Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:
The Herald of Rock Hill on make charitable raffles legal
Many churches and charitable organizations routinely hold raffles to raise money to support worthy causes. Beginning in 2015, these events might even be legal.
Right now, they aren't. Thanks to centuries-old anti-gambling laws, raffles, whatever the cause they support, are against the law. Technically, the only legal raffle in South Carolina is the state lottery.
South Carolina is one of only four states where raffles are illegal. But, if voters approve changes to the law in a statewide referendum in November 2014, the number could drop to three.
Last week, Gov. Nikki Haley signed a measure passed by the Legislature that lays out how nonprofits could legally hold raffles if voters approve a change to the state constitution next year. While the measure seems straightforward enough, its passage was more than seven years in the making.
The effort was blocked largely by gambling opponents who feared that legalizing raffles would provide a loophole for the return of video poker or the introduction of other forms of organized gambling. That fear was magnified when other proposals tried to also legalize kitchen-table poker games and poker-night charity events.
Unlike previous versions, the bill signed by Haley allows no poker-themed fundraisers and bars the possibility of organizers profiting from raffles. For example, nonprofits could not hire anyone to run the raffles.
This time around, nonprofit officials and anti-gambling lobbyists joined forces to create a bill that would have no unintended consequences.
South Carolina needs a sensible law like this one that will draw a clear distinction between a legitimate charitable event sponsored by nonprofits and a for-profit gambling operation. It also needs a law that reflects reality.
If the law against raffles is barely being enforced, then the law needs to be changed.
The Times and Democrat of Orangeburg on :
As public dollars boost Boeing, lawmakers should put brakes on use of state planes
South Carolina leaders are celebrating aviation. Boeing is taking off amid bipartisanship even as state planes need grounding in political and fiscal reality.
On Tuesday, Gov. Nikki Haley signed legislation to provide $120 million in incentives to Boeing for expansion plans in the state. The measure moved quickly through the Legislature after Boeing announced two weeks ago it would invest another $1 billion and create 2,000 jobs over eight years in North Charleston.
Lawmakers say Boeing's plans will put South Carolina in a position to become an aerospace hub, with suppliers locating across the state for not only Boeing but also possibly Airbus in Alabama.
House Speaker Bobby Harrell said he believes Boeing will deliver more than the minimum promised for the $120 million.
South Carolina taxpayers have reason to be optimistic. ...
Republican Rep. Bill Chumley sponsored conservative commentator Walter Williams' flight from the Washington area to push for a bill that initially sought to nullify the federal health care law. The state Aeronautics Commission says it would have charged a paying customer $6,400.
Chumley dismissed requests that he reimburse the state, calling Williams' testimony official state business.
Orangeburg Democratic Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter has asked the House Judiciary Committee for an opinion as to whether a legislator using a state plane for people testifying before a subcommittee qualifies as "official business."
She and other Democrats believe it does not.
Democratic Rep. James Smith, a member of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on Constitutional Laws, has stated. ...
Flights authorized by legislators, the governor and other constitutional officers are absorbed as part of the agency's budget. Agencies and public colleges also can use the planes for official business, but they must pay by the hour: $850 for the King Air C90 and $1,250 for the King Air 350. The agency is barred from making a profit on the per-hour cost. ...
Lourie was correct in his assessment in a Senate speech about the Chumley question: Use of a state aircraft in such fashion represented poor judgment, no matter what the legislation was about. "Imagine the chaos if all members decided to fly in experts for their bills."
The Post and Courier of Charleston on Internet sales taxes only fair:
The U.S. Senate last week took up a bill that authorizes every state government to require Internet sellers to collect sales taxes on goods shipped to customers in that state. This overdue legislation would correct a legal loophole that gives an unwarranted competitive advantage to out-of-state Internet sellers and hurts local businesses.
The Supreme Court ruled in 1992 that a retailer must have a physical presence in a state before it can be required to collect that state's sales taxes, but said Congress could pass a law overruling this finding. Since 1992 on-line sales have expanded dramatically, reaching a nationwide total of $223 billion in 2012, according to the U.S. Commerce Department.
Congress should pass the bill to overturn the outdated Supreme Court ruling.
The bill is fair because it eliminates a big competitive advantage enjoyed by out-of-state Internet sellers over in-state retailers, who must charge sales tax. Its passage would improve the vitality of local businesses and significantly increase state and local revenues.
For example, a study by the University of Tennessee cited by the National Conference of State Legislatures calculated that states lost $23.3 billion in uncollected sales taxes from Internet sales in 2012. South Carolina's share was $254.3 million.
A study of this issue by economists at Stanford University found, unsurprisingly, that consumer choices are significantly influenced by changes in tax rates.
If the Senate bill becomes law, consumers who can no longer escape state sales taxes when buying big-ticket items such as appliances and televisions might turn to local suppliers instead of big Internet sellers. ..
The bill before the Senate exempts businesses with annual sales of $1 million or less from having to comply with state taxes on Internet sales. Businesses subject to the taxes would be notified by each state of their tax obligations and would send collections to a single state agency. States must provide free tax software to vendors to simplify their reporting and tax return.
That's fair, and practical. This bill should become law.