HICKS COLUMN: Some in S.C. think federal laws just silly
Well, aren't we special?
The South Carolina Legislature apparently thinks so, judging by its plans for the coming year.
One lawmaker has introduced a bill to make implementation of federal health care reform in this state a crime punishable by fines and even jail time.
Another pre-filed bill would make it legal for South Carolina to ignore any and all federal gun laws. This bill may or may not be called the “We Don't Need Their Stinkin' Laws” Act of 2013.
This state has believed itself above federal law for nearly 200 years, back to the nullification crisis of the 1830s and the years leading up to our Late Unpleasantness (that's the Civil War for you Yankees).
Some folks still think South Carolina isn't subject to federal rule, despite constant reminders that it is.
But that doesn't stop opportunistic politicians from using wedge issues to pander to voters, including those who get their information from cable networks that peddle partisan views under the guise of news.
Death panels, anyone?
Great legal minds?
State Rep. Bill Chumley is behind the anti-Obamacare crusade.
He told U.S. News that he believes it is perfectly legal to take state officials who try to implement federal health care to the pokey and fine them $1,000. And any federal employees living in the state — you know, people doing their jobs — should get up to five years in prison.
“I think we're within our rights to do this,” Chumley said.
Who knew that a state legislator from Woodruff understands the U.S. Constitution better than, say, the U.S. Supreme Court?
The Supremes have routinely swatted down attempts by states to skirt federal law. But what do they know?
Chumley is not the only armchair legal scholar around here. State Sen. Lee Bright of Spartanburg says the Constitution makes it clear that the federal government has no right to stop anyone in South Carolina from keeping their own personal arsenal.
Of course, maybe he thinks folks will need all that firepower since some lawmakers are trying to start another war with the feds.
And most of us know how that worked out the last time.
All this partisan sore-loser stuff does nothing but bring bad publicity to South Carolina and jam up a Legislature that is already results-challenged.
And it's all based on baloney.
The truth is, this state is not only beholden to the federal government, it couldn't run without it. About three-quarters of the state budget is paid by federal dollars — we get back roughly $1.35 for every dollar the state sends to Washington. Which makes us, in essence, a welfare state. Chew on that, Spartanburg.
The only good news is that the vast majority of South Carolina lawmakers — Republicans and Democrats alike — know that both of these looney ideas will never fly.
They serve only one purpose: to pander to people who don't know better.
Reach Brian Hicks at email@example.com or read his blog at blog.postandcourier.com/brians-blog.