Rick Driver Show 2015.06.01 Monday @ 8:30am 1230am

Monday morning around 8:30am I will be on the Rick Driver Show. This is certainly a no spin zone crowd, never throwing softballs, however, I’ve always enjoyed this audience.
We'll probably be talking about our efforts to fund roads with money on hand rather than raising taxes and the TLH/WHS merge. “That’s why we call it an open forum” and “All we try to do here is put forth information” I’ve heard Rick say many times.
Tune in to 1230 am or online here

s.799 on TL Hanna/Westside merge

The Senate passed s. 799 unanimously and it will be on the SC House Local Calendar for their consideration, possible amendment, and hopefully passage.

fetal pain amendments ruled out of order

ultrasoundThe Senate recently passed a bill to restrict the circumstances under which a child may be killed by an abortion doctor after nineteen weeks of its life. The majority of debate on the bill concerned the inclusion or removal of the three exceptions of rape, incest and life of the mother. The effort to remove two of them, rape and incest, as conditions for a post-nineteen-week abortion failed. I am hopeful that the House will remove them when it takes up the bill, but we’ll see.

I was equally disappointed in the outcome of two amendments that I proposed that would have, first, outlawed the dismemberment of a child during its death at the hand of an abortion doctor and, second, outlawed a lethal injection by the abortion doctor into the beating heart of a child. Neither amendment was adopted, but my disappointment arose not as much from that as from the fact that they were not even given a chance to be heard. They were ruled out-of-order by the Presiding Officer, and therefore the Senate never heard my discussion of them and never took a vote on whether these forms of infanticide should remain legal in South Carolina.

The Senate Rules require a proposed amendment to any bill to be “germane”. That is, it “must be a natural and logical change or expansion directly related to the specific subject of the Bill or Resolution, as defined in the Bill or Resolution, and must not raise any new or independent matter different from the specific subject of the Bill or Resolution.” An example would be an amendment to a bill about colleges that tried to change the law concerning water use by farmers. Those clearly are two different subjects. The question of germaneness may be made by any senator, and I have raised a few myself over the years, and the question is ruled upon by the Presiding Officer as the presiding Officer of the Senate.

The specific subject of bill in this case was a new set of prohibitions concerning the death of a child by an abortion doctor, i.e. that such a death would be prohibited after nineteen weeks of life. My first amendment likewise offered another prohibition, that the abortion doctor may not kill the child by dismemberment. My second amendment sought to prohibit the abortion doctor from injecting death-inducing drugs into the beating heart of the child. Both dealt with prohibitions against killing children, and both were ruled non-germane by the Presiding Officer. I have no idea why, and the Presiding Officer made no explanation. He is not obliged to explain his rulings, but I have seen it done plenty of times in my ten-plus years in the Senate, particularly by our most recent Presiding Officer, Glenn McConnell. This time, however, there was silence.

What was worse even than that, however, was the refusal of the Presiding Officer to let me even be heard on the dismemberment amendment. When germaneness is questioned, it is called raising a point of order, and the presiding Officer, (almost always the Lieutenant Governor Lieutenant Governor Presiding Officer) asks if anyone would like to be heard on the point. This is the opportunity for senators to discuss the merits of the point, i.e. their view on whether the amendment is germane. When the point was made on the dismemberment amendment, the Presiding Officer ruled the amendment out-of-order before I could get to my desk and seek recognition, and when I finally did, he replied that. “the point is over”. That, in my ten-plus years, I never, ever, have seen.

My next amendment also was challenged, and because I was standing at my desk with my hand raised, I was recognized, but even as my voice trailed off from arguing my side, the Presiding Officer said, “sustained” (the amendment is out-of-order).

I am, of course, most disappointed that innocent children will continue to die at the hands of abortionists by the most cruel and unusual means possible. I am only slightly less disappointed that a Republican Presiding Officer decided that amendments about killing children were not relevant to a bill about killing children. I am absolutely amazed, however, that I was denied even the chance to talk about the first one and that the second was disposed of with the kind of speed that, to some, suggested outright embarrassment.

