, even a caveman can recognize it” was my point. Ya’ll need to remember that my mother is of the Hectorgundersoug family (Norwegian immigrants). Norwegians are know for their sarcasm. Back to the issue.

Points to ponder as we delve into this hysteria:
-The definition of political awareness organization is so broad it could essentially prohibit a group of concerned citizens from attending the local fair to distribute literature promoting animal rights unless they register with the government and disclose their donor base.
-NAACP v. Alabama 1958 was a case in the heated battle of the civil rights movement. Alabama passed a similar law that many believe was an effort to persecute those giving money to the NAACP. The Supreme Court ruled this unconstitutional on grounds of violation of our first amendment right of free speech.
-This bill could be interpreted as a jailable offence when organizations are noncompliant. Are we going to arrest every South Carolinian that is a member of the AARP if the AARP continues to promote their agenda for seniors?
-The Ron Paul revolution has impressed me. Ron Paul’s support is an inch wide and a mile deep. I’ve seen bed sheets spray painted hanging off bridges supporting his candidacy. This kind of political activism is impressive; I can’t in good conscience try to squelch this enormous effort. Could S. 714 define these freedom fighting citizens as “political awareness organizations”? Maybe so.
-The bill applies mainly to 501(c) 4s and 527s but we need to remember that the IRS is constantly questioning the qualifications of 501(c)3s. Recently, the NAACP was under investigation and the IRS almost changed their status from a c3 to a c4.
Remember I count pills for a living as I’m not the expert to argue constitutionality of an issue. However, we held our own yet my motion to table lost 18-22; closer than I ever imagined. We fought the good fight, and hopefully the House of Representatives can correct our errors or S. 714 get the Governor’s veto. I am very grateful for the unyielding members of the SC Senate that stood for freedom: Alexander, Bryant, Campsen, Ceips, Cleary, Courson, Cromer, Fair, Gregory, Grooms, Martin, Massey, McConnell, Ritchie, Ryberg, Setzler, Thomas, Vaughn*, Verdin

s. 909 Bronze Star Medal scholarships in sub committee

A bill I sponsored, S. 909 gets a hearing in the Senate Education Committee on Wednesday morning.  The legislation grants members of the South Carolina National Guard or Reserve Components that are awarded a Bronze Star Medal or higher military award for combat operations free tuition to any state supported college, university or technical education institution.

General George C. Marshall, in a memorandum to President Roosevelt dated February 3, 1944, wrote: “The fact that the ground, troops, Infantry in particular, lead miserable lives of extreme discomfort and are the ones who must close in personal combat with the enemy, makes the maintenance of their morale of great importance. The award of the Air Medal has had an adverse reaction on the ground troops, particularly the Infantry Riflemen who are now suffering the heaviest loses, air or ground, in the Army, and enduring the greatest hardships.”

The Executive Order of President Roosevelt established the Bronze Star Medal in February of 1944 for exemplary conduct in ground combat against an armed enemy. Its given to one who distinguished himself or herself by heroic or meritorious achievement or service, not involving participation in aerial flight, while engaged in military operations involving conflict with an opposing foreign force; or while serving with friendly foreign forces engaged in an armed conflict against an opposing armed force in which the United States is not a belligerent party. South Carolina’s National Guard estimates that of the 8,000 members deployed since September 11 2001, 25 have received the Bronze Star Medal to date.  This equates to an award rate of .3%.

north american union & v chip

This is a scary video if it is true. If it is, what can we do about it?

mistaken of age defence removed!

S.C. House approves revisions to sex offender law
By Robert W. Dalton, Spartanburg Herald
Published: Thursday, January 31, 2008 | Updated: 9:48 am ARTICLE OPTIONS

The state House, in a surprise move Wednesday morning, struck down one controversial provision of Jessica’s Law and altered another. Gone is the “mistake-of-age” defense, which prosecutors said could allow adult offenders to have sex with preteens and escape punishment if they could convince a jury they believed the child was older. smith.jpgsmith.jpg
The House also changed the “Romeo clause,” the provision that made it legal for people age 18 and younger to have sex with children as young as 14. It is now a misdemeanor punishable by up to three years in prison, but it does not require inclusion on the state’s sex offender registry.

Rep. Murrell Smith Jr., R-Sumter offered the amendment

S. 714 gets gutted

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To my great surprise, the Senate adopted a strike and insert amendment today to practically gut the S. 714 I blogged about a few days ago.  Below is the amendment:
PERFECTING AMENDMENT by Sen. Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw)
Senator SHEHEEN proposed the following amendment (714R003.VAS):
Amend the committee amendment, as and if amended, on page [714-1] by striking lines -40 and inserting:
/ “Section 2-17-16. A political action committee organized by or on behalf of the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, any other statewide constitutional officer, a member of the General Assembly, a director or deputy director of a state department appointed by the Governor is prohibited. Any political action committee prohibited by this section in existence on the effective date of this act must distribute all unexpended contributions in the manner provided for in Section 8-13-1370(C).” /
Renumber sections to conform.
Amend title to conform.

I’m uncertain if I want to outlaw elected officials from forming PACs, but this isn’t nearly as dangerous as the original bill as drafted.

