S. 714 requires permission before speaking

             I believe the words of Winston Churchill that, “democracy is the worst form of government except all the others that have been tried.” The most fundamental tenet of democracy is that anyone and everyone enjoy the right to speak their mind at any time, in any place and on any subject. The important part of free speech, moreover, is not the “speech” part but the “free” part. Americans must never be subjected to government restrictions on their speech, particularly their political speech.
     The South Carolina Senate, to my great chagrin and disappointment, will soon consider a piece of legislation that will require individuals that band together in order to engage in political speech to register with the government. Senate bill 714, if enacted, would require anyone supporting an advocacy group by donating $100 or more to that group to give the government their name and address.
      The idea that a non-profit organization that gathers the collective voice of concerned citizens on a particular subject should be forced to give over the names and addresses of their supporters smacks of the sort of oppressive government that Americans have spent the better part of two centuries fighting against, both at home and abroad.
     The bill would require a businessman in Anderson who donates to a non-profit organization that supports lower taxes and spending limits to give his name and address to the government. It would require a mother in Lexington who donates to a non-profit organization that advocates school choice to tell the government who she is and where she lives. It would require a pastor in Beaufort who supports with his own resources an organization that advocates traditional marriage to register with the government, like a felon has too (and if he does not he could go to jail, just like a felon).
     This bill eviscerates advocacy efforts on both ends of the political spectrum. A doctor who donates to a group that lobbies for universal health care must inform the government that he did so. People who give money to a group that seeks a ban on public prayer or greater gun control must put their personal information on a list to be held by the government. I disagree with these particular initiatives, but I repel at the suggestion that people should have to fill out forms and have a file with the government before they can express themselves.
     The only explanation for gagging speech is fear of the message. I do not know what message the proponents of this legislation fear, but I do know that once we thwart the constitution by limiting speech, the rest of our rights will fall like dominoes.
The pity of this attempt is that it reveals the desire of too many elected officials to avoid open debate and hard decision-making. It mirrors the so-called “campaign finance reform” at the federal level which many observers correctly labeled the “incumbent protection act.” The McCain-Feingold Act prevents political speech critical of someone running for office within 30 days of the election. The passage of S. 714 foretells such preventions here in South Carolina. If the government succeeds in forcing you to sign up before allowing you to speak, they can just as easily stop you from speaking altogether because once a right is removed from the status of “inalienable” there are no limits to its abrogation. As Thomas Jefferson noted, “law is often but the tyrant’s will, and always so when it violates the rights of the individual.”
     We, as free citizens, should demand that government listen to the people instead of requiring us to register before we speak. We, as free citizens, should expect our public officials to endorse or reject our hopes and expectations, not use our desire to speak as a weapon against us. We, as free citizens, must preserve our freedom to speak to our government and not allow our government to become the arbiters of when and where and how we can speak. Once we allow government to suspend one of our rights, the next ones will go more quickly.
     Thomas Jefferson further proclaimed that, “The force of public opinion cannot be resisted when permitted freely to be expressed. The agitation it produces must be submitted to. It is necessary, to keep the waters pure.” Senate bill 714 highjacks our most basic freedom, that of free speech. I will fight the contamination of our politics by the usurpation of our right to speak. I hope you will join me.

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Ben Stein movie takes on free speech suppression in academia


Ben Stein, in the new film EXPELLED: No Intelligence Allowed

His heroic and, at times, shocking journey confronting the world’s top scientists, educators and philosophers, regarding the persecution of the many by an elite few. Question Darwinism and your freedom of speech is squelched!

Coming to a theater near you Spring 2008

Ben travels the world on his quest, and learns an awe-inspiring truth…that bewilders him, then angers him…and then spurs him to action!

Ben realizes that he has been “Expelled,” and that educators and scientists are being ridiculed, denied tenure and even fired – for the “crime” of merely believing that there might be evidence of “design” in nature, and that perhaps life is not just the result of accidental, random chance.
To which Ben Says: “Enough!” And then gets busy.

special order: call for constitution convention

Immigration law is primarily governed by federal statutes and regulations. Congress has tried to pass immigration reform measures, however, neither the House nor the Senate has been able to get anything passed. No state has the authority to enforce the borders, deny access to immigrants, or make rules about who may or may not remain in this country or in any state therein. Federal statutes governing illegal immigration cannot be enforced by states, either. State law enforcement authorities can arrest suspected illegal immigrants, however, they must immediately turn them over to federal authorities unless the suspected illegal alien has committed a violation of state law that the law enforcement personnel have the authority to enforce. Finally, federal statutes and regulations prohibit states from passing laws to control and/or limit access to certain benefits (public education, medical care, law enforcement protection, food stamps, WIC benefits, etc.).

Therefore, the illegal immigration problem in SC and across the nation continues to get more serious as more illegal aliens enter our states, and the federal government is not adequately addressing the problem.