I will, in the future, draw my amendments even more carefully, but I truly hope that this episode is not a preview of what we can expect in the South Carolina Senate when we next debate a bill to prevent the deaths of innocent children. Their odds already are long, and we already have to fight hard to secure them their right to life. I shudder to think that the fight just got harder because of one individual’s unilateral decisions.

Techtronic Industies Ground Breaking


S. 799 will prevent backroom school merge schemes

backroomS. 799 passed unanimously in the Senate today. It will be sent to the SC House of Representatives on Tuesday.
General Bill
Sponsors: Senator Bryant INTRODUCED May 20, 2015
S. 799
Be it enacted by the General Assembly of the State of South Carolina: SECTION    1.    Act 509 of 1982, as amended, is further amended by adding: “Section    (    ).    Before closing, merging, expanding, consolidating, or eliminating any school or schools in Anderson County, the Anderson County Board of Education shall be required to approve the proposed action by a two-thirds vote.”
SECTION    2.    This act takes effect upon approval by the Governor.

pick pocket roads funding

pick.pocketBeen getting a lot of phone calls and e-mails about the proposed gas tax hike before the Senate. I will oppose an increase in the gas tax today, tomorrow and forever, or at least until the SCDOT wins the national public agency of the year award for fiscal efficiency and customer service–and I expect forever to come first. You might be encouraged to know that I am co-sponsoring an amendment currently on the Senate floor to move another $47m (on top of $135m appropriated in the annual budget) of money that we gas.taxhave on hand to REPAIR AND MAINTAIN our existing roads. Senator Tom Davis will be speaking about this amendment today on the Senate floor in an effort to educate others about our ability to pay for better roads with the money that we have instead of raising taxes on you or future generations by raising the debt ceiling. I believe that we are turning the tide on this argument, and I appreciate your support.

T.L. Hanna/Westside: open your wallet shut your mouth

speechI introduced a local bill (S. 799) that calls for a 2/3 vote by the Anderson County Board of Education before any school merges or closings. After last week’s ruckus in School District 5, there must be another check and balance when Anderson County School Boards take action, especially without your input.

The Chairman of the District 5 board tried to ram his through plan to merge T.L. Hanna and Westside high schools without public input. On Thursday, May 14 over 200 parents took time out of their busy schedules to attend the School Board meeting. Most, if not all, were opposed to the plan, a plan they obviously had not heard when the same Chairman was begging for a tax increase. The Chairman opened the meeting with the condescending statement, “we are not hearing public comment.” So, he wants your money, but not your opinion.

rick.bradshawThis flies in the face of Democracy. I have chaired dozens of sub-committee hearings in the Senate. Anybody and everybody, no matter what their political viewpoint, gets a chance to be heard. As a matter of fact, I chaired a sub-committee just last week on two bills. We had folks that drove from Charleston to speak on the bills. The clock ran out, and all of them did not get a chance to speak. We carried over both bills because we didn’t have time to listen to their concerns. The District 5 Chairman obviously feels differently about the First Amendment.

He eventually pulled the offensive plan, however, it was because of the facebooks, twitters, snapchats, and other social media, seeing that you were denied your opportunity  to speak at the meeting.

Is a 2/3 vote by the County School Board the answer? Some have suggested a referendum. I’m not sure, but it has been put forth for your input. Let me know your thoughts.

Pastors support fetal pain bill filibuster

Monday, May 18, 2015
For Immediate Release

FROM: The South Carolina Pastors Alliance
TO: All Print and Social Media
RE: SC State Senator Lee Bright Filibuster over 20-week Fetal Pain Ban 

The South Carolina Pastors Alliance, a network of over 500 pastors united together to influence public policy in matters of faith, family and freedom, is supporting pro-life Senator Lee Bright’s principled stand to filibuster the 20-week Fetal Pain Ban. Senator Bright has been a consistent and stalwart advocate for the pre-born and this is a prime example of his commitment. 

