This Tweet reminded me of something I meant to post about:
SC Rep. @JamesSmithSC (D-Columbia), a candidate for #SCGov, is now up on House floor opposing bill that would prohibit cities from banning plastic bags.
“This is precisely the place for local governments to protect their communities.” #scpol
— Jamie Lovegrove (@jslovegrove) February 7, 2018
First, kudos to James for standing up on this: Forbidding local governments to clean up their communities is unconscionable.
But there’s a much bigger issue here than plastic bags littering the landscape: More than 40 years after passage of the Home Rule Act, the South Carolina General Assembly continues to bully local governments, preventing South Carolinians from running their own affairs in their own communities as they see fit.
It was always thus. From the beginning, long before the Recent Unpleasantness, the small class of plantation owners who ran things from the Legislature kept local governments weak, just as they did the governor. Home Rule was supposed to fix that, at least on the county level. But lawmakers kept vestiges of the Legislative State — such as unaccountable Special Purpose Districts (think Richland County Recreation Commission, and the Elections Commission in the same county). In some counties, state lawmakers even continued to run local schools.
And when local officials dare to try to improve their communities without the permission of the state, they can expect to have the state jump on them, hard.
We all saw what happened, nationally and locally, after the mass shooting in Las Vegas: Pretty much everyone, across the political spectrum, agreed that nobody needed a “bump stock,” and that the deadly devices were bad news all around.
And then, on the national level, nothing happened. And here in Columbia, elected officials decided they would act, within their limited ability to act: They banned the use, although not the possession, of bump stocks within the city limits.
It wasn’t much, but it made national news, and was much applauded as a case of some elected officials, somewhere, being willing do something.
So of course, a group of SC lawmakers decided they weren’t going to allow that. So Reps. Jonathon D. Hill, Craig A. Gagnon, Anne J. Thayer, Joshua A. Putnam — none of whom live anywhere near Columbia — sponsored H. 4707, “so as to provide that a political subdivision may not regulate firearm accessories.”
It’s the same old story in South Carolina: These lawmakers don’t propose to DO anything; they just want to make sure nobody else does anything….