S. 856 calls for a constitutional convention, but it limits the issues to those relating to illegal immigration and grants the convention the authority to amend the Constitution to give states more power to regulate illegal immigration within their borders, to regulate benefits as they see fit, and to arrest and deport suspected illegal immigrants out of the state.

The fear of some constitutional scholars is that once a constitutional convention is convened, it is unlimited in its scope and it could take up any issue and amend the Constitution. There are two protections in place in this situation that further ensure that the convention would not stray from immigration reform and take up other constitutional provisions that we would not want it to discuss.

First, the concurrent resolution (S. 856) states that the convention called must be limited to illegal immigration reform issues explicitly stated in the resolution. If the convention takes up other matters, then our vote for the convention – through language in the resolution itself – makes our original request for the convention void from the beginning.  This void ab initio would theoretically remove SC as one of 2/3 of the states who called for the convention as if we never supported the call to convention in the first place. Second, even if the convention is held and it proposes amendments to the Constitution other than those specifically enumerated in our resolution, no amendment proposed by the convention can become law unless 3/4 of the states approve it. Approving substantial changes to the Constitution in areas other than illegal immigration reform is unlikely to pass 3/4 of all the states in the country.

Cindy Wilson and Company come to Columbia

24942.jpg24942.jpgCouncil-lady Cindy Wilson, local talk show host Rick Driver and numerous members of the Real Anderson County Taxpayers’ Association came to Columbia on Wednesday 01/23.
The visit was primarily for a Supreme Court hearing. The case between Ms. Wilson and our administration is over what financial information falls under the Freedom of Information Act and what is exempt. There as been an ongoing battle over this issue for quite some time. We can expect a decision in a few weeks.
Summary: This case involves a county council member’s attempts to access certain information from the county administrator. The trial court granted the administrator’s motion for summary judgment on the council member’s action for a writ of mandamus that sought to require the administrator to disclose the information.
After the hearing, they toured the Statehouse and observed the Senate debate from the balcony. It was great to see so many of my constituents as I (along with Sen. O’Dell and Rep. Bowen) was privileged to take the floor and a introduce them. Anderson Independant Greenville News

s.857 english only set to special order

S. 857 requires all state agencies to provides services in English. S 857 was put on “special order” in the Senate on Tuesday. Though English became the official language of South Carolina in 1987, decisions about whether state taxpayers will pay for multilingual services like welfare and driver’s license applications are currently made by state agencies, defying the actions intended by the legislature. Numerous studies have shown that excessive language assistance makes it less likely that immigrants will learn English. S. 857 will fulfill the intent of the earlier law, requiring government agencies to conduct official business in English and to promote English learning among immigrants. The legislation is carefully drawn to comply with federal law and legal precedent, and leaves agencies the flexibility to address emergencies and the needs of the justice system. I’m a cosponsor of this legislation for 2 reasons: 1-This policy will encourage immigrants to learn English as they transition into our society. 2-Offering other languages creates a big problem as to deciding which ones to include in the services.

professional enrichment tour

I learned a new term at one of our subcommittee hearings on spending caps – professional enrichment. As you know, the spending caps may apply to local government as well as state government. This possibility has brought municipality representatives ( or munis pronounced m-yew-nees) out of the woodwork. We hear the usual whining how this cap would jeopardize public safety, law enforcement, blah blah blah. I just had to ask a muni this question: “we hear a lot about exorbitant traveling by government officials, doesn’t spending caps put these trips in jeopardy?”

I was informed that “professional enrichment” is an important part of public service and these expenses account for only a fraction of government spending.

Spin it how you may, but I don’t understand why the taxpayer should fork out their hard earned money for digs the average constituent could never afford.

the need for $eed

Here’s a note from a friend John Warner of Swamp Fox advocating S. 897

Kevin, I am writing to ask your support for S 0897, the South Carolina Entrepreneurial Success Fund Act, filed by Sen. Jim Ritchie and referred to the Committee on Labor, Commerce and Industry.

An important element of the state’s economic development strategy should be fostering homegrown companies that can grow rapidly, create high wage jobs, and build considerable wealth which can be reinvested back into the state. Examples of these companies include Mt. Pleasant’s Automated Trading Desk, started in the late 1980s and recently sold for $800 million, and Greenville’s ScanSource, founded fifteen years ago and worth $700 million today.

I serve on the SC Venture Capital Authority, which invested $50 million in four venture capital funds to be reinvested in SC companies. We set a specific objective of investing in a seed capital fund, because that is the greatest need of emerging companies in the state. We had a great staff person from SC Commerce, Ian Forbes Jones. He and I looked hard but could not find a seed fund with a profitable track record to invest in. All of the venture funds the Authority invested in are later stage funds which will make investments of $5 million up. That’s an important level of capital that was missing from the state, but it won’t help entrepreneurs start high growth companies to begin with.

I am also knowledgeable of SC Launch!, which is a sponsor of InnoVenture, an annual SC venture capital conference I produce. SC Launch! can invest up to $200,000 in a given company. That’s important too, but usually it’s not sufficient alone to launch a high growth company.

