The Palmetto Insider

The blog of the South Carolina Policy Council

Special-Special Interest Legislation

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A good law is one that is fair and applies equally to everyone. The S.C. General Assembly passes very few good laws. As a result, lawmakers are constantly pressed to make exceptions. Business owners want targeted tax exemptions because overall tax rates are too high. Other firms want regulatory relief because compliance costs and regulatory burdens are too onerous. The number of potential exceptions are almost endless – precisely because there are so many bad laws. Here are two of the most egregious examples of special-special interest legislation taken up during the 2010 session.

H 3790 – A Mortgage Lender: This is a perfect example of how a bad law invites special-interest legislation. In 2009, the General Assembly passed legislation regulating the payday lending industry (see 2009 Best/Worst). This law carves out an exemption to the current regulatory system by allowing independent contractors (“qualified loan originators”) to pay a $50 licensing fee, instead of the $750 fee required of other lenders. According to The Nerve, the primary beneficiary of this legislation is Primerica, but Farm Bureau and one other company may have benefitted as well. The governor vetoed this legislation, but his veto was overridden by the General Assembly.

H 3075 – A Nonresidential Hunter: This bill would have granted a lifetime hunting license under very limited conditions – conditions apparently met by the son of one of Senator John Land’s friends. Governor Sanford vetoed the bill, arguing: “Our understanding is that the bizarre combination of the birthplace and property ownership requirements and the unusual application period was drafted, not because it represents a good policy, but because one senator is trying to do a favor for one of his out-of-state friends. We believe this kind of favoritism is an abuse of legislative power, and we simply cannot support this bill.” Responded Land in an interview with The Nerve: “I thought the governor would jump on that (amendment) as a libertarian. Some folks think you ought not have to have a license to hunt on your own land.” We’ll look for Land to introduce legislation doing just that in 2011.

For more examples of strange legislation introduced during 2010, see this Nerve story by Eric Ward.


Written by Jameson Taylor

October 26, 2010 at 8:40 am

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