“While other so-called pro-life GOP senators look for ways to accommodate exceptions to abortions, Senator Lee Bright takes the courageous position of defending life at any cost. His recent filibuster demonstrates his unwavering commitment to protecting all the unborn despite opposition even from his own party. I support Senator Bright’s inspiring determination to abolish abortion.”
– Pastor Mike Gonzalez, Midlands Director and Incoming Executive Director, SCPA

While Senator Bright has already issued a carefully articulated position on why this bill is bad for the pre-born, the SCPA also has concerns of its own.

“The 20 week Fetal Pain Bill has three very real problems that should concern every conservative Christian. In fact, it has caused some of us in the pro-life movement to wonder if this is a step forward or backward. First, it has attached to it “exception” amendments which ostensibly removes the potential lives that may be saved. Second, it is being supported by one of the most pro-abortion senators in the state which begs the question, “why?” Third, it offers a legal declaration concerning pain thresholds of a pre-born baby which might actually increase the gestation period acceptable to abortion providers. All of these reasons provide enough concern to warrant Senator Bright’s courageous stand. We at the SCPA stand with him in abolishing abortion and in opposition to his own party who claims to be pro-life.” 
– Dr. Kevin Baird, Executive Director SCPA and incoming Director of the National Association of Pastors Alliances

Tom Davis: Guiding Principles On SC Gas Tax Debate

from fitsnews.comdavis.tom

|| By TOM DAVIS || Many of you have asked why I attended the Senate GOP Caucus’ press conference last week if I did not support the roads plan it presented. I did so because the massive tax-hike bills previously passed by the House and Senate Finance Committees were moving forward very quickly, with all of the major lobbying groups and the mainstream media outlets in full support. For that reason, I believed it was critical that the public-policy conversation somehow be changed from simply “increase our taxes to fix our roads” to one that focused on greater and better use of existing General Fund revenues and on structural reform to the South Carolina Department of Transportation (SCDOT).

The state Board of Economic Advisors (BEA) projects that General Fund revenues will increase at an average rate of $355 million annually over the next ten years, and the Senate GOP Caucus’ plan uses that projected growth to “fund” a cut in the state income tax that returns about $700 million to South Carolina taxpayers over the first five years. The plan also provides for an increase in the gas tax and other fees – specifically dedicated to roads – that raises approximately that same amount. This is, of course, a simplified summary, but it gets to the point of the plan.
I do not believe this “lower income taxes in exchange for higher gas taxes” plan is the right approach, and my objections to this and other aspects of the Senate GOP Caucus plan are set forth below. That said, however, the press conference held by the Senate GOP Caucus has unquestionably had the desired effect of changing the political conversation away from a massive tax increase to one that focuses on how to best use the projected growth in existing General Fund revenues. Prior to that press conference, no serious consideration was being given to any proposal other than a straight-up tax increase. Sen. Harvey Peeler, the Senate GOP Caucus Leader, deserves tremendous credit for putting last week’s press conference together and fundamentally redirecting the debate.

Here is where I stand, and why: First, I reject the premise that our state does not appropriate sufficient funds for our transportation needs. It does; the money just isn’t wisely spent. Total annual spending in South Carolina on roads and bridges in 2009 (the first year I served in the State Senate) was $1.051 billion, whereas the budget passed by the State Senate last week for the upcoming fiscal year appropriates $1.627 billion – an increase of 54.8 percent. Yes, our roads and bridges are in bad condition, but that’s not because of underfunding; it’s because decisions on how to spend the appropriated money are being made by a politically motivated and legislatively controlled state agency.

Even if one concedes more money should be spent on roads and bridges, it does not then follow that taxes must be raised. Last week, the State Senate passed a budget that appropriated an additional $69 million in recurring revenue toward roads and bridges, and that was on top of the $50 million increase in recurring revenue appropriated in 2013. Additionally, in the so-called “supplemental section” of that budget (which appropriates money collected by the state during the fiscal year that wasn’t certified at the time the budget was passed) the State Senate dedicated all revenues in excess of the first $27.6 million collected to funding local government C-fund resurfacing projects (instead of doling it out to a laundry list of pet projects as usual). If prior year supplemental revenues are any guide, and everything we are hearing from the BEA says they are, then that’s at least another new $100 million going toward roads and bridges in this year’s budget. Here are the BEA projections in General Fund revenue growth – that is, new recurring funds – over the next ten years (rounded to the nearest million):

