Recent editorials from South Carolina newspapers:
The Greenville News on state government restructuring:
South Carolina's state government needs to move into the 21st century, but to do that it first must move into the 20th century. That means our state must adopt the sleeker, more accountable form of government that was the model in every other state during the last century.
It is time the state Legislature get its act together, stop playing political games and pass a restructuring bill that overhauls our state's antiquated system of government. In particular though, the state Senate must stop delaying this restructuring bill, and if the entire body cannot get on board, reform-minded senators must work together — regardless of their political party — to stop the never-ending delaying tactics of powerful senators who simply do not want reform to happen.
A restructuring bill once again is moving through the state Senate. As with previous ones it will abolish that dinosaur-like creature known as the state Budget and Control Board and replace it with something more practical and reasonable known as the Department of Administration. This should have been done last year, or the year before, or the year before that. It absolutely should be done this year.
The Budget and Control Board is an innocent-sounding name for a device that squeezes executive power from the duly elected governor of South Carolina. Most governors have executive powers in other states that allow them to do what a chief executive should, and that includes overseeing administrative functions. ...
The bill now in the state Senate would fix this mess. Whether it makes it out is the chief concern. Sen. Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, chairs the Finance Committee and he is not recognized as a fan of this restructuring. Recently he prevailed in getting a good bill that had already passed the Senate Judiciary Committee sent to his Senate Finance Committee. ...
A restructuring bill almost passed last year. Weak state senators allowed the governor's nemesis, Jake Knotts, to block the final vote by running out the clock as the last minutes evaporated for the legislative session. Those senators refused to use their power to make Knotts shut up and sit down. He was the only incumbent senator defeated in the 2012 general election.
Our state deserves more responsible government. Taxpayers deserve to know who is in charge so they can hold that person accountable. Voters must make sure their senator and representative help get this bill through this year.
Aiken Standard on early voting legislation:
For years the Legislature has toyed with the idea of allowing early voting in South Carolina. Maybe the long lines during the November election will get the job done this year.
A bill outlining how early voting would be handled has made its way to the Senate Judiciary Committee. Under this plan, residents could cast ballots starting 10 days before an election. Local election officials would be required to set up at least one early voting center in each county.
Similar bills have inched their way through the Legislature in the past, but haven't made it to the finish line.
Voting should be a simple process. Certainly the process requires many checks and regulations, but the act of casting a ballot should be simple and encouraging. For many in Aiken County, it was anything but simple. There were reports of voters waiting as long as two hours to vote some precincts.
The problems in Richland County were even worse — there were reports of waits of six hours or more.
Across the state similar problems were reported.
It was enough to make fixing the problem a priority for our local delegations immediately after the Nov. 5 election.
Early voting is a simple solution and reports show it has been successful.
In Georgia, voters can begin voting three weeks before election day on the Saturday before election day. In the last election, nearly 2 million people took advantage of it. In North Carolina, which also has early voting, election officials said 60 percent of voters cast ballots early, keeping lines on election day shorter, The Associated Press reported.
It's time for the citizens of South Carolina to have the same option.
The Post and Courier of Charleston on full-body scanners:
The Federal Aviation Administration, carrying out a mandate from Congress, has ordered the removal from airports of full-body scanners that allow security officers to electronically undress airline customers. They will be replaced with machines that show only a dummy human outline and any hidden weapons.
This is a big gain for air travel privacy.
But the same privacy concerns that made the removed scanners controversial will follow them if they are used, as planned, in other government security operations.
The 250 machines in question are among those that use "backscatter" X-rays to see through clothing. Most of the other 550 FAA body scanners use a radio frequency technology called millimeter-wave and are equipped with privacy software that uses a generic body image. These newer machines require fewer operators, take up less floor space and complete scans in less time.
But there is always some drawback, it seems. The millimeter-wave machines have been found, in tests conducted in Europe and Australia, to have very high "false-positive" rates. At least one in four travelers were stopped for body searches.
So don't expect the change in scanner technology to speed the flow through airport security.
Backscatter machines are controversial not only because they can produce a near perfect nude body image that is invasive of travelers' privacy but because, in the view of some critics, they expose travelers to dangerous levels of ionized X-rays.
The FAA and many radiation authorities dismiss these safety concerns. The FAA says travelers get more exposure to radiation while in flight than they do from the backscatter scanners. Indeed, the FAA has issued contracts to install more backscatter machines provided they come equipped with privacy software.
But the 250 backscatter machines made by Rapiscan at a cost to the government of $40 million are being removed at the company's expense from airport service because the company says it cannot meet a June deadline imposed last year by Congress.
The deadline required Rapiscan to install privacy software on the already deployed machines. ...
Members of the public who must pass through these machines at their new locations will inevitably face the same privacy concerns as airline travelers.