Sen. Jim DeMint on recent pork barrell spending

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For Immediate Release
January 28th, 2008
Contact: Wesley Denton (202) 224-6121

PRESIDENT, CONGRESS ALLOW EARMARKS TO CONTINUE AS USUAL
Says Tough Choices Are Needed to Cut Wasteful Spending

Washington, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Jim DeMint (R-South Carolina) responded to reports that President Bush has decided to accept over 10,000 wasteful pork barrel earmarks for Fiscal Year 2008 when he had the authority to stop them. Senator DeMint made the following statement:”I’m disappointed the President missed this historic opportunity to stop thousands of wasteful earmarks under pressure from big spenders in Congress.”

“The President was right last year to call on Congress to stop putting earmarks in secret reports, but the Democrat Congress ignored him and now the President is going to let them get away with it. The proposed executive order will only stop secret earmarks in future bills, but it protects over 10,000 non-binding earmarks requested for this year.

“Earmarks exploded under Republican watch but Democrats proved last year they like the earmark favor factory just as much. In fact, they broke their own promise to cut earmarks in half. This is a bipartisan earmark addiction and the President should have taken the bottle away. Instead, he chose to accept another round of earmarks and give lawmakers another round of drinks.

“Americans are fed up with the corruption and waste in Washington and no issue better symbolizes the decay than earmarks. Congressmen are in jail today for taking bribes for earmarks yet Congress and this President are allowing thousands of special interest projects this year for bike paths, museums, baseball parks, and golf charities while our economic growth is slowing.

“Congress continues to fail to make the tough choices our country needs. It keeps adding new spending but never cut the waste.

“I am glad the President is pledging once again to veto spending bills that don’t cut earmarks in half, but it may be too late since Congress may not send him many spending bills this year. I am also glad the President is going to stop future earmarks that are not written in our bills, but delaying action could give big spenders time to find ways to get around his rule.

“Washington is broken and the Democratic Congress has broken its promise to fix it. President Bush has taken some modest steps toward reform, but it will take bold action by Republicans to end the congressional favor factory and restore trust with the American people.”

real id: Sen. Larry Martin

larry.jpglarry.jpglarry.jpgSC chose not to partisipate in the Federal Real ID.  This resolution was sponsord by Sen. Larry Martin (R-Pickens). larry.jpglarry.jpgREAL ID is a nationwide effort to improve the integrity and security of State-issued drivers licenses and identification cards, which in turn will help fight terrorism and reduce fraud. REAL ID refers to minimum standards for state-issued driver’s licenses or personal identification cards that will allow you to board a federally regulated airplane, access a federal facility or nuclear power plant. These standards are part of the requirements of the REAL ID Act of 2005, which Congress passed to make it more difficult to fraudulently acquire a drivers license or ID card, as part of the effort to fight terrorism and reduce fraud. The 9/11 Commission endorsed the REAL ID requirements, noting that for terrorists, travel documents are as important as weapons … All but one of the 9/11 hijackers acquired some form of identification document, some by fraud. Acquisition of these forms of identification would have assisted them in boarding commercial flights, renting cars, and other necessary activities.
REAL ID is not a national identification card yet standards that must be in place if state issued identification will be an accepted by entities of federal jurisdictions. South Carolina chose to not participate in the REAL ID standards for several reasons. One of those reasons is that REAL ID provided no funding, so the state would have to decide whether to fund the extra expenses from the taxpayer or increase the costs of the application for a drivers license.
Since a regular SC drivers license is not an acceptable form of identification we may suffer delays due to the requirement for enhanced security screening. The time table has been extended by the Federal Government, but those of us that desire to fly commercially, we may be required to keep an updated passport. Although this may be an inconvenience, this required is better than forcing the same inconvenience on all South Carolinians that wish a drivers license.

Why We Whisper, a book on free speech by Sen. Jim DeMint

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“As one whose career is rooted in the First Amendment, I know how government imposition can strip Americans of our precious freedom of speech. Big government liberalism and a decline in our culture must be stopped. For ammunition in the fight ahead, read Why We Whisper.” Rush Limbaugh

     “I hope you have had the opportunity to read our book because it will give you the information you need to join the battle for our culture in America. Why We Whisper gives many examples of how our own government is promoting costly and destructive behavior. By encouraging and protecting destructive behavior by our citizens, our government has made it “right” to act in ways that hurt our culture and our country. Effectively, our government has taken away our right to say that some things are “wrong.” This is a clear violation of the freedom of speech for Americans who hold traditional views. And this is why we whisper when we say that some things are just plain wrong.
     Our book suggests a number of solutions, including encouraging Americans to speak out when government or their surrogates try to muzzle our freedoms. One recent example of an American standing up and speaking out was Andrew Larochelle, a 17-year-old Eagle Scout from Ohio. Andrew asked that a flag be flown over the U.S. Capitol in honor of his grandfather. He also requested that the accompanying certificate read, “This flag was flown in honor of Marcel Larochell, my grandfather, for his dedication and love of God, Country, and family.”
     When Andrew received his flag, he was alarmed that “God” had been omitted from the certificate. Instead of whispering, Andrew and his Congressman, Michael Turner, took on the government. When the dust settled, Andrew was in Washington presenting the flag and the corrected certificate to his grandfather in front of a national media audience. And the government changed their policy about censoring “God” and religion from flag certificates.
     That’s just one of thousands of stories of the government, the ACLU or other para-government groups trying to intimidate Americans with traditional values. WE WANT YOUR STORY. Please use the website to log your story of intimidation or of Americans fighting back against intimidation. We will share many of these stories regularly on this website.” Sen. Jim DeMint