- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

August 17

Herald Journal, Spartanburg, South Carolina, on amendments to the state constitution:

South Carolina voters will cast ballots on two very different but worthwhile amendments to the state constitution this November.

The General Assembly has approved the amendments, and state officials have approved the explanations that will be placed on the ballot. If they are approved by voters, the General Assembly will write and presumably pass enabling legislation.

The first amendment on the ballot would remove the state’s monopoly on gambling. Although most of us have purchased tickets for one charitable raffle or another, these fundraisers are technically illegal, classified by state law as “lotteries.” Only the state is allowed to operate a lottery.

If voters approve the amendment, lawmakers would be able to pass a bill allowing nonprofit organizations, churches and clubs to hold raffles as a means of raising money for “charitable, religious, fraternal or educational” purposes.

There’s no reason not to make this change.

The second amendment on the ballot would change the way the state selects its adjutant general. This is the only state in the union that elects its adjutant general. That poses some problems.

Promotion to military rank and command is usually accomplished through merit, service and experience rather than the popular vote. Under South Carolina’s current system, a sergeant can run for adjutant general, and if he wins, he is automatically promoted to the rank of general.

That not only creates difficulty in the chain of command, it puts the state’s adjutant general at a disadvantage in dealing with commanders from other states and from federal forces.

State lawmakers did well to approve these two changes to the state constitution. They should face an easy approval from voters, leading the way to more successful charities and better emergency management.




August 12

Index-Journal, Greenwood, South Carolina, on putting video cameras on school buses:

It is very nearly here. It is likely greeted by some parents with much relief while teachers likely harbor mixed emotions.

Soon, yellow buses will take to the roads to pick up and deliver children.

A piece of legislation that quickly received Gov. Nikki Haley’s signature is relevant to the opening of school and the school year itself. It involves cameras and how they can be used to ticket those who violate the strict but safety-conscious laws surrounding school buses. And while some might see this as more Big Brother watching, we - and we trust most others - see it as sane and necessary.

Up until now, law enforcement had to witness someone passing a stopped school bus for a case to be prosecuted. Nowadays, buses are being equipped with cameras, and if a review of the images captured by camera can substantiate a bus driver’s claim of a violation, then a case can be prosecuted. As is often the case, the law about passing a stopped school bus was hard to prosecute. Many drivers knew there was little chance they’d get caught if they crept by the bus or passed by heading in the opposite direction - so long as no harm was done. With no one to see the violation, no case existed.

The effort here is to enforce sound law. Perhaps knowing there are cameras on buses will result in fewer violations to begin with, but if they capture offenders and those offenders can then be prosecuted, all the better.




August 16

Greenville News, Greenville, South Carolina, on offshore seismic testing:

The recent announcement that energy companies will be allowed to use seismic testing off the Atlantic Coast to search for potential oil and gas deposits beneath the ocean floor could open the door to significant economic development opportunities in South Carolina. The shift in policy is a major step forward for companies that want to harvest the natural resources from a coastal area that has been closed to drilling.

In South Carolina, the potential for oil and gas drilling off the coast could mean a $2.7 billion injection into the state’s economy over the next 20 years, and an $850 million per year increase to the state’s budget from royalties. It is a significant development for a state that is continually searching for ways to grow the economy, create jobs and pay for state services. In 2012, Sen. Lindsey Graham suggested offshore drilling could produce more jobs in South Carolina than both Boeing and BMW combined.

The Interior Department in 2011 estimated that beneath the waters off the Atlantic Coast there could be 3.3 billion barrels of recoverable oil and 312 trillion cubic feet of recoverable natural gas.

Even if those projections are overly optimistic there is no doubt that allowing oil exploration could open the door to significant economic growth in South Carolina and up and down the eastern seaboard.

The decision is not being universally praised, however. Environmentalists worry that the seismic testing could harm wildlife, particularly mammals such as dolphins and whales. Those concerns have been taken seriously by the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management that has put restrictions in place to protect sensitive animals, even if there remains some debate over how the seismic testing would affect the wildlife. …

Despite objections from the companies that will conduct the searches, these are reasonable protections that balance the need to conduct these surveys with the need to protect wildlife, particularly endangered species such as the right whale.

If reasonable steps are taken by the government and the oil and gas industry, the natural resources that are valuable to the tourism industry can be protected while the natural resources that are valuable to the energy industry are harvested. That coexistence can tremendously benefit South Carolina’s economy, and this first step toward identifying what resources are locked beneath the coastal floor is important and needs to be taken



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