The (Charleston) Post and Courier on government restructuring bill, June 4:

Opponents of government restructuring didn't break a sweat several weeks ago when a proposed new Department of Administration got a key Senate Judiciary Committee nod. They knew the Senate rules and the adjournment clock were on their side. Now, regrettably, one more session is coming to a close without lawmakers giving the next governor the tools he needs to run a more accountable government.

Unfortunately, there still are enough diehards in the Senate to keep the governor's hands tied in the administrative areas where he should have control.

Instead, they want to keep most of those functions under an entity unique to South Carolina known as the Budget and Control Board. ...

There is some consolation in the fact that this restructuring effort got further along in the Senate this session than in previous years. It's even possible that a majority would have approved the House bill had they been given the chance to bring it to a vote.

There is now legislation in place that House members overwhelmingly approve. It should be revived there early in the next session and sent back to the Senate in plenty of time to outlast the naysayers.

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The Greenville News on immigration bill, June 4:

South Carolina finally has a state immigration bill that, despite being imperfect, will help make this state less attractive to illegal workers and those who employ them. ...

The bill creates penalties for employers who don't abide by the verification rules, although it allows a 72-hour grace period on the first offense during which employers can abide by the rules and avoid a fine of up to $1,000.

Further, the bill creates a statewide "employer license" that can be suspended on the first two offenses or revoked on a third offense if an employer knowingly hires illegal immigrants.

This is a vast improvement over previous attempts to pass legislation that would have allowed huge loopholes for some business owners. ...

Stopping illegal immigration still is largely a federal issue. Congress has shown little will to pass a meaningful immigration bill, and such comprehensive reform is just what the nation needs. It shouldn't be up to the states to find ways to enforce laws that are the federal government's responsibility. Lawmakers in Washington need to pass a bill that seals the borders, deals with employers who hire illegal immigrants and creates a limited path to citizenship for the estimated 13 million illegal immigrants already here.

In the meantime, South Carolina has rightly joined a growing list of states that have passed laws to handle the issue on their own. This is a good bill that addresses this issue in a meaningful way.

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The (Rock Hill) Herald on prison funding, May 30:

Officers at the Lee Correctional Institution in Columbia eventually were able to quell a disturbance in which inmates overpowered guards on duty. But, with too few guards and shortages throughout the state's prison system, the next uprising might be more serious.

When several inmates refused to return to their cells at the maximum-security prison recently, guards fired tear gas into the unit and sealed it off. It then took more than two hours to round up enough personnel to re-enter the area and subdue the inmates.

Corrections Department director Jon Ozmint said that with an adequate number of guards, order could have been restored in 15 to 20 minutes.

South Carolina spends less to keep its prisoners locked up than any other state. ...

Shortchanging the Corrections Department is an invitation to trouble. South Carolinians shouldn't be surprised at the next big prison escape or hostage taking that occurs because of security lapses or lack of guards.

The prison system is an integral part law enforcement in the state. While no one is advocating country clubs for inmates, prisons must have the money to house prisoners humanely and hold them securely so they can't endanger other inmates, prison employees or civilians.

South Carolina already has the cheapest prison system in the nation. Without proper funding, it soon could also have the worst.

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(Spartanburg) Herald Journal on nuclear energy, May 29:

Environmentalists can be expected to protest two S.C. utilities' just announced plans for the expansion of nuclear power in the Midlands, but this wall of opposition needs to recognize the advantages of nuclear energy — the environmental advantages in particular.

As they did in their rush to object to Duke Energy Corp.'s plan for construction of a nuclear power plant in Cherokee County, environmental groups will question costs to ratepayers and the safety of nuclear reactors. One environmental group, Friends of the Earth, already is questioning plans to build two reactors at their jointly operated V.C. Summer Plant. Friends of the Earth questions the expense and says "promoting energy conservation and efficiency would be a much better way to spend the money."

Never mind the environmental advantage of nuclear power plants, their lengthy safety record that has improved over time with better technology and the costs of alternatives, especially to the environment.

Nuclear power production does not contribute to the greenhouse effect, one of few methods of generating electricity that doesn't. Saying no to coal-fired plants and those fueled by oil and gas because they contribute to global warming and climate change makes sense, but it makes better sense to say yes to the wise use of nuclear energy.

Opposition to expansion of the nuclear power industry would be a mistake. A true environmentalist should not oppose the clean, well-managed and safe production of nuclear energy, the expansion of which comes at the right time in South Carolina.

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