Politics & Government

Bill would put a stop to varying S.C. flags flying in Palmetto State

S.C. political consultant Scott Malyerck has walked across the State House grounds for years.

When he was in college in the early ’80s, Malyerck passed by the State House on his way to campus. When he was deputy state treasurer from 2007-10, he worked in the State House complex’s Wade Hampton Building.

“Every day, I’d see the state Capitol and the flag over the dome.”

But this year, Malyerck looked up at the dome and saw a different flag. Specifically, the palmetto tree on the flag flying on the dome was shaped differently.

Malyerck said when he inquired, he was told the flag design changed because the flag manufacturer was different.

“As there is no official description of the South Carolina State Flag in regulation or code, the statewide contract description of the flag focuses not on design detail but rather the quality of the materials used,” said Department of Administration Spokeswoman Kelly Coakley. “As such, the state flag design may vary depending on the manufacturer.”

That, Malyerck decided, could not stand. So he urged his lawmakers to introduce legislation requiring a uniform S.C. flag — no more misshapen palmettos.

Part of the problem is while S.C. law says the flag will be blue and have a white palmetto tree and crescent on it, that law does not set specifications for their exact placement or design. As a result, some variations have found themselves into the state flags produced by competing flagmakers.

Sen. Ronnie Cromer, R-Newberry, introduced a proposal to require a standardized flag in the state Senate. Rep. Rick Martin, R-Newberry, introduced a similar proposal in the House. Both bills did not advance this year but could be considered when lawmakers return for a new session in January.

“Every building should fly the same flag,” Martin said, adding variations in the flag are disrespectful to S.C. residents who have died fighting in wars. S.C. residents should pick the flag design, Martin added.

“Our symbol in our flag is very popular,” said Malyerck, adding he owns a dozen ties with palmetto-tree designs.

But, Malyerck added, the state flag is too important a symbol to leave its design up to the manufacturer. “It’s common sense to have a flag that is uniform, standardized, that flies over our State House year after year, decade after decade.”

Cassie Cope: 803-771-8657, @cassielcope

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