Monday, December 3, 2007

Education Finance Reform - Let The Study Begin!

Rep. Jeff Duncan picked to head Education Finance study committee

State Representative Jeff Duncan (Dist. 15 - Laurens/Newberry Counties) has been appointed as Chairman of the newly created Education Finance Act (EFA) Study Committee that is tasked with reviewing how our state funds education. The Committee is charged with thoroughly reviewing the state’s 30-year-old education funding formula, specifically, the Education Finance Act, Education Improvement Act and Education Accountability Act. In addition, the Committee will work to provide recommendations it deems appropriate to improve on our current system.

As Chairman, Duncan is slated to lead the bi-partisan committee through the process of looking at the formulas South Carolina uses to fund public education, how the money flows down to the districts, schools and teachers, and the categories or funnels through which this money flows. While South Carolina's system for school finance has many positive attributes, the system still suffers from substantial shortcomings that limit the ability of the state’s educators to use funding in ways that produce the best results for students, and especially for students who are most in need of academic improvement.

Currently, funds flow to the districts through 74 restrictive categorical programs, each with its own formula for allocation, criteria and prescription for use. “This is a landmark opportunity to have a positive influence on public education and our state itself,” Duncan said. “After 30 years, it is time that the state begins looking at the funding system, the spending restrictions placed on the districts and ways in which we can get more of the money allocated to public education down to where the rubber meets the road – in the schools and the classrooms.”

“My personal goals,” Duncan stated “would be to provide the maximum amount of flexibility for the districts in spending state dollars, allowing districts and schools to shift resources into initiatives and activities that can make a real difference for their students. The second goal would be to reduce and eliminate some of the burdensome accounting and reporting requirements now found in the EFA, EIA and EAA, possibly reducing some associated administrative costs.”

Speaker of the House, Bobby Harrell, appointed the members of the Committee and picked Duncan as its Chairman. “It is time for our state to review a funding formula that has not been looked at in over 30 years to determine if it reflects the goals and obligations our state has in respect to the education of our children,” Speaker Harrell said. “To ensure our children are given the proper tools to succeed, we need to make sure they have a system that is set up for success.”

Duncan has set the first organizational meeting for Monday, December 10th in Columbia, when the 15 members of the Committee will begin their work.

Thursday, November 22, 2007

I am Thankful For A Lot of Things

It is difficult to list all that we have to be Thankful for. But I do want to point out a few of the most important to me.

Family: The Lord blessed me with a wonderful wife, Melody. Then He added to that blessing when she gave me three terrific sons. I am Thankful that our parents are still alive and close enough to enjoy time together regularly.

Service: I am Thankful that I have been given the opportunity to serve in the SC House of Representatives - it is a tremendous experience!

Things I enjoy: I am Thankful for the outdoors, the outdoor traditions of hunting and fishing and for all things wild.

Friends: I am Thankful for all of my close friends. You guys/gals are great!

Opportunities: I am Thankful for all of the opportunities that the Lord has given me: Business, travel, meeting people, challenges.

Grace: Not enough is said or Thanks given to God for His Grace. What a powerful word.

Happiness: I am Thankful for happiness and laughter. As I write this, I hear my youngest son laughing downstairs! What a great sound it is. I am happy with my life.

I am Thankful for you, the readers of this blog and your comments. It all helps me be a better father, husband, small business owner and Representative. HAPPY THANKSGIVING!

Tuesday, November 13, 2007

Georgia Governor has right idea

From AssociatedContent article:
"Georgia Governor Sonny Perdue is going to tackle North Georgia's drought problem like any intelligent, thinking politician would do.

He's going to pray for rain.

The Baptist governor, who enjoys strong support from Georgia's Christian conservatives, has sent out invitations to a prayer service for rain at the Capitol next Tuesday.

Perdue's spokeswoman Heather Teilheit said, "Georgia needs rain. The issue at the heart of our drought problems is a lack of rain. And there is nothing the government can do to make that happen."

Fair enough.

Teilheit continued, "The governor recognizes that the request has got to be made to a higher power.""

The rest of the article is found here: by AssociatedContent writer Jack Oceano. I copied the above and want to give him his credit.

I applaud Gov. Perdue! The author of this article is more than a little whacked out, though.

Sonny Perdue is right on track. Hey, Governor Perdue: We need rain here in South Carolina, too. Can you lift us up in prayer as well?

Monday, November 5, 2007

Power & Energy 2

I have given a lot of thought to my power and energy post concerning Santee Cooper's proposed plant in the Lowcountry. First off, let me say that I do not and will not, as a Legislator, have a vote in this. The permitting process lies with DHEC/EPA and public hearings are underway. But this is not just a Lowcountry issue. It is a South Carolina issue - from an environmental angle and from a future power angle.

I have heard that some folks say that if Santee Cooper and the other power producers would just raise their rates, companies like Alcoa and Nucor would leave South Carolina, lessening the demand for power and negating the need for a new power station. I, for one, don't want to see Alcoa and Nucor, or any other business providing wages for South Carolinians for that matter, go away. In addition, meeting the power supply demands of future businesses and industries is important to job creation in South Carolina - and that is important to me.

I don't believe that wind farms and solar arrays can provide enough power to meet these demands - because if they could, you would see entrepreneurs lining up to get these things up and running. That is not to say that theses sources are irrelevant - because they are not. They are a part of the formula for lessening our dependence on foreign oil and providing clean energy, not the solution. The solution has yet to be found - it is not hydrogen, it is not ethanol, it is not biodiesel, it is not wind, it is not solar, and it is probably not LNG - yet. Right now, it is a combination of all of these things that are helping us reduce our addiction to Arab oil. By working on these things, I hope and believe that we will find a solution. And to be honest, I like having electricity at my home or office when I flip the switch.

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Power & Energy

Santee Cooper plans to build a new coal-fired power plant in the Pee Dee region and a lot of the environmentalists are up in arms. Let me try to put some things in perspective. From what I have read, this plant will be the most state-of-the art coal burning power plant in the United States, with the best technology for clean emissions. Sure, it is a business proposition for Santee Cooper. Just as important, having the power supply for business and industry, manufacturing and residential demands may help South Carolina compete globally for jobs or be the deciding factor that keeps these jobs here and not moved to China.

It is not funny that I mentioned China. If we want to discuss clean air and emissions from coal-fired power plants, we need to note that China is bringing a new power plant on-line weekly if not daily! Most of which are coal burning. There are no regulations on these plants - none - concerning the emissions. That is why the U. S. didn't sign the Kyoto Protocol - because the regulatory burden would have been on U. S. manufacturing and power producers, not China and other developing nations. I am not saying that we need to have a laissez-faire attitude about the environment. We need to make sure that Santee Cooper does what it plans to do - use the latest technology to insure that the emissions there are as clean as possible. But at the same time, I think the environmentalist dollars (and there are a bunch) could be better spent encouraging Congress to put as much pressure on China to do something about its emissions. I mean, heck, something would be better than nothing, right?

