Ten states have approved a constitutional right to hunt -- the first being Vermont in 1777. South Carolina should join that group with a "Yes" vote on constitutional Amendment 1 on Nov. 2. The amendment also would grant the same protected status to fishing.
A spokesman for a leading animal rights organization has described the amendment, also to be voted on in Tennessee and Arkansas, as "a solution in search of a problem."
Tell that to hunters in Michigan, where a hotly contested referendum ended dove hunting in 2005.
Hunting and fishing advocates in South Carolina believe that similar efforts could be possible here as the state becomes increasingly urban and residents lose touch with traditional outdoor pursuits.
Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, who sponsored the proposal, says it was crafted to give lawmakers and the state Department of Natural Resources the leeway to manage wildlife for its protection. The laws against trespass would not be abridged by its passage. DNR supports the amendment, which was endorsed with bipartisan support in the Legislature. Voters should approve it, too.
Voters should also approve Amendment 2 to "guarantee the right of an individual to vote by secret ballot for a designation, a selection, or an authorization for employee representation by a labor organization."
One obvious reason to vote "Yes" on Amendment 2: Prominent congressional Democrats and the Obama administration have been pushing legislation to eliminate secret ballots on union elections. Our state's voters should assert their opposition to that proposed violation of a basic individual right.
Another obvious reason: The presence of a largely union-free workforce in our state has been a valuable asset in attracting businesses -- and jobs. Organized-labor officials clearly believe depriving workers of the secret ballot on union affiliation tends to boost their ranks.
If that happens in South Carolina, it would undermine an advantage we have long enjoyed in the national and global competition for economic development. That would be a particularly foolish move during this stubborn downturn.
But regardless of political machinations or economic conditions, the most important reason to vote "Yes" on Amendment 2 is to protect workers from potential pressure over their choices for or against organized labor.
Eligible voters in South Carolina will vote on Nov. 2 by secret ballot in various political races -- and on constitutional questions like this one. That same right should extend to their decisions on union membership.
Voters should approve Amendment 3 "to increase from three to five percent in increments of one-half of one percent over four fiscal years the amount of state general fund revenue in the latest completed fiscal year required to be held in the General Reserve Fund."
Voters also should approve a related referendum question, Amendment 4, "to provide that monies from the Capital Reserve Fund first must be used, to the extent necessary, to fully replenish the applicable percentage amount in the General Reserve Fund."
Less formally known as "The Rainy Day Fund," the General Reserve Fund was created to help the state withstand inevitable fluctuations in tax and fee revenues. The need for that fund to be maintained at a higher rate has been painfully apparent during the current economic slump, with abrupt shortfalls forcing difficult budget cuts.
Amendments 3 and 4, if passed, would put South Carolina in a stronger position to weather such fiscal storms in the future, and would bolster the state's case for the highest bond rating, which saves millions in interests costs when the state borrows for capital and infrastructure projects.
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