We need a professionally managed seed capital fund in SC, which can invest the initial $1 or $2 million to help start more high growth companies like ATD or ScanSource. Beyond merely investing, this seed fund’s experienced venture professional will also help entrepreneurs develop their strategies, recruit the initial management teams, and pull in other critical relationships. This seed capital fund will often be a partner with SC Launch!, and ultimately with the SC Venture Capital Authority venture funds as companies raise later rounds of capital.

A SC-based seed capital fund will leverage hundreds of millions of dollars the legislature has already invested in programs including the endowed research chairs and the Life Sciences Act. The fund can also leverage the successful industrial recruiting done over decades by the SC Department of Commerce, to grow new companies around facilities of global corporations in the state. Having a SC-based seed capital fund is important to creating companies in cities like Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, and Spartanburg, but it is even more critical to creating high growth companies around anchors like Roche Carolina in Florence, the Savannah River National Lab in Aiken, Robert Bosch in Anderson, or Fuji Photo in Greenwood, where out-of-state venture funds rarely visit.

If a SC-based seed capital fund could have formed without incentives, it already would have. The SC Entrepreneurial Success Fund Act provides a 30% tax credit for investment in a SC-based seed fund that raises a minimum of $10 million, which is a high hurdle. Private investors will be at risk for 70% of the fund’s capital, so they will ensure that a strong fund manager is in place before committing their funds to be at risk.

The SC Entrepreneurial Success Fund Act is included in the legislative agenda of the SC and the Greenville Chambers of Commerce. The Greenville News also recently endorsed the Act.

Thank you for your support. Please let me know if you have other questions, or if there is anything I can do to support the committee’s consideration of this legislation.

Federal Government Voucher Program

Now before you hyperventilate thinking this is a school voucher, it’s not. It’s a tv voucher. That’s right, the Federal Government is providing vouchers for a HDTV receiver, since this new format will be the only format transmitted starting February 2009.  Is it just me or does it seem awfully strange that the Federal Government is offering vouchers for HD receivers?  This may sound Ron Paulish, but does TV really meet the constitutional role of the Federal Government ranking up there with national security and interstate commerce? As a matter of fact, I would argue that the old boob tube has caused more detriment to our society than anyone would admit.  Excessive television could be linked to our nation’s obesity, laziness and demand for instant gratification. Experts agree that excessive television is contributing to ADD and ADHD.  Click here if you want to apply for up to two HDTV reciever vouchers.

commerce department: record-breaking year

The South Carolina Department of Commerce has release an impressive report announcing more than 15,600 new jobs and $4 billion in new capital investment; more than any year in the past.  This is great news for the state and neighboring counties.  Unfortunately, Anderson County is not mentioned in this report.  We’ve got to work together to continue to work those “soil conditions” in Anderson so next year, the report will include us.

COLUMBIA, S.C. – January 14, 2008 – The South Carolina Department of Commerce today announced that 2007 was another record-breaking year for the recruitment of jobs and investment to South Carolina. The numbers point to strong economic activity, large job creation levels in non-urban areas, world-class companies choosing to invest heavily in South Carolina, growth in the state’s manufacturing sector, and a diversity of industry investments. In 2007, the Department of Commerce was involved in recruiting 15,666 jobs and $4.045 billion in capital investment to the state. On average in 2007, the state saw either a new company decide to locate in South Carolina or an existing business commit to expand operations in the state more than three times each week of the year.The Department of Commerce’s recruitment of 15,666 jobs in 2007 shattered the recruitment record set in 2006 – which was also a record-breaking year – by more than 1,300 jobs. In the past two years alone, the Department of Commerce has recruited more than 30,000 new jobs to the state. Additionally, the recruitment of $4.045 billion in capital investment for 2007 surpassed the 2006 records by more than $1 billion.Commerce Secretary Joe Taylor credited Gov. Mark Sanford’s efforts to enhance the state’s business climate for much of the success in 2007. To read the full article, click here

Reagan 21 Caucus


The Reagan 21 caucus is a spin-off of the William Wallace Caucus on the National Level. Conservatives from Congress contacted members of the WWC for advice on how to carry this banner of reform to the Washington level. Rep. John Campbell, California Republican said “…we’d like to commend Sen. Bryant and fellow backbenchers for the tough stands they continue to make on principles not politics…”

Capitol Hill Republicans are invoking former President Ronald Reagan in their latest effort to strengthen their party’s conservative credentials, forming a new caucus whose members must pledge to support limited government and to restore ethics in Washington.

“We don’t want to go back to what Reagan did,” said Sen. Jim DeMint, South Carolina Republican. “We want to take those principles he stood for and go forward, applying them to the challenges of today.”

Unlike most party groups, the Reagan21 caucus was formed by lawmakers themselves during months of private meetings over dinners and breakfasts, and without the assistance of congressional staff.

to read the full article at the Washington Post

editors note: The Reagan 21 did not contact the WWC, but I’d think we have a kindred spirit.