To the Contrary

Regulating attorneys

The legislative branch of South Carolina government already controls its own branch, most of the executive branch and elects judges. Lawmakers shouldn't consolidate their control of the judicial branch by taking over the regulation of the legal profession.

The state constitution gives the Supreme Court the authority to license and discipline the state's lawyers. A pair of bills introduced in the House would change that. They would allow the General Assembly to establish a 13-member commission under the control of the Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation to take that job from the Supreme Court. ...

South Carolina has too many agencies reporting to boards appointed by lawmakers. It fragments responsibility and makes accountability to taxpayers impossible. ...

Lawmakers should not only refuse to establish another backward institution unique to South Carolina, they should also get rid of the Budget and Control Board.

Senior tax program

A program that enables retirees to work on public service jobs in return for property tax abatement is getting a welcome look in Charleston County.

In Aiken County, the idea has proven to be a winner for all involved. ...

The popularity of the 15-year program is evident. Last year, there were 500 applications for 150 slots. Several other local jurisdictions in the state already have followed Aiken's lead.

Council awaits a study on the program, but it's encouraging that both Chairman Tim Scott and Vice Chairman Joe McKeown support the idea.

Mr. McKeown cited a similar program in Boulder County, Colo. "Colorado's been doing it for 22 years," he said. "It's been successful everywhere it's tried."

Many retirees have a wealth of experience to bring to the public sector, and this program would provide it at a bargain rate. Meanwhile, seniors on fixed incomes could benefit from a program that allows them to work off their tax bill.

The county's analysis of the proposal should be considered not only by Charleston County Council, but its counterparts in Berkeley and Dorchester, as well.

Lobbyists' influence

It's no surprise that big tobacco companies are doling out the cash to South Carolina lawmakers.

Three industry groups spent at least $785,000 between June 2005 and June 2007, a Packet review of South Carolina Ethics Commission documents showed. ...

It's hard to see why tobacco companies would spend the money if they didn't think it would get them legislative results. Legislators who see this as a business issue, and not a tobacco issue, must recognize that these contributions are a business expense for these companies. They aren't contributing the money out of the goodness of their hearts.

And yes, we recognize that other industries also contribute to lawmakers' campaigns.

We're not saying companies don't have a right to make such contributions, but let's not delude ourselves about the intent behind them.

The more important message to be drawn from all this is the importance of people who live here telling our state lawmakers what we think about smoking bans and the cigarette tax. There's no doubt we outnumber tobacco industry lobbyists -- and we are the ones who will cast ballots in November when all 170 legislative seats are up for election.

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