South Carolina House of Representatives
David H. Wilkins, Speaker of the House
OFFICE OF RESEARCH
Room 309, Blatt Building, P.O. Box 11867, Columbia, S.C. 29211, (803) 734-3230
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30. CONSUMER FINANCE
A continuing challenge for the General Assembly will be to address the problems associated with the deregulation of the consumer finance industry during the 1980's. Since Act 135 of 1995 (S. 602) requires continuing review of the industry, as well as the development of informational materials by the Department of Consumer Affairs, legislators will be keeping a close watch over this area.
Passage of S.602 during the 1995 Session reflected the General Assembly's continuing commitment to the South Carolina consumer. The Act requires that a legislative committee study and report the impact of this legislation to General Assembly. This study will enable the members to address the pressing needs in the consumer finance industry. Areas to watch include increased regulation of check cashing businesses, credit repair agencies, and businesses who offer credit to the young consumer.
31. FISH, GAME, AND WATERCRAFT LAWS
Many of South Carolina's fish, game and watercraft laws (found in Title 50 of the Code of Laws) are seen as outdated, and in some cases, onerous. For example, the division of the State into 11 game zones, each with their own laws on when and where various outdoor activities can be performed, create much confusion among residents who enjoy these activities. Furthermore, there is no biological reason why the State should be divided into that many game zones. Legislation will be introduced next year to reduce the number of game zones and to make our wildlife laws more concise and understandable.
32. ADULT EDUCATION (TIED IN RANKING WITH HERITAGE TRUST PROPERTY ACQUISITION LIMITS)
After a comprehensive survey of programmatic and fiscal delivery systems for adult literacy training, adult basic education, adult vocational education, and other adult educational services in the state, the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education, as part of its duties as the State Occupational Training Advisory Committee, is recommending that all adult education services be assigned to the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education and the 16 technical colleges under its jurisdiction.
The S.C. Commission on Higher Education hired a consultant to assist in designing a survey to solicit information from the State Department of Education, the Department of Social Services, the Employment Security Commission, the Department of Vocational Rehabilitation, and the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education. It is the opinion of the commission, based on the information assimilated through the survey, that the delivery systems for adult education are fragmented, largely uncoordinated, and confusing to the adult clientele. The commission believes that a dramatic restructuring of the state's efforts in adult education is imperative, placing the responsibility for all adult education in one delivery system.
Specific recommendations center around the following: (1) retain the responsibility within the public school system to deliver educational programs to those citizens who have not exceeded the legal age for attending public schools, (2) repeal the section of the S.C. Code of Laws that allows persons over 21 years of age to attend public schools at night, (3) transfer all personnel and all sources of funding for adult literacy, adult basic education, and adult high school completion to the State Board for Technical and Comprehensive Education, and (4) increase per student funding for adult education to improve and extend education and training for adults (based on the findings of the 1991 study conducted by MGT of America, Inc. for the Joint Legislative Committee).
At a recent public hearing, adult educators expressed frustration with the current delivery system. While they did not endorse the commission's plan, they did see this proposal as a means for creating needed dialogue. There was considerable discussion about the lack of funding support. Opponents of the plan believe that removing adult education from the State Department of Education will sever the ties established in the Early Childhood and Academic Assistance Act of 1993 (Act 135) dealing with parenting and family literacy. It will also require either the elimination of the High School Completion Program or a change in statute granting the technical and comprehensive education system the power to grant high school diplomas. There is also a concern that the technical and comprehensive education system will not be able to supplement adult education funding in the same manner school districts are currently supplementing adult education. (The MGT survey indicated that districts are contributing approximately 28 percent of the instructional costs of adult education through local revenues.)
A committee composed of representatives from the affected agencies and professional associations is being organized to work together to resolve any issues and to incorporate solutions into proposed legislation for the 1996 session.
HERITAGE TRUST PROPERTY ACQUISITION LIMITS
In 1976, the General Assembly passed an act establishing the Heritage Trust Program, under which the State, for preservation purposes, may purchase up to 100,000 acres of land that is deemed to be of especially outstanding and unique natural or cultural character. Legislation was introduced this past March (H. 3872) which would limit the number of acres of total property which may be purchased under this program in any 1 county to 20,000 acres. That bill currently is pending in the House Agriculture, Natural Resources and Environmental Affairs Committee.
With South Carolina's two neighboring states---Georgia and North Carolina---having, respectfully, adopted and considered a state lottery, the issue of a proposed lottery in South Carolina generated much attention and debate during the 1995 legislative session and may do so again in 1996.
Early in the 1995 session, Representative Scott introduced a joint resolution, H. 3772, to amend South Carolina's Constitution so as to authorize a state lottery. As originally introduced, H. 3772 provided that a maximum of 15 percent of lottery revenues each year would be expended for the lottery's operational expenses, with 50 percent of revenues expended for prizes and remaining revenues spent on nonrecurring expenses for public education (including public higher education), health care, water and sewer infrastructure, other capital improvements, reduction of bonded indebtedness, or for any combination of those purposes as provided by law by the General Assembly.
In May, the House voted to recall the joint resolution from the Judiciary Committee, and late that month amended the joint resolution to require the net proceeds remaining after lottery operational costs and the awarding of prizes to be spent on residential property tax relief and assisting the elderly in purchasing prescription medication. While H. 3772 received second reading by a vote of 64-43 in the closing days of the session, the proposal was 19 votes short of the 83 affirmative votes required in the House to pass constitutional amendments. The third reading of this joint resolution has been delayed until the 1996 session.
Proponents of the lottery claim that it could help fund programs which currently are underfunded. (A study conducted by the State Board of Economic Advisors a few years ago indicated that South Carolina could collect approximately $60 million annually if the lottery were fully operational.) Proponents also point to the apparently large number of South Carolinians traveling to Georgia to buy lottery tickets, thereby taking revenue out of South Carolina, and frame the lottery question in a libertarian mode, i.e., government should allow people to decide how to spend their own money, even if people may not always spend their money wisely. Lottery supporters also claim that most South Carolinians want a lottery, judging by the fact that 34 of the state's 46 counties voted in 1994 to continue video poker payoffs. Lottery opponents, however, claim that lottery revenues are unreliable, would only constitute a relatively small amount of money when compared to overall state spending, and warn that a lottery would hurt the work ethic by encouraging a "something for nothing" attitude---the idea that one will get rich by playing the lottery, even though the odds of winning a jackpot are very remote---and would negatively impact the poor, who could least afford to play the lottery. Opponents paint a picture of poor families spending their scarce resources---money that otherwise would go for the necessities of food and shelter---on lottery tickets.
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