5 things more important than abortion on the 2023 SC Legislative Agenda

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There’s a lot of chatter about a lot of things that don’t really matter to as many people as lawmakers like to think. Here are the things we think should be legislative priorities this term. Pay attention, General Assembly, this one’s for you.

Ballot Reform

Dr. Jermaine Johnson, Representative from District 70, will introduce legislation to make use of ranked-choice voting in future elections. Republican Leader McKissick already said on local news the measure will never pass. He knows the current voting system entrenches a super majority of Republicans in the General Assembly and that suits him just fine. Other objections include the complexity of the process i.e. voters will be confused, but let’s not underestimate the intelligence of our electorate just to preserve archaic systems. Our voting procedures are expensive (runoffs cost up to $1.5M each) and exclusionary. We need more voices and more choices and ranked choice voting can get us that. Learn more about ranked choice voting and the South Carolina leadership on the subject at BetterBallotSC.com.

Entrepreneurship and Occupational Licensing Reform

Statewide economic development begins at home. Defund incentives to draw businesses in from out of state. Make it easier to start a business, grow a business, and fund a business. Reform occupational licensing. Sixty of 102 lower-income occupations require licenses and South Carolina ranks 15th worst for occupational licensing. The General Assembly can get bureaucracy out of the way so more South Carolinians can become self-employed, can grow their own wealth, and provide for generational prosperity.

End Civil Asset Forfeiture

The injustice of South Carolina’s corrupt civil asset forfeiture is a poorly-kept secret. Nearly 40% of the forfeitures in South Carolina were from citizens who were never charged with a crime. The Greenville News and Anderson Independent published their investigation finding 70% of forfeiture cases wherein citizens petitioned to get their property restored defaulted to the agencies keeping the property. Other key stats:

  • Over half of the cash seizures were for less than $1,000
  • One third were for less than $500
  • The vast majority (71%) were Black citizens despite making up just 27% of the population as a whole.

The General Assembly should take legislative action to protect citizens from predatory law enforcement measures: limit seizures to admissible evidence, enact a fair and transparent process that upholds due process and abides by the Eighth Amendment excessive fines clause, and put the burden of proof on the government, not the citizen, for returning seized property.

Cannabis Decriminalization

Stop arresting people for growing, harvesting, selling, buying, and consuming cannabis. We don’t compromise on this with overly complex medical marijuana bills that expand bureaucracy. We don’t compromise on this with patients pleading their cases in front of a state-appointed board. Decriminalize cannabis: it’s a plant. Trust the citizens to do what they will with their own bodies. It doesn’t have to cost the state anything, in fact it would be a cost savings to pardon and release non-violent offenders being held on cannabis charges, to redirect policing efforts from. 

Certificate of Need

There are 35 states that rely on an antiquated, bureaucratic, process known as Certificate of Need to build healthcare infrastructure. In order to expand, add, or build new medical facilities, healthcare providers must petition the state and be granted permission. Existing hospitals favor this as they are currently serving uninsured individuals, required by law to treat those who cannot pay, while competitors like surgery centers are allowed to turn patients away. Because a disproportionate amount of hospital care goes to uninsured, underinsured, or government-insured (and thereby non-negotiable) individuals, the CON process prevents additional hospitals from entering the market and siphoning away those valuable commercially-insured (and lucrative) patients existing hospitals desperately need. This is protectionism and it’s wrong. 

Worse, the agency responsible for executing the existing CON process is the Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) which received a scathing report in 2022 wherein it was reported 1) “incumbent providers” or existing hospital organizations can be involved in various stages of the process, and 2) CON application processes delayed the construction of needed facilities by as much as a decade. Repeal legislation introduced in the last General Assembly session by the Senate was rejected in the House (source). DHEC has published its intent to reform; these are its first amendments in over a decade. Until forced to change, the agency had no incentive. Even now, the changes require more efficiency from DHEC, more oversight through tighter metrics and definitions without explaining how more work for bureaucracy results in more hospital beds for citizens. 

Repeal CON, get the bureaucrats out of the process, and force the incumbent providers to change their level of care and operation. Eliminate the barriers to entry, and new businesses will grow into spaces of need.

Ready to get involved? Click here to find the next meeting for your local SCLP group.

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