South Carolina Editorial Summary: Saturday, May 14, 2022
It’s all so tiring but it doesn’t have to be
We are tired.
We are tired of asking questions. We are tired of getting few answers. We are tired of being told that all is well, corrective action has been taken while being dodged as we search for evidence pointing in that direction.
We are tired of attempts to portray this newspaper as being on a singular witch hunt to harm the South Carolina Governor’s School for Agriculture at John de la Howe when in fact we are trying exhaustively to ensure that state policies and procedures are followed, that taxpayers’ money is properly spent and accounted for, that cronyism and favoritism do not or no longer exist in the operation of the school. In short, we fulfill our role as government watchdog on behalf of state taxpayers.
Truly, much of the ink and newsprint that has gone into stories about de la Howe could have been greatly reduced if its president, Tim Keown, and other key officers associated with campus had fielded questions rather plain and simple and provided support. documents.
We are tired, and we know that Keown and others at the Howe are too. But we, they, and the taxpayers might have peace of mind if transparency figured prominently in the school’s code and mission.
Times and Democrat
Welcome measures to protect horseshoe crabs
April ended on a high note for those concerned about the health of South Carolina’s horseshoe crab population – and also the viability of the endangered red knot shorebirds that rely on it. crab eggs for food during their annual migration along our coast. But we still need more action from the state to address all of our related concerns.
First, SC’s Department of Natural Resources decided not to issue a special permit to harvest horseshoe crabs from part of the ACE Basin, pristine coastal habitat south of Charleston – a decision that should never have been questioned. but unfortunately it was. A few days later, the US Fish and Wildlife Service announced that it would not allow Charles River Labs contractors to collect horseshoe crabs from the Cape Romain National Wildlife Refuge, another pristine habitat just north of Mount Pleasant. .
This latest move was particularly welcome as the protection of shorebirds is one of the main reasons the wildlife refuge was established here in the first place. Two environmental groups had sued the Fish and Wildlife Service when it allowed fishermen to collect crabs there; a judge temporarily halted the practice, and federal officials eventually decided to require permits for crab harvesting, ending the lawsuit. Most recently, the agency concluded that issuing such a permit would not be appropriate.
While state and federal actions have been laudable and prudent, the state still needs to do more to steer our wildlife regulators away from Charles River Labs, a pharmaceutical and animal breeding company that pays contractors to harvest crabs. . The company is bleeding crabs for a lucrative ingredient in an extract that can detect deadly toxins in vaccines and medical equipment. The main problem with this is that the state agency that regulates the company has no definitive data on whether the crab fishery has fallen below a sustainable level. Although bled crabs are returned to the ocean, their survival rates are unclear and the Department of Natural Resources does not even release information on the number of horseshoe crabs caught.
The other big problem is that the DNR has an apparent conflict. Charles River Labs also leases Monkey Island from the agency, and its $1.5 million annual lease payments provide the agency with revenue to hire about 30 employees, creating at least the appearance of a conflict. of interest – a conflict detailed in detail in The Post and Courier’s uncovered project, “Monkeys and Blood”.
State Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Isle of Palms, has introduced a bill that would require the DNR to release information about horseshoe crabs and other species, and though it’s too late for that S.1246 is passed this year, Campsen and other lawmakers should explore other ways to ask MNR to compile and share more information.
We also need further action to resolve the dispute between MNR and Charles River arising from the Monkey Island lease. The agency should not be dependent on a private company for a significant portion of its operating income if it is also responsible for regulating a separate aspect of that company’s work.
As noted earlier, crab fishing along the Atlantic and Gulf coasts has increased 63% since 2004, and crab populations are declining off some northeastern states. The horseshoe crab harvest here has more than doubled since 2004, but only until we have better data on the health of horseshoe crabs in state waters will we we can form an informed opinion on whether the state is doing enough to protect them.
Post and courier
It’s already too easy to get kids addicted to vaping. Bill would make things worse.
Over the weekend, a coalition of public health groups ran full-page ads in The Post and Courier and other SC newspapers warning of an attempt by the state Senate to deprive cities and counties of their right to do a job that the Legislative Assembly refuses to do: regulating the efforts of tobacco companies to make teenagers addicted to drugs.
The American Cancer Society, Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, and American Lung and Heart groups fear the Senate will use the confusion of the final days of the legislative session to pass H.3681, which would ban local governments from regulating cigarettes , vape, or other tobacco flavors or ingredients, and prevent those governments from requiring local licenses to sell tobacco products.
At first glance, the bill seems long dead. Although the House passed it in 2021 and the Senate pulled it from committee without even a public hearing, it has been stuck on the disputed Senate schedule for more than a year. This is normally a sure sign of a bill going nowhere without a compromise to which all parties adhere. Normally, but not always.
Public health officials fear the bill could suddenly be resurrected and passed into law this week. It might sound paranoid, but it’s actually quite common for lawmakers to wait until the end of the session to try to pass legislation they know the public would oppose. Activists say they hear too much buzz about H.3681 to ignore. (And yes, we realize it’s popular for special interest groups to pretend to be attacked when they really aren’t for the purpose of raising money, but tobacco advocates aren’t trying to raise money. funds; they have been in the Statehouse furiously working the Senate to prevent the legislation from being brought back to life.)
So while we hope that any effort to push legislation through Governor Henry McMaster’s desk will fail – and if not he will veto it – it is worth taking the time to explain what H.3681 is.
His supporters say they want to make sure tobacco laws are uniform across the state, but in fact they have fought efforts to have a uniform statewide law that would help make enforce the law that prohibits the use of tobacco by minors. H.3754 would treat tobacco sales more like alcohol sales, requiring companies to obtain a license to sell the products – and allowing the state to revoke those licenses if they fail to guard against selling tobacco to consumers. minors. This is important because, according to the American Heart Association, three quarters of children who try to buy tobacco products are successful.
Tobacco companies have kept the tobacco licensing bill locked up in subcommittee for two years because uniform tobacco laws are not their goal. Their goal is to ensure that nothing is done in South Carolina to reduce sales of tobacco products – even products that are deliberately manipulated to entice children into using them.
South Carolina has one of the highest rates of teenage nicotine use in the country, and vaping has led to an increase in youth tobacco use nationwide. The CDC says nearly all high school students who use tobacco products use flavored products, which is why some local governments want to ban the sale of these products.
The vaping preemption bill is also the latest in a long line of bills aimed at stripping elected members of city and county councils from the right to govern their communities. Such bills start with a nudge at the Statehouse, regardless of the underlying topic, because too many lawmakers think they know more about what should be happening in local communities than the people elected to govern these communities.
Either the assault on local governments or the assault on public health would be reason enough to let this legislation die when the Legislative Assembly adjourns on Thursday. The combination of the two makes it almost criminal for anyone to seriously consider pushing him into the law.