Veto CHE proviso
Last year, the S.C. Commission on Higher Education repeatedly denied a request for a $31.8 million football stadium at Coastal Carolina University. So university officials had to prevail upon their allies in the General Assembly to work out a funding plan to obtain the money to get construction under way.
The Legislature was willing to accommodate CCU and in doing so, skirt the CHE’s efforts to provide oversight and accountability.
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Clearly, legislative leaders don’t want to have to go through that again, so they inserted a proviso in this year’s budget that would strip the CHE of its statutory authority to keep state colleges within the necessary budgetary bounds.…
This budget proviso would make it harder for the agency to fulfill its duties. Gov. Henry McMaster ought to veto it.
Right call on life
If there was ever anyone who deserved to die for his crimes, it is (Todd) Kohlhepp. He has confessed to seven murders, some dating back 13 years. In the end, the Shiflets and other families, along with Kala Brown, who Kohlhepp kept in a cage on his property, signed off on life sentences.
This is the best possible outcome for everyone involved. For one, what’s the point of sentencing a man to die if the state has no way to kill him? South Carolina already has 38 people on the waiting list to be executed. Like many states, it hasn’t figured out how to carry them out. Officials have found it difficult to acquire the drugs needed to administer death by lethal injection. And maybe that’s a good thing.…
Kohlhepp’s list of crimes is unspeakable. He should never see the light of day. He will likely be housed in one of six high security prisons run by the South Carolina Department of Corrections at a cost of $19,935 annually, said Sommer Sharpe, a spokesman with the DOC.
Since the state doesn’t have the means to execute those on death row, 7th Circuit Solicitor Barry Barnette saw no reason to pursue the death penalty for Kohlhepp. Such cases can take up to two years to bring to trial and the appeals process can stretch for years.
FOI reform lacking
As much as the changes in FOIA are a people’s victory to be celebrated, the governor was on target at the signing ceremony in lamenting the absence of a key provision of the legislation.
At present, if an individual (or media organization) has a problem getting a request for public information filled, the person must file a lawsuit, hire an attorney and take the matter before a circuit judge. Depending on the severity of the situation, individuals and media likely and understandably will not want to spend the money and have so long a time go by as a request runs through the legal process.
The solution was creation an Office of Freedom of Information Act Review with the Administrative Law Court to hear direct challenges from citizens or media pertaining to alleged FOIA violations.
But Sen. Margie Bright Matthews of Colleton County for the second year objected to establishment of the Office of Freedom of Information Act Review based on cost and her assessment that people in her district cannot afford to go to Columbia to argue an FOIA matter.
So the legal remedy remains the circuit court, which requires hiring an attorney, though the compromise that got the bill through the Legislature and to (Gov. Henry) McMaster requires an initial court hearing within 10 days. Previously cases could be delayed indefinitely.
“But it’s still in circuit court, and that’s a cumbersome way to go,” McMaster said.
The governor and lawmakers championing FOIA as a vital tool for government transparency vow not to rest on the success of 2017.… (I)f the FOIA is to become more functionally useful, giving people a way to seek enforcement of its provisions without spending thousands of dollars in legal fees remains a priority.