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Governor Vetoes S.1143

June 12, 2008

by Jeffrey Sewell

Yesterday, Gov. Sanford took the General Assembly to task for trying to skirt the legislative process when he vetoed S. 1143.

The bill, first introduced by Sen. Glenn McConnell, would have offered consumers a tax break holiday for buying energy-efficient products. The House amended the bill to add certain firearms to the annual tax free holiday. But when the bill returned to the Senate, certain members of the upper house decided to by-pass the legislative process and tacked on an amendment relating to “splash blending” of ethanol in gasoline – something completely unrelated to tax-free holidays or energy-efficient product purchases. That’s called bobtailing.

The Governor, in his veto message, cited his reasons for vetoing the bill:

  • Sales tax holidays aren’t an effective way to promote energy efficiency.
  • “Splash blending” entangles federal energy policies with state laws.

  • Giving local retailers and distributors preferential treatment over out-of-state sources for blended gasolines could be unconstitutional by discriminating against interstate commerce.
  • The addition of the “splash blending” amendment violates the single-subject rule for laws in our state constitution.

So, while you stand there pumping $4 per gallon gasoline into your car, realize there is raging debate over the federal government’s strained ethanol energy policy. That, though, is not the issue here.

What is at issue is that the Senate tried to bobtail a non-related amendment on to what could have been a fairly decent bill.

As Gov. Sanford put it, “[The ethanol amendment] was never introduced as a separate bill nor discussed as an amendment in any subcommittee or committee of the General Assembly… and the public was denied opportunity to be informed of and participate in the consideration of the ethanol blending provisions.” That is the main reason the Supreme Court found bobtailing unconstitutional, because it bypasses the legislative process and keeps the public out of the debate.

This veto will be on legislators’ desks when they return in the coming weeks. If they override the veto, a law suit challenging the new law’s constitutionality would be inevitable. That would be a complete waste of hundreds of thousands of tax payers’ dollars in unnecessary legal costs.

Isn’t it enough that we’re getting socked at the pump? We don’t need to waste another dime on this issue. Here is one voice hoping that the General Assembly will be good stewards of the tax payer’s money and sustain the Governor’s veto.

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. June 12, 2008 7:55 PM

    Editors Note: We have been tough on this Gov, but that is our job. On this issue we could not agree more and compliment the Governor on his decision as it will save South Carolinians millions!

  2. Darrell Wallace permalink
    June 13, 2008 1:46 AM

    My sympathies lie with the Governor. There should be a law passed and if necessary, the South Carolina Constitution amended to prevent bob tailing such as this. There should be one bill of one subject. This would teach some legislators to really think out a bill before they propose it and if they want another subject addressed, then make another bill.
    Pray tell, what is so hard about that? I think this would cut out some of these pork barrel bills that conveniently are tacked on for special interests.
    Go Governor! You got it right in my book.

  3. Wilton Kanode permalink
    June 18, 2008 1:58 AM

    One would wonder about what possesses our state represntatives to use the bobtail route to pass any legislation. Thankfully we have a Governer who, in my estimation represents responsible goverance, and a legislature that is anything but responsible.

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