Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:
The Sun News, Myrtle Beach, South Carolina, on appointed leaders:
In a military organization such as a state's National Guard, it makes sense that the overall commander, the adjutant general, is appointed. That's the case in every state except South Carolina. Here, the office of the adjutant general is one of nine on the ballot.
Gov. Nikki R. Haley earlier this month signed legislation, approved with wide support by the General Assembly, setting a public referendum in November on a constitutional amendment. If voters approve, the S.C. adjutant general will be appointed by the governor.
To the credit of House and Senate members, H.3540 was approved 105-5 in the House and 39-0 in the Senate. S.C. legislators may take a bipartisan bow — except for those five naysayers in the House. At least on this measure, bipartisanship was alive and well in the General Assembly and that surely is a good thing.
Credit also goes to Army Maj. Gen. Bob Livingston, who has worked to advance the measure through the legislature to the governor. When she signed H.3540, Haley and legislative leaders praised Livingston. "He is a great leader that has done great things for our National Guard and we wouldn't be here today without him. To know that we will have someone of his caliber appointed, rather than having to take a chance in an election, is an extremely important step forward for the people of South Carolina," Haley said.
Livingston was renominated last week by a wide margin over his Republican primary opponent and no Democrats sought nomination as adjutant general candidate. South Carolina has a highly ranked National Guard and voters have elected capable and qualified leaders in the past. It's risky, however, to take a chance on the possibility of election of a candidate with no military background. (Livingston's primary opponent, James Breazeale of Florence, is a lieutenant colonel in the Army Reserve.) Electing the adjutant general also causes stress through the organization and no military organization needs more stress than is part of the job
Even with having the gubernatorial offices elected as a team and appointing the adjutant general, the S.C. ballot will include the offices of secretary of state, treasurer, attorney general, comptroller general, state superintendent of education and commissioner of agriculture.
The Island Packet, Hilton Head Island, South Carolina, on development:
Hilton Head Island leaders are betting big that the town's economic development corporation can attract new businesses and younger residents to the island.
Town Council has given preliminary approval to its new budget that includes nearly $450,000 for the organization — up from its $150,000 designation last year.
About half of the money, $225,000, will pay for an executive director and assistant to run the corporation and report to the board. Board members have their sights set on a marketing campaign and business-scouting trips to find potential businesses to move to the island.
Generally, we have been supportive of town efforts to revitalize the island. Changes to its land management ordinance to provide more flexibility and applying tax increment financing (TIF) dollars to revitalize town corridors, including Coligny and Office Park Road, are important investments. In fact, they're essential expenditures to ensure Hilton Head remains competitive in the tourism game.
If Town Council needs help in identifying and attracting new businesses that are good fits for the town, we're willing to give these new efforts a chance too. Hilton Head represents a very specific niche and can only support low-impact businesses that don't need much physical space. We can see how a director with an expertise in locating such businesses would be advantageous.
We encourage Town Council to proceed — but with caution. While economic development corporations have become all the rage around the country, some research shows that they are no better at picking the businesses of tomorrow than anyone else. These corporations are a tool, not a solution, to charting a course for growth.
And it's of note that both Hilton Head's and Bluffton's development corporations have said that health care and tech firms are two of their chosen targets. The towns should not compete . . .
The Herald, Rock Hill, South Carolina, on passage of a texting-while-driving ban:
On June 4, with South Carolina's passage of a statewide ban on texting while driving, Montana became the only state in the nation without a ban. While it took far too long for the Palmetto State to join the other 48 states and the District of Columbia in banning this deadly practice, we are grateful that the bill passed by lawmakers had some teeth in it.
The version of the bill passed earlier by the Senate was a watered-down plan that would have applied only to young drivers with learning permits. Because it would have superseded local ordinances in about 20 cities and counties in the state, that version would have been worse than passing no ban at all.
Fortunately, lawmakers in both the House and Senate opted overwhelmingly for the House version, which also supersedes local ordinances but covers all drivers. Under the new law, it is illegal for anyone, regardless of age, to "use a wireless electronic communication device to compose, send or read a text-based communication while operating a motor vehicle on the public streets and highways of this state."
Lawmakers, however, included reasonable exceptions for the use of GPS navigators and texting to summon emergency services.
With this law, South Carolina now has a uniform statewide ban that will apply no matter where people might be driving. And while it sensibly bans texting for drivers of all ages, we hope it will have a significant effect on teen texting . . .
The new law doesn't feature onerous fines. Drivers who violate the texting ban would not receive penalty points, and fines would start at only $25.
Police would be prohibited from confiscating or viewing a cellphone to determine whether a driver was texting. During the first 180 days after the law goes into effect police would issue only warnings before citations are handed out.
But the value of the new law is likely to be in educating the public and prodding drivers to adapt their behavior to conform with the law.
Once young drivers internalize the fact that texting is both dangerous and illegal - and if they lose friends to texting-related accidents - they are likely to change their behavior voluntarily. The sooner that happens, the better.