If we want to talk clean power, then nuclear is the answer. There again, the environmentalist movement has been its own worst enemy in that arena. The U. S. has not permitted a single new nuclear power plant in over 30 years, due to the efforts of the environmentalist movement. Now, however, even the environmentalists have come to agree, in part I believe, that nuclear power is the cleanest power available at the present time. We need to get moving in this country on permitting nuclear power - for the environment and for lessening our dependence on foreign fossil fuels. The failure to do so has put us behind nations like France and England in terms of clean energy production. Furthermore, thanks to an Executive Order issued by President Jimmy Carter, the U. S. only gets about 5% of the available energy from each uranium fuel rod by not recycling. France gets about 95% of the available energy from each fuel rod, resulting in less waste and more proficiency.

Don't get me wrong here. I, too, am concerned about air and water quality in South Carolina and I will go to bat for the environment any day when it makes sense. But commonsense tells me that the environment in South Carolina is at the mercy of states to our west, really. The prevailing jet stream winds bring a lot of crappy stuff to our air. Instead of blowing on by us and out to sea, they hit another wind source, coastal winds blowing in from the ocean, which stall the jet stream, stymie the pollutants and cause them to fall in our state. Maybe a lobbying effort to have power plants in Georgia and Tennessee put on the latest scrubber technology on their exhaust stacks would be better for South Carolina than fighting the Santee Cooper plant.

Wednesday, October 17, 2007

"Port" is a four-letter word

Ok - so "Port" is a four-letter word. But I think it is a dang good four-letter word that should be used more often by officials in South Carolina! Let me advocate a little for the Port of Charleston and SC Ports Authority.

Why did Charleston, South Carolina become a major city in the 1600's and lead to South Carolina's dominance as an economic player in the early years of this country? Yes, rice and indigo, along with other great agriculture crops of the plantation era contributed. But without a way to get the goods to market (think port here, please), South Carolina would not have been the leader that it was and still can be.

I recently heard Senator Leatherman give opening remarks as the chief Delegate to the Southeast U.S./Japan trade conference in Tokyo, juxtaposed alongside Governors and Secretaries of Commerce from seven other Southeastern states. He said some great things in his remarks about South Carolina. But how can you discuss international trade and not mention the SC Ports Authority and the Port of Charleston?!

Everybody in South Carolina talks about the need for jobs and has an eye on foreign investment as a means to make these jobs happen. We praise the Dubai announcement in Orangeburg County and hold BMW out as the State's poster child for economic development. But without the Port of Charleston, would these be realities in South Carolina?

There is no doubt that we will have to continue to improve and expand our highway systems in order to support Port growth. One attractive thing about the Port of Charleston is how quickly the container trucks can hit the open road (Interstate Highways) delivering the goods. A terrific rail access and interstate system is what helped Dubai make its decision to locate the inland port in Orangeburg, I'll wager.

Some highlights that I would love to see SC Governor Mark Sanford, Sec. of Commerce Joe Taylor and Senators like Hugh Leatherman be able to cite off the cuff: 1) The history of the port at Charleston; 2) 45' deepwater-plus channel to handle the largest container ships in the world; 3) 3 container terminals with one new terminal under construction; 4) tremendous private investment in distribution centers around the Charleston area to handle distribution functions at no cost to the state; 5) averaging 41 container moves per crane per hour; 6) two hours or less to open ocean sailing.

The Port of Charleston is a jewel in the State of South Carolina's crown. Use it to make South Carolina shine on the world stage. I can assure you that Virginia, Georgia and Florida all held their ports out as shining examples of their states being "OPEN FOR BUSINESS" to companies like Sony, Canon and Toyota.

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Lost Respect for Nobel Prize

Al Gore wins Nobel Peace Prize? Well, all that means to me is that I have less respect for the Nobel Peace Prize now. I plan on writing about global warming at some point. I am still studying the issues and learning. Is the earth warming - no doubt in my mind - but in the 1970's we were hearing of a new ice age. I think things run in cycles, though. Even political topics run in cycles; prior to the global warming debate it was concern over the hole in the ozone layer. Have you heard of that topic lately - nah..... We are on to the next crisis that can fund our campaigns/lobbying efforts/causes. I am amazed that someone like Al Gore can spout half-truths (much of what was used in his movie has been revealed to be inaccurate spins) and be heralded by the Nobel group as the new champion. If not for the hypocrisy.....I would have an easier time with it all. Please check back for later blog posts on global warming and energy........JD

Sunday, October 14, 2007

Attending SEUS Conference in Japan

Representative Jeff Duncan attends Southeastern US/Japan trade conference in Tokyo.

Continuing my research and education about the global economy and how the world is changing, I have chosen to attend the Southeastern US/Japan trade conference in Tokyo this week. All of the General Assembly had been invited to participate by the South Carolina Department of Commerce, with only Representative Billy Witherspoon and myself from the House and Senators McGill and Leatherman from the Senate attending.

This trip, paid for myself, will further my introduction into the Orient, the Pacific Rim economic development arena and it's close alliance with the Southeastern United States. South Carolina is blessed with many Japanese companies and we hope to attract even more, as Japanese firms are wonderful corporate citizens and employers. In the Laurens/Newberry areas, we have firms like Kimura, Fukoku, Komatsu, along with Fuji in Greenwood and a heap of other SC/Japanese ventures.

Senator Leatherman offered the opening remarks on behalf of South Carolina, along with representatives from other states including Gov. Purdue of Georgia; Gov. Bredesen of Tennessee; Gov. Riley of Alabama; and the Sec. of Commerce from Virginia, North Carolina and Mississippi.

I look forward to future Blogs about how the world is changing and, more importantly, how South Carolina can change to embrace it.

Sunday, October 7, 2007

21st Century Great Wall of China

I have been doing a lot of thinking about the global economy lately and the things I saw in China when I was there in 2005. We traveled to Guangzhou and Beijing on the trip and I was amazed at all of the new construction, infrastructure and growth I witnessed. And the cars! My previous thoughts of China did not include that many vehicles.
South Carolina Governor Mark Sanford is criticized for quoting Thomas Friedman's The World is Flat, but I would guess that most of those critics have not read the book. I have; and what I saw in China makes it hit home even more.
In Guangzhou, we met with some logistic businesses centered around the brand-new Guangzhou-Baiyun airport, which we flew out of later. This airport had opened just 30 days prior to our visit. There was a new superhighway leading out to the airport, beautifully landscaped; there were tremendous logistic, custom and banking facilities surrounding the airport. You can GoogleEarth this airport and see what I am talking about. Wow! Here is the point:
While meeting with the logistics folks, jet-lag set in for me, so I got up and walked around this new office building. Looking outside into the logistics park, I noticed some Chinese workers installing a storm drain or sewer line - pre-cast concrete pipe probably 3 feet in diameter. We had seen the shanty area on-site where the workers lived earlier. This group of men were installing this pipe with shovels, wheelbarrows and hoes. In fact, I could see a good distance in this area where the new construction was taking place. The only modern equipment I saw was a roller packer. These guys were installing all this by hand.
Now, I juxtapose this with a quick side trip to the Great Wall on the Saturday morning before we left. The Great Wall runs high along the mountains' ridge in the Baldaling area where we were, just north of Beijing. This fortifying wall was built by hand, by peasant labor. Huge granite block by block, brick paving stone by brick paving stone, were carried up to the ridge and laid in place, all by hand. A tremendous task covering thousands of miles.
My impression was that the new Chinese economy is being built by modern-day Emperors using the labor of peasant workers, much the same way that the Great Wall was built. The buildings, the ports, the logistic areas, the airports, the highways. All being built the same way.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Barnwell & DHEC

This is a Letter to the Editor I sent to The State:

Recently, The State has published articles relating to the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Barnwell Low-level Nuclear Disposal Site operated by Energy Solutions. As Chairman of the Environmental I Sub-Committee of the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee, let me clarify a few things for your readers:
This past spring, my committee began hearing testimony on legislation which would extend the life of the Barnwell site by allowing Energy Solutions to continue accepting nuclear waste from states which are not part of a regional compact. The committee heard both pro and con testimony from concerned citizens, business leaders, environmental advocacy groups and experts in the field of nuclear waste. The total time of this testimony was close to eight hours, with all sides having been given ample time to make their argument and for our Committee members to have their questions answered. During day two of the public hearings, officials from DHEC were available to answer the questions of committee members and provide whatever data was needed. DHEC officials were also available to the members of the General Assembly outside of the public hearings to provide any available information concerning Barnwell, just as they are available for assistance with any other matter we may have arise. We learned of the radioactive element tritium, pica curies and milirems.
The maps obtained by The State through a Freedom of Information request were stamped “Confidential,” meaning that at one time they were considered proprietary for the operator of the Barnwell site. In addition, one must take into consideration the world events in place at the time the maps were provided to the Agency – shortly after 9/11, when the Federal Government was issuing strong concerns to the states concerning any nuclear waste which could be used in the fabrication of “dirty bombs.” The Committee heard of the tritium plumes, the contaminated church property adjoining the site, which the operator cleaned up, and we discussed the possibilities that the Savannah River tributary known as “Mary’s Branch” may be carrying contamination toward the river. All these things, along with the history of the Barnwell site and South Carolina’s role in the disposal of the nation’s low-level nuclear waste were taken into consideration in the Committee’s decision to not extend the life of the Barnwell site by a vote of 16-0.
Throughout the Barnwell hearings, prior to the Barnwell hearings and since, DHEC has always been extremely responsive in providing the necessary information for legislators to make informed decisions. Do we always agree with the Agency – No. But for anyone to insinuate that the Agency purposely withheld information or attempted to misguide the General Assembly is ludicrous.

Saturday, July 21, 2007

Senator Verdin Sends mail on Illegal Immigration

Way to go Danny Verdin. Senator Verdin recently jumped on the illegal immigration bandwagon in a BIG way (not that he wasn't already on it) by sending out a mail piece that was excellent.

From the piece: "State Senator Danny Verdin says that illegal immigration has become a harsh reality in South Carolina and Congress isn't acting fast enough to fix the problem. He and his Senate colleagues have found a way to address the issue at the state level.

Many southern states, including Georgia, Tennessee and Lousiana have already enacted laws preventing businesses from hiring illegal immigrants. Verdin says that if we don't act soon, South Carolina will become a safe haven for illegal immigrants fleeing other states, putting a massive burden on taxpayers."

It goes on to say: "We must welcome legal immigrants in South Carolina. But we cannot allow those who entered our nation illegally to stay here on the backs of hardworking taxpayers." Senator Verdin continues, "At the Federal level, amnesty is the absolute wrong thing to do."

Thanks, Senator Verdin and colleagues, for pounding the rock on this issue!

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Too Much Government

Public School Choice - Open Enrollment

I am a big fan of parental choice in all aspects of our children's lives. I have been an advocate for more parental choice in education and I support public school choice as a component of the total choice package. It was interesting this Spring to watch the debate on the Open Enrollment bill in the South Carolina House of Representatives - to see the players involved, to hear and read the rhetoric, etc. What was interesting is that the past opponents of school choice issues involving private schools, such as the Put Parents In Charge bills, were using the same arguments that the supporters of the Put Parents In Charge bills used. Now, though, they were using these points in support of their position on the Open Enrollment bill. Interesting, to say the least!

I support the idea and ideals behind this legislation. The problems revealed during the debate, most articulately by Rep. Ted Pitts, were that there was just too much government in this bill. With the district caps, the application bureaucracy and red tape for parents, the transportation issues and the funding issues - it was just a good idea gone wrong.

Why can't we take the easy and simple road?

My thoughts are this: If a school district has extra capacity then make it availabe, allowing parents who wish to move their child to do so on a 1st come / 1st served basis until the capacity is met; the parents making the choice provide the transportation, period; let the state and federal dollars flow with the child to the receiving district and let the home district retain all of the local funding. I realize that this may cause an underfunding dynamic per child to the receiving district - but it is a start and seems fair to the home district as well as the receiving district.

It can be just that simple.

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Prayerful Consideration

Dan Hoover with The Greenville News called today to ask if I was considering running against Lindsey Graham for the United States Senate. I don't know how he heard this - but I answered his questions truthfully. Yes - I am prayerfully considering the possibilities. Why?

A number of folks from all across the state have asked me to consider this.

You see, it seems that people in South Carolina are just as upset as I that our senior Senator would work with members of the other party, namely Ted Kennedy, to craft a comprehensive piece of legislation dealing with Immigration Reform in secret. I have a lot of concerns about this legislation and the processes I am seeing take place in Washington which could and do affect this great country of ours.

Should the Lord guide me to run against Lindsey Graham, you will hear more about these concerns as well as my visions for America.

I know there are a lot of people searching for someone, anyone, to run against him. As I search for this decision, I ask for your continued prayers and positive thoughts - for me and my family, as well as Lindsey Graham.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Prayers for Whetsell Family

The prayers of my family and mine go out to the Whetsell family. It hit home for me as I was at Camp McCall - an RA camp in Pickens County - this week with one of my sons. I am at a loss for words about this tragic accident. God Bless you Walter and your family....... Jeff

Wednesday, June 20, 2007


We are so glad that Greenlight Biofuels chose Laurens County, specifically Clinton, for its new operation. Erik Lytikainen, VP for Development and the lead man for Greenlight here in SC, has been great to work with and we are thankful that he and Greenlight decided to locate in Laurens County. I envision the day when all of the County vehicles will be burning biodiesel fuels. Here is a link to Greenlight's website:

What is so cool about this biodiesel fuel is that there is no conversion needed to standard diesel engines. Here is the announcement from the SC Department of Commerce:

Greenlight Biofuels Announces Carolina Gateway Project in Laurens County, S.C.
Facility to Produce Renewable Fuel and Bring New Opportunity to Laurens County

Columbia, S.C. – The South Carolina Department of Commerce and the Laurens County Development Corporation joined Greenlight Biofuels, LLC today in announcing that the company will develop a biodiesel production facility in Laurens County, South Carolina. Once completed, the Carolina Gateway project will produce up to 10 million gallons of renewable biodiesel fuel each year and will create up to 15 full-time jobs. The company expects to begin construction of the facility before the end of 2007.

Greenlight President Allen Cunningham remarked, “We are excited to be a part of an industry that contributes to national energy independence, local economic growth, and a cleaner environment. This project will continue Greenlight’s rapid advance into the biodiesel market.”
“Today’s announcement works hand-in-hand to preserve the quality of life we enjoy in South Carolina while providing an economic benefit to the local community. Also, given the jobs connected with this type of industry, it’s another step towards diversifying our economy and creating new opportunities in our state,” said Gov. Mark Sanford.

"Everyone is challenged to keep pace with the increasing cost of fuel and energy. These day-to-day costs can make or break a farm or any business. Renewable fuels energize the economy, add to our nation’s security, and protect the environment while giving a boost to farm profit,” said Hugh Weathers, South Carolina Commissioner of Agriculture. “Production of renewable fuels like Greenlight Biofuels’ biodiesel allow South Carolina’s rural communities, farmers, and entrepreneurs to benefit economically and, at the same time, helps our nation work towards greater energy independence. I welcome Greenlight Biofuels to South Carolina and commend them for energizing the state’s economy."

“We are very pleased to have a company of this type coming to Laurens County. It shows that Laurens County is a very pro-business county. We have been very impressed with the company and look forward to an excellent working relationship,” said Jim Coleman, Chairman, Laurens County Council.

“The alternative energy field is a very high profile industry and has significant potential in the future. This could be a stepping stone for Laurens County to attract other high profile companies in the future,” said Marvin Moss, Sr. Project Manager, Laurens County Development Corporation.

Greenlight Biofuels, LLC was founded by Greenlight Energy Resources to develop, build, own, and operate biodiesel facilities in North America. Greenlight Energy Resources was formed by the principals of Greenlight Energy, Inc (GEI) following the $100 million sale of their wind energy company to BP Alternative Energy North America, Inc. At the time of the sale in 2006, GEI was one of the largest independent wind energy companies in the country with a 6,000 MW development pipeline comprised of large-scale wind energy projects in 15 states.

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Immigration Round 2

Special Note: The picture of the flags on the post below is a shot of the flags hoisted by Hispanic demonstrators in California. Notice that it is a Mexican flag flown above an upside down American flag.

I travel around the state a lot - probably around 60,000 miles per year - in my business. Let me be clear that the opinions I have on immigration are formulated from hearing what a lot of folks are saying in a lot of different areas about illegal immigration. Most South Carolinians, from what I ascertain, want and expect the Legislature to began working on the illegal immigration issue here in South Carolina. They are not sure what we can do, but they do expect us to begin doing something. I don't really know what we can effectively do, either, but I want to see the debate begin.

The House passed three immigration bills, with the main focus on a study committee process. I refiled these bills in May as one bill, since the Senate is insisting on S392 and not taking up the House's bills. House Judiciary is not taking up S392 since we have already passed the three House bills. I had hoped to recall S392 in order to amend that bill to this version of three and keep the debate alive. That is the reasoning behind my thwarted efforts to recall S392.

I commend Senator Graham for having the statesmanship to tackle controversial issues such as this. I think he needs to take this one step at a time, though, and secure the borders first - I mean, it is already the law in the United States that we are not enforcing - and then we can tackle the other issues. But maybe that is too simple.

My apologies go to the agriculture community and the manufacturing community if I unfairly singled them out in the last post. Most importantly to Farm Bureau and to the SC Chamber of Commerce. These groups represent a constituency, too, and do a GREAT job advocating for them. It was not a shot at them or even a shot across the bow - I simply stated that in contrast to what I am hearing out of these camps - "the majority of citizens in this state want to see us tackle the immigration issue. And we can do a few small things to make the environment less attractive to illegals...."

Now, I realize that most folks do not differentiate between illegal immigrants and legal immigrants, legal workers and legalized citizens. I further realize that even legal immigrants will only tolerate harassment for so long before they leave for more hospitable environments. We don't need that, nor can our economy afford that.

I also know that industries such as agriculture, horticulture, home building and construction, along with the hospitality industry have trouble getting and keeping folks to do the necessary work.

This issue is on the minds of a lot of folks. My opinions here and in the previous post are meant to help us think through the issues at hand and begin the healthy debate.

If it needs to be only addressed at the Federal level and cannot be effectively dealt with at the state level, so be it. Just make sure that some of the money collected from the immigrants under the bill currently being debated in Congress comes back to the states to make up for the money we spend on services we have provided here.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Why worry about immigration in South Carolina?

South Carolina needs to act, and has every right to act, on the illegal immigration issue. Why?

You see, with Georgia passing a comprehensive immigration bill (passed in the spring of 2006) and North Carolina and Tennessee working on one likewise, it just seems to make sense that the illegals would come here since we are giving away state services to them - such as taxpayer supported education, medicaid and other social services.
For instance, just think about the non-english speaking impact on public education and PACT results as one example.

But, hey, this is a Federal issue, right? Come on, folks, it is your tax dollars here in South Carolina that pay for a lot of the freebies for these immigrants. That is why it is a state issue - and even more so with the Congress failing to do anything substantive.

Rep. Mike Pitts filed a comprehensive bill this winter, as did Sen. Chip Campsen. We have tried to recall Senate Bill S392 from House Judiciary all spring. I know I have tried numerous times, as has Rep. Mike Pitts, Rep. Eric Bedingfield and Rep. Dwight Loftis. Thanks to these guys!

to Rep. Gloria Haskins, Rep. John Scott, Rep. Harry Ott, Rep. Chris Hart and Rep. Bakari Sellers
for blocking any immigration debate on the House floor. Contrary to other opponents like the State Chamber of Commerce and Farm Bureau, the majority of citizens in this state want to see us tackle the immigration issue. And we can do a few small things to make the environment less attractive to illegals - and that is what we are talking about - illegals - folks who have broken one major United States law by crossing the border.

Just Food for thought:
It is my understanding that there is no Federal cap on the number of agriculture workers that can be brought into the US with a green card work visa. They shouldn't need illegals, then. Work with us here, guys. I don't think anyone wants to hurt the agriculture community's ability to grow, pick or milk this nation's food.

(EDITED INSERT - June 19th - see also IMMIGRATION ROUND 2) I fully understand that the agriculture industries have trouble getting and keeping the necessary labor. And the lack of a Federal cap doesn't mean that there is an unlimited supply of laborers, as one would assume. But the question to ask is "Is there a means to work within the current system to bring in the necessary legal workers to satisfy the demands of the agriculture industry?"

And to the manufacturing community: Make a good faith effort to check immigration status, document everything and then don't worry about the state penalizing you. All the bills that I have seen simply want you to make a good faith effort. I know you are already doing this - because you shouldn't want to - and don't - hire illegals, right?

To our Congressional Delegation: First Things First: SECURE OUR BORDERS!
The will of the people is there. Spend what it takes. You can justify it, since that is what the American people seem to want. If we don't stop the tide, the rest is just rhetorical anyway. A monumental task? Sure it is. But we are Americans and we can do anything we put our minds to. Build what you need, hire what you need - and "git 'er done." You eat an elephant one bite at a time. And while we are stopping the flow, you guys in Washington can work out how we deal with the 12 million or so illegals that are already here, as well as the "who, how and how many LEGAL immigrants" that we Americans want to let into OUR COUNTRY every year.

The Impact:
I stumbled onto this video clip which puts the numbers into perspective. It is worth watching for the 14 or so minutes it takes.

Sunday, June 3, 2007

In layman's terms

You are in the cashier's lane at Wal-Mart. You have a few items which you regularly purchase and you watch the cashier ring up the sale. She overcharges you. You ask her to check the total - she re-figures - admitting to overcharging you, but she remains insistent that you overpay for the goods/services that you bought.

Reality Check: South Carolina has overcharged and over-collected from the taxpayers to the tune of $1.5 Billion - the amount over and above the expected revenue amount used to calculate and spend in last year's budget. It is called a "Budget Surplus" but in reality it is an amount that was collected over and above the needs of the state.

In real numbers it looks like $1,500,000,000. As my colleague Rep. Walt McLeod says: that's a lot of dough!

South Carolinians that are paying attention are asking for a refund of the overcharges.

Now, I don't think that South Carolinians mind a reasonable growth of government - mirroring the growth of the state's population and it's thirst for services from state government. Nor do I think that most South Carolinians really mind seeing the state spend money fixing roads and bridges or investing in the state's port, a jewel in the state's crown in my opinion. That is common-sense stuff. I don't, however, believe that the taxpayers want to see Columbia spend all of the money they were overtaxed.

The Budget Conference Committee is arguring over a $170 million tax cut (income tax and groceries). Let's see - out of $1.5 BILLION that amounts to 11% plus or minus returned to the taxpayer - while 89% or $1.3 BILLION is still spent.

We could and should do more to limit government's growth and return some of this hard-earned money to the taxpayer. We are setting ourselves up for a fall (really a fall in many forms). Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it.

For me, it comes down to one basic question of "What is the proper role of government and the government's use of taxpayer dollars?"

Thursday, May 31, 2007

Evolutionary Politics

It is an evolutionary process. The legislative process, that is.
Every law, every regulation, every filed bill, every idea - is in constant flux, evolving toward something else. I have either heard or read somewhere that there are around 3000 pieces of legislation filed during every Session of the General Assembly. New ideas or the discovered need to tweak current laws are addressed in each bill.
You see, sometimes either current events or the application of the current law can reveal caveats or issues that weren't thought about during the original passage of the bill. And most times, bills rarely end in the same form that they began - due to the process of discussion, debate, public input, amendments, etc. I am a firm believer in the legislative process which has been in place for over 200 years.

I guess that is why I get so ticked off by the media's initial reporting on most bills filed in the General Assembly - they either only read the title and not the meat of the legislation, or they don't take the time to investigate and talk with the sponsors to discover the reasons behind the legislation - before they rush to report. Not all reporters are so quick to opine and I respect reporters who seem at least willing to talk with legislators prior to writing a story. I told Aaron Gould Sheinin @ The State that very thing the other day. My local paper, The Clinton Chronicle, was a prime example of this recently. They chose to report on the "Campus Carry Bill", relying on other media reports for their information (which had it wrong to begin with) and not bothering to contact me to say "Hey, Jeff - what's up with that legislation you filed?" I had to call them - after two weeks of their reporting and editorial columns, not to mention letters to the editor, all based on wrong and poor reporting in other journals - to ask when they were going to bother to call me. Go figure.

And how in the world does the press justify not commenting on Sen. John Land's rant and filibuster against the Worker's Comp Reform bill, when he profits hugely every year by practicing before the Worker's Comp Commission? In my opinion, he should have recused himself from the debate and not voted due to a conflict of interest. If that had been a Republican lawmaker doing the same thing, I believe the press would have hollered loudly!

I spoke recently with an acquaintance, who considers herself a liberal in the political sense, who was discussing something she saw on CNN. She watches all of the cable news channels, so I asked her: "Do you believe everything that FOX News says?" She said "Heck no - they spin it to their view!" I said: "Well, why do you believe that CNN or MSNBC reports accurately on everything they report on?" I can tell you that they don't - they report it how they want it to sound. That is OK for an editorial or opinion column, and for opinion shows like "The Factor." But when you are reporting the news, or holding yourself out to the public that this is news, I would love to see you guys in the press get it straight and let the opinions form from correct information. It is all coming so fast these days with the "McNews" formats that the lines between opinion and facts get blurred. Go Figure again.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Trying to Make Sense of it All

The thirst for power trumps all responsiblity to the voters.
There are two realities in South Carolina - the first is one that most of the citizens live in - the one where you work hard, raise the family and figure out how to pay the light bill sometimes.

The other is the reality around the capital in Columbia. That is the reality which tends to cloud judgements and helps people find ways to justify their actions. It is a false reality, too. Recent votes and actions prove the first sentence of this post. Add the power of the purse - the ability to spend money without fear of accountability - and you create a scary mixture. Food for thought: Years ago I read that "Absolute power corrupts absolutely."

Why do we work so hard to pass pro-business legislation like Tort Reform, Medical Malpractice Reform and Workers' Comp Reform - along with bills supporting conservative ideals such as the pro-life Ultrasound bill, the support for Right to Work laws, protection against Eminent Domain abuse and affirmation of the institution of marriage between man and woman - if we aren't going to try to put like-minded judges on the bench?

These judges will one day have cases that deal with all of the issues just mentioned. That is why groups like BIPEC, SC Policy Council, NFIB and the Palmetto Family Council got involved. They have worked just as hard to support our efforts to pass legislation on the issues just mentioned.

I am putting this Supreme Court vote behind me and moving on as of today.

I am going to focus on what I consider to be a poor budget - one that spends way too much and doesn't give enough back to the taxpayers from whom it was taken. I don't know what I can do at this point, though. It looks as if we will spend all of the $1.5 Billion that we overtaxed you this year and I am truly sorry. (Excuse me - we did have $81 Million in tax relief in the House budget. So, the House's version spends $1.419 Billion of your money.)

The Colonials in the 1700's protested about taxation without representation. Remember the reality that you live in and think about where your representation is.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

In the Shadow of a Massacre - Are we Safe?

Here in South Carolina, and the Nation for that matter, we have two choices when thinking about the tragedy on the campus of Virginia Tech. We can put our head in the sand, hide from the issue, hope and pray that nothing like this, God willing, will ever happen here. Or we can choose to be proactive in addressing whether or not our campuses are as safe and secure as they should be. I have chosen the latter of the two because I would not want, at some time down the road, for something terrible to happen here and have South Carolinians ask “What did our elected officials do to make sure we were safe following the Virginia Tech massacre?”