FY 16-17 $337 million
FY 17-18 $278 million
FY 18-19 $341 million
FY 19-20 $303 million
FY 20-21 $374 million
FY 21-22 $330 million
FY 22-23 $410 million
FY 23-24 $340 million
FY 24-25 $450 million
FY 25-26 $392 million

The average amount of recurring annual growth over this ten-year period is $355 million. If 30 percent of this annual growth – or about $100 million a year – were dedicated to roads and bridges, then after seven years there’d be enough new recurring revenue to satisfy even the high-end estimates of our transportation needs. That’s not simply wishful thinking that has no political chance of ever happening; just look at what the State Senate did in this year’s budget!

image: http://fitsnews.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/05/davis-282×370.jpg


I believe dedicating a portion of the General Fund’s revenue growth over a series of years is a better plan than the tax-swap proposed by the Senate GOP Caucus. Yes, there are similarities in that both take into account the projected growth in General Fund revenues over time, with my proposal using a portion of the growth to fund roads and bridges and the caucus plan using it to “fund” the income tax cut. My primary concern about tax-swaps is that the legislature, in future sessions, would allow the tax increase to occur but suspend the tax cut. I realize the Senate GOP Caucus plan is for the tax increases and cuts to travel in tandem, with a suspension in one resulting in the automatic suspension of the other, but my concerns remain. It’s much simpler and cleaner, not to mention safer for the taxpayers, to fund roads and bridges out of the growth in existing revenues, rather than engage in a more complicated tax-swap.

Another way I think the Senate GOP Caucus proposal falls short is in regard to restructuring the SCDOT. To its credit, the caucus plan has the governor appointing all of the SCDOT commissioners, and this helps put accountability for expenditure decisions where it belongs – with the governor. However, the commissioners selected by the governor in the caucus plan have to meet with the approval of the legislatively controlled Joint Transportation Review Committee (JTRC). The JTRC approval should be deleted from the plan; better yet, the commission should be abolished entirely, and expenditure decisions should be made by a cabinet-level Secretary of Transportation, appointed by the governor and confirmed by the State Senate.

It is also important, I believe, for any roads plan passed by the legislature to involve the state devolving control over some roads to local governments. According to research published by the South Carolina Policy Council (SCPC), there are approximately 65,800 miles of roads in South Carolina, with 63 percent of them being controlled by the state. By way of comparison, the average state DOT controls only 19 percent of roads in other states. Road miles should be transferred by the state to local governments along with an appropriate share of gas tax revenue. The SCPC summarized the benefits of this as follows: “Local governments would have better knowledge than a centralized entity of local road conditions. Further, local governments’ proximity and accountability to the citizens who use the roads in their borders would provide them an incentive not to neglect rural or residential roads that currently receive little attention from DOT. Currently they can simply blame the state – with some justification. Road devolution would take away that excuse.”

These are my thoughts on how to best maintain our state’s roads and bridges and on the plans being considered. The State Senate will probably start debating the bill passed by the Senate Finance Committee (a straight-up tax/fee increase of $700 million annually) next week, and will likely continue debating it through the end of the current session – 5 p.m. on June 4th. Things will be moving very fast at the State House over the final three weeks of session, and my decisions along the way will be guided by the principles and concepts discussed above. I welcome and encourage your thoughts, comments, and criticisms on this issue of vital importance to our state, so please let me know what you think.

Tom Davis represents Beaufort County in the South Carolina Senate.

gas tax on special order

IMG_4491.JPGI have used parliamentary procedures for several weeks to block the gas tax hike. Unfortunately, the bill is up for debate. I voted against this motion. There is no way I will ever support a $800 million tax increase on the citizens of The Palmetto State.

Now, we must see if we can amend the bill to make it less abhorrent. Hopefully, we can offset the gas tax with an income tax decrease. Also, we must reform the department of transportation, because it is a very inefficient agency. They do not use enough of the money they get to repair and maintain our crumbling roads and deteriorating bridges.