- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:

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April 15

The Morning News of Florence on fixing roads in the state:

Thumbs down to our state government for failing AGAIN to agree on a plan to fix our crumbling roads. We were disappointed that the General Assembly didn’t pass a road plan in 2015. The House had a plan, but we didn’t think it was the best solution to a big problem. The Senate let time expire on its talk because of a filibuster by Tom Davis, a Republican from Beaufort. Leaders assured us that a roads plan was the highest priority in 2016. The Senate finally took action this spring, but the House made changes to the plan, and now senators and Gov. Nikki Haley are saying the bill probably dead for the year. Are you kidding us? The session is far from over. The debate should continue. Politics AGAIN seem to be getting in the way of progress. Haley wants S.C. Department of Transportation reform, to which we are not opposed. The Senate’s bill would give Haley the power to appoint all members of the DOT board, with Senate approval. The House changed the bill to have approval by the House and Senate, knowing full well that the Senate would balk. So here we are, going nowhere while bad roads get worse. Big businesses and little citizens have complained loudly. Are our state leaders deaf?

Online: https://www.scnow.com/

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April 18

The Sun News of Myrtle Beach on the state’s “bathroom bill:”

A powerful backlash to the ill-advised and hastily approved public restroom law in North Carolina unfortunately did not prevent an attempt at similar legislation in South Carolina, embodied in Senate bill 1203. Before a Senate committee heard testimony last week, opponents mobilized.

State Sen. Lee Bright of Spartanburg, chief sponsor of S 1203, claims to have concern about the safety of women in restrooms. Following that reasoning, women using public toilets are vulnerable to potential attacks from men posing as women - or pretending to be transgenders. That illustrates distressing unenlightment, but Bright adds, “If a (small percentage) of the population wants to be something that a majority of the population thinks is strange and abnormal, that’s their business. You can’t force people to accept something like that.” Accept what? That human rights apply to everyone?

Intellectually, Bright appears to have been on another planet - Mars, perhaps? - or paying no attention to the equality and civil rights issues at stake. Sen. Marlon Kimpson of Charleston alluded to the intrusive aspect of enforcement. “We’re going to have the Lee Bright genitalia patrol for bathrooms in South Carolina.”

Like the now-maligned N.C. law, S 1203 would invalidate municipal ordinances, including those in Myrtle Beach, Columbia and Charleston, that protect lesbians, gay men, bisexuals and transgenders from discrimination. Members of the LGBT community need protection from discrimination, not protection from a nontransgender lady from Little River. It’s the transgender high school or college student who needs protection from his or her peers, not the other way around, as suggested in the email blast sent last week by the Palmetto Family Council: “Protect Our Children in Restrooms and Showers.” The Palmetto Family Council, based in Columbia, organized testimony in support of S 1203.

“Bright’s bathroom bill would, if passed, make transgender students feel unsafe at school, said Greg Green, a 32-year-old transgender man who runs a support group for transgender people at his Columbia church,” Jamie Self and Andrew Shain of The State newspaper reported in The Sun News. “What it causes really is a lot of anxiety. My concern is the outing,” Green said.

Reaction to HB2 continued in North Carolina. Gov. Pat McCrory signed an executive order he said expanded protection for gay or transgender state employees. Attorney general Roy Cooper, who is McCrory’s re-election opponent, said the “executive order is a day late and a veto short.” (Mark Berman in The Washington Post.) Deutsche Bank announced the law caused the firm to put off plans to add 250 jobs in an expansion at its software application center in Cary.

PayPal earlier backed off from an announced expansion. Other major companies such as Apple, Google and American Airlines, have criticized the law. The Greater Raleigh Convention and Visitors Bureau reported more event cancellations. Bruce Springsteen cancelled a Greensboro concert. The NBA All-Star game may not be in Charlotte, as scheduled. The N.C. law clearly is bad for business, creating many economic hardships.

Many in South Carolina, including Gov. Nikki Haley, are aware of the problems from the N.C. law and know S 1203 will create the same here. There is reason for optimism that Bright’s bill will not advance in the General Assembly, and we hope that will be the outcome for this discriminatory proposal.

Online: https://www.myrtlebeachonline.com/

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April 20

The Aiken Standard on the NAACP:

In the 21st century, many would think the need for the NAACP had run its course.

After all, the civil rights movement had come and gone, and great strides were being undertaken in the name of racial equality. Or so one would think.

The need for the NAACP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, is as great today as it was when the civil rights watchdog group was formed 107 years ago. Founded Feb. 12, 1909, the NAACP is the nation’s oldest, largest and most widely recognized grassroots-based civil rights organization. Its more than half-million members and supporters throughout the U.S. and the world are the premier advocates for civil rights in their communities, campaigning for equal opportunity and conducting voter mobilization.

“Pursuing liberty in the face of injustice” was the theme for the Aiken County Branch of the NAACP’s 35th annual Freedom Fund Banquet on Friday night at USC Aiken.

Keynote speaker Derrick Johnson took that subject and made it the main message in his speech, saying it had the same relevance today as it did when the NAACP was founded.

Back then, the lives of African-Americans were in transition. They had gone from a system of slavery to a position of citizenship. Then, their situation became one of segregation.

Legislation to prevent lynching also was a big issue for the NAACP during its early years, said Johnson, who is a member of the civil rights organization’s national board of directors. He also is the president of the Mississippi State Conference of the NAACP.

Battles against injustice, Johnson continued, still are being fought. On a national level, problems include “legislating morality in a way that it discriminates,” he said.

Johnson also mentioned controversial incidents locally involving white law enforcement officers, the shooting death of Ernest Satterwhite Sr., and the treatment of a couple, Elijah Pontoon and Lakeya Hicks, following a traffic stop.

Strides against racism are taken daily, but it seems for every one step forward we take two steps back.

The Confederate flag flying at the state capitol finally comes down, but at what price? The lives of nine people in Charleston, gunned down in their place of worship.

These are contentious times.

All lives matter.

But certainly, this is not a level playing field.

In his message of welcome at the start of the Freedom Fund Banquet, Philip Howell, president of the NAACP’s Aiken County Branch, told the crowd, “We’ve had some bumps in the road in the last couple of months or so. But the mayor is pulling it together and so is the city manager and everybody. We are a team. Everybody here is a team. We are just so proud of Aiken, South Carolina.”

Yes, we are proud of Aiken, but yes, sadly, there is still a need for the NAACP.

Online: https://www.aikenstandard.com/

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