Here is what I know: In 1996, the South Carolina Legislature wrote our current Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP) laws and in doing so, created a number of exemptions in the right to carry laws, one being an exemption from the right to legally carry a firearm with a concealed weapons permit on college and school campuses. In the 10 years since this law was enacted, South Carolina has issued almost 54,000 Concealed Weapons Permits. There has not been a single documented case of a CWP holder in a crime where a firearm has been involved. Not a single one. To obtain a CWP in this state, you must be 21 years old or older, undergo both a criminal and mental health background check, and complete an 8 hour firearm safety class with instruction on the state’s concealed carry laws.

The Bill: I didn’t draft a new bill to address the issue. I had legal counsel take the existing CWP law, with its campus exemptions, and strike everything that dealt with school campuses. Why? So that we would have a clean slate as we began the process of discussing this issue, because safety and security are important enough for us to consider everything, leaving no stone unturned or argument unanswered. I knew that there would be cynics and critics, and that I would catch a lot of heat over this issue. That heat I am willing to take for tackling the difficult and emotional issues in order to insure that our children and college students are as safe as we can make them.

Many folks think the idea for this legislation came directly from the Virginia Tech incident. It did not. As a matter of fact, a Clemson student asked us to look into this same issue late last spring, as he was concerned for his safety and the safety of other students in the wake of several violent episodes on and around the Clemson campus. There was no time at the end of the Legislative Session to begin the process of changing or creating laws. Then the massacre happened and the idea bubbled back to the surface. So we began looking into the way our state had created the so called “gun-free zones” on school and college campuses, to see if there was anything we might need to address.

What has it gotten us? Exactly what I had envisioned. Now we are thinking about and discussing the issues surrounding campus and school security. I have talked with the chiefs of campus security at Clemson, USC, MUSC, the College of Charleston and Columbia College. And although they may not agree with the legislation, they do agree that it is healthy for us to be talking about security at these venues, much the same way our Nation began talking about the security and safety of our country in the days which followed 9/11.

The national media has sensationalized the events at Virginia Tech to the point where normally rational and reasonable people are speculating that this legislation’s intent is to “arm school children and allow college students to carry firearms around in their book bags.” That couldn’t be further from the truth and simply reading the legislation would answer those questions.

More that I know: I am alarmed to find that not every school in South Carolina has a Resource Officer. If this is a budgetary issue, we could address it from Columbia or we could encourage our School Boards to put more emphasis on security by allocating the necessary resources for these officers. I also am aware that the current laws prohibit any firearm from coming onto campus, even if it is lawfully carried in the vehicle of a parent who is simply dropping off his children at the school in the morning. That would be a felony violation. Ever had a firearm in your vehicle when you have traveled to a Clemson or Carolina football game, for your protection and that of your family if something were to happen on the late-night drive home after the game? Once you are on school property, you are technically in a Felony violation of the law.

I chose the existing law as the template from which to work as we move forward. I have stated very clearly that it has NEVER been the intent to allow CWP holders to carry firearms into the stadium or coliseum for sporting events, and I would support an amendment addressing that. Some folks, however, would use the sensationalizing of this one facet of the bill to cloud the true objective – the safety of our campuses and that simply is not fair.

This bill is most likely not the answer and it does have its legitimate questions. Even with 20 Co-Sponsors, I am not pushing it. But rather, I am letting the tried and true legislative process of discussion, public input and debate work. The issue is so important to the American people that the topic has made all of the major newspapers in the state, every Columbia TV station, along with national news channels like CNN, CNN Radio, HNN, FOX NEWS, CBS, ABC and multiple radio stations across two states. The discussions cover everything from school/campus safety to a citizen’s right to personal protection on down to the meaning of the United States Constitution. Who can argue that it is not healthy for us to discuss the issue?

Conclusions: I do know that Virginia’s law on this topic is very similar to South Carolina’s law. I also know that, while it's not clear that a CWP holder would have stopped the Virginia Tech shooter, it is clear that the ban of firearms on campus did nothing to hinder the murderer there. Persons intent on committing these type crimes are not going to “first check in at the office” prior to going onto the campus. Remember, it wasn’t very long ago that Presbyterian College (in my District) had an intruder, who ultimately killed himself on campus, but who could have just as easily entered a building on campus and committed a Virginia Tech style shooting instead of just wandering around there for half an hour or so.

Just Added: Good Read: A Principal & His Gun

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Senator Mike Fair has an arm!

"Its a hard drive deep to left-center field...getting by Sen. Kevin Bryant I believe...Duncan rounds second, rounds third...he is headed for home!... Sen. Mike Fair takes the relay throw and fires towards homeplate...its going to be close, folks ... Duncan plows into the catcher and has an in-the-park HOMERUN!!"

I am feeling my 41 years today while nursing the huge strawberry on my arm.

The Filibusters beat our Amenders at the 14th annual Legislative Softball Game - Score 22 to 5. (Only 4 Senators played - the rest were staffers!)

Friday, May 18, 2007

How To Protect the Constitution

My deskmate in the House, and one of my closest friends in life, Rep. Mike Pitts (R-Laurens/Greenwood) had a quote which he used in his first House race.

He said: "I keep my voter's registration card in my gun cabinet. They protect each other." Mike, I am giving you my pocket copy of the United States Constitution to put in your gun cabinet for protection, too.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

Liberal Fear

CNN called this morning to ask if I would be willing to appear on Paula Zahn's show tonight with Rep. Todd Rutherford (D/Richland Co.). Putting off an opportunity to conduct an auction tonight and make some $$ (important around my house, since we are part-time legislators), I agreed. They called again around 3:00 PM and I went through the pre-show interview - feeling me out on the issues. I then went home, changed clothes and got in the car to head back to Columbia for the show --- only to get a call from CNN --- "Uh, Representative Duncan, we have found someone else to come on the show tonight to handle your side of the issue and so, we decided we will not need you." Now, no offense to the gentleman from the Grassroots Gunowners Association - but he didn't have anything to do with the drafting of this bill. Yeah, OK. He did testify last week at the Sub-Committee hearing. But I would think that you would want the author of the bill to at least be involved and to explain his reasoning behind the legislation. I am fine debating Todd Rutherford on this or any other issue. As a side note, I really like Todd and I have tremendous respect for him on a lot of fronts.

But, apparently CNN decided that they didn't want someone like me on the show - with a levelheaded, commonsense, non-sensational and non-emotional approach to the issue. Instead they wanted to create a flamboyant debate and give Rep. Rutherford a chance to win - Thus furthering the liberal agenda and promoting big government to protect us. Go Figure. How does Glenn Beck stand it over there?

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Proud of My President

Have you seen this photo? This is one reason I love my President. In Greensburg, KS

Sunday, May 13, 2007

Fred Thompson for President

One of my favorite movie lines:

Well, we're waiting....."

Sign me up! Jeff Duncan

Real Wisdom

"Mightn't it be better in those areas of high crime to arm the homeowner and the shopkeeper, teach him how to use his weapons and put the word out to the underworld that it is not longer totally safe to rob and murder?

Our nation was built and civilized by men and women who used guns in self-defense and in pursuit of peace. One wonders indeed, if the rising crime rate, isn't due as much as anything to the criminal's instinctive knowledge that the average victim no longer has means of self-protection." - Ronald Reagan, Guns & Ammo, Sept. 1975

Thursday, May 10, 2007

Guns & Roses

Campus Carry Bill:

The Facts: Concealed Weapons Permit (CWP) holders would be able to carry on college and public school campuses under this bill. To obtain a CWP in South Carolina, one must be 21 years old, undergo both a criminal and mental health background check, and take an 8 hour firearm safety & carry law class. The CWP law has been on the books in the Palmetto State for over 10 years with over 53,000 permits issued. Not a single incident has been reported of a CWP holder being involved in a crime with a firearm here in South Carolina.

Why not let responsible adults who take the steps to obtain a CWP carry a firearm for personal protection, protection of private property or protection of others carry on campus? Some argue that we shouldn't have concealed weapons on campus, as college kids have a tendency to act irresponsibly. Well, first-off, we are talking about 21 year-olds (so probably Seniors, right) who would be showing some responsibility if they went through the steps to obtain a CWP. And let's be honest folks: If a college kid was going to use a gun on a teacher who gave him/her a bad grade, you think they are going to go through the trouble to obtain a CWP? Breaking the law is breaking the law.

Let's debate this issue and see what comes of it. From where I am sitting, any law which infringes on my right to keep and bear arms is unconstitutional, so I
would wager that the current laws are unconstitutional. But someone would have to challenge the existing laws in order to get the High Court to rule as to the constitutionality. Here is a GREAT article in US News & World Report:

Enough of the sensationalizing of the issue, juxtaposed against the sensationalizing of the VT massacre. We are looking for a solution so that South Carolina citizens can protect themselves, other citizens and their property. In other words, their Life, Liberty and Pursuit of Happiness.

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Stop the Insanity!

As we begin the process of voting for the next Supreme Court Justice in South Carolina, it pains me to have to make clear how broken this system is in our state.

As Republican legislators, we were elected by our folks back home. The people who sent us here made it very clear that they wanted the old system of wheeling and dealing to change. I campaigned on one very important promise: that I would vote to send qualified conservative judges to sit on the bench in this State. I know many of our colleagues in the Republican Party made the same campaign promises as well.

Today, we are watching what’s wrong with South Carolina’s system of electing judges unfold before our eyes. The SC Republican Party principles clearly state, “the existing system of electing judges in our state is flawed because it lacks public accountability and allows personal and political favoritism to overshadow merit and competence.” I know that there are many Democrats who also share this concern, as it is a concern that transcends party.

I am joined by colleagues today who want to make it clear that we will NOT be party to business as usual at the State House.

Today three candidates have passed through the screening committee process. Two of the candidates by any measure are qualified to serve on the South Carolina Supreme Court. The third, however, is clearly the beneficiary of the very problem I described above. We need accountability in this process and I think a quick glance at the records will describe clearly who is qualified and who is not.

The South Carolina Bar Association’s evaluation of judges makes clear that Judge Beatty is the least qualified judge on two very serious measures. The Bar's evaluation on two critical considerations include:

  • Fair and Effective Settlement Scores – High score, Judge Williams (83%); Low Score, Judge Beatty (35%)

  • Not Influenced by Identity of Lawyers – High score, Judge Williams (80%); Low Score, Judge Beatty (38%)
It is clear that the Bar has concerns about Judge Beatty’s legal ability and we should not brush that under the rug. In a quick glance at the record of the other candidates it is clear that Judge Bruce Williams has the respect and admiration of the legal community and would be the most qualified of the candidates. (Now, granted, I believe that we need to correct the screening process and allow more judges to be screened out, but that is another issue.)

I want to make it clear that I join my colleagues who argue that we need more African-American representation on the court. We need capable and qualified judges like Judge Reggie Lloyd, Judge Mathew Perry and Judge Ernest Finney. It is clear from the Bars own assessment that Judge Beatty does not meet this test.

I urge my colleagues to STOP the wheeling and dealing and keep their eyes on what matters most…ability. We will likely be selecting the next Chief Justice of the South Carolina Supreme Court this month. The gravity of this vote cannot be overstated – we need the most capable and qualified justice to fill that role. Our folks back home expect that of us as their elected representatives – anything less than the best is just an unacceptable continuation of what’s wrong with our system.

Sunday, May 6, 2007

Judiciary Caveat Emptor

I am concerned & troubled by recent and future events in South Carolina centered around the upcoming Supreme Court election. I found this information on the South Carolina Republican Party website: - click on "Platform"
THE JUDICIARY (from the SCGOP Platform on website - the second paragraph is most applicable to what is going on)
The South Carolina Republican Party deplores the social engineering and "legislating" from the bench that the judicial activism of the United States Supreme Court has permitted and encouraged. Many of the problems faced by our society today, and the difficulties that we encounter in addressing those problems, arise from the Judiciary's grants of power to the government of the United States above and beyond the specific powers enumerated in the Constitution. Consistent with the concept of strict construction of the United States Constitution, all federal judges and justices are urged to exercise judicial restraint in their rulings. We specifically call upon the Supreme Court to return to its historic role of interpreting and applying the Constitution as understood and intended by its Framers.

The Party recognizes the existing system of electing judges in our State is flawed because it lacks public accountability and allows personal and political favoritism to overshadow merit and competence. As long as judges are elected by the General Assembly, former legislators will have an advantage in judicial races without regard to qualification or judicial philosophy. The current method of electing judges has resulted in a judiciary that often does not reflect the conservative philosophy or standard of competency expected by the majority of South Carolina citizens. Because confidence in the judiciary is an essential underpinning of our government, this method must be reformed so as to inspire the confidence of the people of this State.
This is in the South Carolina Republican Party Platform. There is a lot of other good stuff in there, but this, I think, is apropos.

Thursday, May 3, 2007

Its The Constitution, Stupid

Building on the words of James Carville, ("Its the economy, stupid"), I believe the most important issue of the day is the US Constitution and the related amendments, primarily the Bill of Rights (1st ten Amendments if you slept through the third grade). You see, I believe that the drafters of the Constitution were just as inspired by God as the writers of any book in the Bible. Have you read it lately? (the Constitution, that is - I hope you have read the Bible) How about within the last 10 years? No?

How about this question: What liberties are protected in the 1st Amendment? All we seem to really think about, due to the drive-by media, is Freedom of Speech and Americans equate the 1st Amendment to Freedom of Speech. In fact, the website for Emory Law School (hey, it was the first Google link, ok) had this title for it:

Amendment I: Freedom of speech, religion, press, petition and assembly.

It will surprise you, I think, to see the whole Amendment, which I have posted below. Notice what Emory Law School lists as the first freedom in their title and then notice what the Founders listed as the first freedom guaranteed by the Bill of Rights. Interesting.

I guess I am a strict Constitutionist, so to speak. I believe it is a clear document and that, over time, it has been polluted by interpretation. We need to go back and really read it to understand where the founders of this nation saw the role of government in our lives, along with the relationship of the Federal government to the states. (The 9th and 10th Amendments address this).

