To the Contrary

Oppose coal-fired plant

There might be a dangerous sentiment in the Lowcountry that what happens somewhere else in the state won't have a profound effect on our lives on the coast.

We'd be dead wrong.

A proposed coal-fired electricity plant in the Pee Dee is a perfect example. ...

The state-owned utility claims that the plant is needed to keep up with the energy demand resulting from breakneck growth in the state. The utility says the $1 billion facility is expected to satisfy an 835-megawatt deficit that the company projects South Carolinians will face by 2015.

No one wants rolling blackouts, but a little conservation and better management practices are the keys to keeping the lights on and our health and environment unscathed. ...

We hold our own futures, and our children's futures, in our hands and have the opportunity right now to battle this threat against our health, economy, livelihoods and environment.

The threat is closer and costlier than you think.

Road maintenance

There must be something in the water. Even when state officials start talking about turning responsibility for local matters over to local governments, they can't seem to wrap their minds around the concept of actually relinquishing control over those matters.

The latest example comes from the Department of Transportation, whose commissioners want to find a way to hand responsibility to counties and municipalities for dirt roads, parking lots, subdivision roads and short roads that lead to individual homes or buildings.

Shedding responsibility for local roads is a long-overdue idea, although we see no reason that any level of government should be responsible for parking lots and what are essentially driveways. Our state's tradition of controlling practically everything from Columbia has created the fourth-largest state-maintained highway system in the nation. ...

Some roads fall into the same category as education: They're important to our entire state, not just to the local community. But if they aren't state priorities, then the roads and the responsibility for maintaining them need to be turned over to local governments -- along with the authority to raise whatever amount of money the local communities are willing to put into their upkeep.

On the Net:

(Spartanburg) Herald Journal on DUI legislation, Oct. 23:

A couple of South Carolina senators say they have doubts about the effectiveness of legislation intended to toughen the state's drunken driving laws. The only doubt is whether these senators have been paying attention.

The Palmetto State has one of the worst records in the nation for alcohol-related deaths among motorists and an abysmal record for treating driving under the influence like the dangerous crime it is. ...

After a period of declining arrests for driving under the influence between 2000 and 2004 and a horrible record for alcohol-related traffic accidents, state and local law enforcement agencies stepped up patrols to catch the offenders. But unless the Senate recognizes the need for stronger DUI laws that get repeat offenders off our highways, that effort will be futile.

Other members of the Senate should be paying attention, refusing to weaken the House-passed bill when returning to work in January and finally approving legislation that will do much to help protect motorists from drunken drivers.

On the Net:

The (Columbia) State on state constitution, Oct. 24:

Three years ago, Attorney General Henry McMaster sent shock waves through our state's legal and political communities when he intervened in a lawsuit largely on behalf of the person suing the state. As he explained at the time, his job is not to defend the General Assembly but rather to defend the state's constitution (that's why he gets to refer to himself as "the State" in legal documents). He is as obliged to oppose the Legislature when it violates the constitution as he is to oppose an individual who violates our laws.

We are delighted to see that this wasn't a fluke. Earlier this month, Mr. McMaster once again sided with constitutional gadfly Ed Sloan (or, more accurately, with the constitution), who is challenging the Legislature's way of doing business.

In his latest suit, Mr. Sloan argues that five laws passed this year violate the constitutional prohibition on laws that apply to a single county and that four others violate the single-subject rule, which prohibits stringing unrelated measures together in a single bill. ...

To try to defend these single-county laws is, at best, intellectually dishonest, and we hope the Legislature will reconsider its position. It's not that we worry that the Supreme Court will accept its fantasyland position. But we'd like to think our Legislature is capable of admitting when it's wrong, rather than forcing the court to force it to obey the constitution that every legislator swore an oath to "preserve, protect, and defend."

On the Net: