South Carolina state lawmakers still may be sending pork home to their districts. But at least everyone will know they're doing it.
Last week, the state House of Representatives adopted a ban on the longtime practice of anony-mously adding state aid for pet projects. From now on, sponsors of earmarks must publicly declare themselves.
The ban, while passed in the House, also will apply to spending plans that come from the Senate. And the measure had bipartisan support.
"This puts the spotlight on everything," House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, said. "If lawmakers are not willing to put their name by an item they are requesting, it is probably something that should not be done in the first place."
The ban may prevent some of the mutual back-scratching and deal making that goes on out of public view. But it also will give House leaders more power to control the flow of state aid as a way to reward and punish other lawmakers.
Pork often is in the eye of the beholder. What one state representative might view as wasteful spending might be regarded as manna for a worthy local project by the folks back home. Either way, though, the sponsor of the earmark ought to own up to it.
U.S. Sen. Jim DeMint, R-S.C., has made it his mission to battle earmarks at the congressional level. He, too, succeeded in making the process more transparent by requiring all sponsors of earmarks to be listed on the Internet.
All this is good news for constituents. Conducting government business openly makes for better government.
State lawmakers agree to a ban that would require sponsors of pork to go public.