Amendment 1: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

On the National Day of Prayer, I prayed for our Constitution.

Innocence Lost (2007 Version)

The Virginia Tech massacre has had me thinking a lot lately(as scary as that is). I didn't stay glued to the tube watching all of the coverage. I did, however, get to see some of it. And, as I was watching Fox News the day after the shooting, I was amazed at how calm the students were as they recounted the events they witnessed. There was very little emotion exhibited and their recaps seemed as methodical as the gunman's actions they were describing.

Juxtapose this to the emotions of the Columbine students as they recounted the events of that day. Now, granted, we are talking about high school students vs. college age kids. But that is not really my point.

The point is this: Have we in America become so de-sensitized to death, killings, murder, rape, drug useage, foul language and sex with children?

At one time I criticized the folks who were pointing their fingers at video games and the like as a contributing cause. Now, I am not so sure they are not at least partly right. It is apparent that there is little regard for human life or an understanding of the consequences of certain actions. The methodical way this boy at VT went about his killing was almost like he was going from level to level racking up "kills" like he was playing a game.

Other contributing factors that I think have played a part in our de-sensitizaton of things once seen as taboo include reality tv shows. Shows where Ozzy Osbourne and family use so much foul language that the audio is nothing but a series of beeeeeeeeps; bachelor/bachelorette shows glorifing promiscuous sex; island settings where couples are encouraged (I think temptation is the word used) to spend time with other parties - almost insuring adulterous actions, etc.

I am not prude. Admittedly, I use some language sometimes that would warrant a "R" rating by the movie board. For this I apologize. But I am a product of this popculture, too, and that is what I am getting at.

I long for times past when the lines were a little clearer as to right & wrong. When the media didn't glorify (or at least give so much attention to) acts of a maniac.

I want us to be shocked when we hear of incidents such as the VT massacre or teachers having inappropriate relations with children under their care and supervision. Not to have the feelings of "Oh, well, it has happened again."

Instead of us being shocked, society is looking for someone to blame. Folks, it is not the guns, but that is for a later blog. Let's lay the blame where it needs to rest: popculture; glorification of events (the kid at VT sent a video in the mail between shootings, knowing that the media was going to glorify this event); lack of parental involvement in the lives of our children; rewarding single-parent households, usually absence of the father; the list goes on.

In the words of Forrest Gump: That's all I have to say about that.

Wednesday, May 2, 2007

Textile League Baseball

I spent the first 6 or so years of my life on the mill hill in Simpsonville, South Carolina. Our nextdoor neighbor was a man named "Red" Barbary. I remember my father talking about Mr. Red playing professional baseball and I remember some of the baseball games they had going on at what is now Barbary Field in Simpsonville. The older I get, the more fascinated I am with the rich baseball heritage we have in South Carolina centered around Textile League Baseball. You probably have heard of Shoeless Joe Jackson, who got his start playing in the textile leagues. This link gets you to a great site which discusses textile league baseball:
To read about Red Barbary (he pitched 22 innings in one game and he wasn't a pitcher! He was a catcher - know for being able to sit behind the plate all day like he was sitting on a 5 gallon bucket) go to:

I could not believe that South Carolina had never done anything to formally recognize textile league baseball. The guys who played the game then are getting older and starting to pass away. The stories they tell are GREAT! I put a bill up to formally recognize the opening day of baseball season in South Carolina as "Textile League Baseball Day."

Trivia: The first baseball game ever played in South Carolina was played in Greenwood County in the Cokesbury Community in 1873.


I got up this morning and thought: Should I have really started a blog and posted my thoughts?

The picture of Tom Cruise in Jerry McGuier, rolling down the highway after he had sent his manuscript, singing "I'm Free Falling" came to mind!

Thanks to everyone who has taken the time to read this, post a comment or contact me with kudos. Don't worry - I'm going to keep on blogging.


Tuesday, May 1, 2007

My Heroes Have Always Been Cowboys-Until Today

Many Thanks to the courageous nine Senators voting their convictions and being true to Conservatism: Members voting AGAINST 3rd Reading of H. 3620 appropriations bill: Bryant, Campsen, Courson, Grooms, Hawkins, McConnell, Ryberg, Thomas, Verdin (my Senator!). Thanks Guys!

Why the name? My first BLOG

Why the name "Walk-on Legislator?" This is kind of how I feel sometimes serving in the SC House. See, I know what it feels like to be a walk-on athlete and the feelings are similar to what I am feeling now. As a walk-on athlete, you don't get the same "looks" as scholarship athletes. You don't get as many reps or plays (or as many chances to make mistakes such as running the wrong pattern). You had better make the most of any opportunities you get. I don't know if that makes sense, but the feelings are similar.
Why a Blog? I guess that I have a few things to get off of my chest from time to time. I enjoy reading some blogs, so I figured - what the hay!

Budget 2007
Let's discuss the state's budget which is currently being worked on. $7.875 Billion. WOW! We will see around $1.5 Billion in surplus money this year and had $1 Billion last year. Add 2005 in the mix and we have seen approximately $3 Billion in surpluses in the last three years. Now, I ask you: As the average Joe citizen in South Carolina have you seen any benefit? We ought to be giving some of this money back to the taxpayers. We tend to forget that it was the taxpayer's money before it was the governments. And we are proceeding to spend almost every dime. Aren't the Republicans in control? Super majority in the House; majority in the Senate; Lt. Governor; Governor; now the Treasurer, too. I don't get it and I am frustrated.

Cigarette Tax

Why pick this year to pass a cigarette tax increase? And if that is the will, why miss the opportunity to do something for the citizens of the state? We could have used the money to fund Medicaid or create a small business insurance pool to allow small businesses to provide affordable health insurance to their employees. But the "Leadership" wanted to have a tax swap - to be revenue neutral. OK. But why do something half-way by reducing the tax on groceries. Why not a total elimination of the grocery tax? Not enough money generated by the cigarette tax increase to cover the elimination? Why not use some of the surplus to make up the difference? We have $1.5 Billion for the love of Pete!!! I put up an Amendment to totally eliminate the tax on groceries - a way to give every citizen in South Carolina some money back this year. Nobody took it seriously or cared to listen as they were dazed by the previous defeat of the Crawford / Harrell Amendment seconds before. Obviously we are not serious about giving the taxpayers some of their hard-earned money back. The cigarette tax bill was Mickey Mouse and will never get taken up in the Senate, I don't think. I wore my Mickey Mouse tie to the Statehouse today for symbolism of the things that go on there sometimes.

I remember reading somewhere that those who don't remember the past are doomed to repeat it.
November Elections 2006. The Republicans lost the US Congress because they had lost touch. They forgot that we are the party of smaller, limited government and controlled spending.
Sound familiar? Green Bean Museums, library expansions (have you seen the library in Florence! Picture Above. Geez Louise!) and festivals aren't cutting it as far as Conservatives in this state go. The taxpayers want some of the $3 Billion back or at least see us spending on common-sense things like roads and bridges. Ask them - they'll tell you.

Put me in Coach.