Laird is of course 100% pro-life. We are likely on the cusp of the erroneous Roe v. Wade U.S. Supreme Court decision being overturned. Regardless, our focus in the general assembly in Columbia should be to pivot to more robust pro-life legislation.
SHRINK STATE GOVERNMENT
The state government has grown too large and expensive, it is trying to do too much that is beyond its legitimate responsibility or competence.
NO HEALTH MANDATES
Freedom of choice over the sovereignty of our bodies is an inherent human right that NO government or employer should ever infringe upon.
The freedom to make your own informed health choices be it a vaccine, to wear a mask or not, to use any natural health treatment, an off-label treatment for COVID or another condition with inexpensive repurposed drugs, or no treatment at all, should be a personal choice between patient and doctor. These kinds of choices should never be dictated by the State, the Federal government, Big Pharma, the CDC, the FDA, DHEC, insurance companies, the school system or any employer in the State of South Carolina.
I will promote legislation to protect our jobs, businesses, schools, and places of worship from federal, state, and employer mandates stemming from any declared pandemic.
We must make pre-emptive strikes through legislation against vaccine passports, trackers, and quarantines of the healthy. DHEC has arrogated to itself far too much power; that agency needs to be restructured. We must draw a line in the sand and never give up our individual freedom and liberty whatever the purported justification.
Political parties are private clubs. These clubs hold primaries as a selection process so that the nominee who best represents the members’ values becomes the candidate in a general election. Only the members of said club should have a vote in the selection of the candidates they offer for elective office. Our present system of open primaries permits non-party members to participate in our selection process. The result of this has been the party’s opposition working to select what they view as the weakest candidates. Far too many supposed Republicans holding office in South Carolina are selected by Democrats voting in our primaries or at the very least, diluting the votes of our legitimate party members. Despite having large Republican majorities in both chambers of the General Assembly, South Carolina is widely known as the most liberal of the red states, and the actions of our legislature consistently prove this. This is a very conservative state, but the legislature does not reflect this. Open primaries are a significant factor in our struggle to implement a truly conservative agenda.
We need to close our primaries so that only those who share our conservative values will have a voice in selecting our candidates.
Like several other states, South Carolina should abolish its Income tax.
Our state Income tax rate is the highest in the South and is a great deterrent to attracting business, employees and progress to our state. Without economic growth, we stagnate. We need to be able to attract businesses to South Carolina to provide good paying jobs and keep South Carolina competitive and growing. Businesses will come if we provide a welcoming environment in terms of the tax climate and the regulatory burden. Cash, tax breaks and other special incentives will not be necessary if we simply provide a business-friendly environment.
South Carolina’s total tax burden is reportedly the highest in the Southeast. This includes not only income taxes but also sales taxes, property taxes, gasoline taxes, special-purpose local taxes and various governmental fees. The state government is responsible for much, but not all, of that. Our income tax system needs massive reform either by a total repeal or with massively reduced rates. The sales tax also needs massive reform. We should eliminate most of the exemptions which now infest the sales tax code. At present over half of all transactions are exempt from sales taxes; there is no justification for that. With one change the sales tax rate could be cut in half without affecting total state revenues.
That one change could support the abolition of the income tax. States such as Florida and Texas have no income tax, and their state governments are supported entirely by sales taxes and fees. We should follow their approach and learn from their example.
Lowering tax rates is not only fair to everyone, but attracts business and creates wealth for all.
At present, all of the state’s judges are “elected” by the General Assembly, with no input from the Governor or the public. Many of our legislators are lawyers who practice before these same judges, so the process is rife with corruption and cronyism, and creates an obvious conflict of interest and poses ethical dilemmas for the judges. Responsibility for the appointment (or re-appointment) of incompetent or corrupt judges is diffused, so no one person can be held responsible for a poor selection. I will push for a constitutional amendment to make our judicial selection process similar to the federal one, with judges nominated by the Governor and subject to confirmation by the Senate.
I will promote legislation to protect concealed handguns, ammunition, and accessories and to declare South Carolina a 2nd Amendment Sanctuary State, with Constitutional Carry, and concealed carry reciprocity with other states. Any federal interference with that right must be strongly resisted by the state government. Check out my rating from the NRA:
The state needs to provide Tax credits or vouchers which follow the student, and permit parents to opt out of the failing public school system and choose private schools or home schooling for their children.
Our schools should be teaching real history, not racist fabrications such as critical race theory. The curriculum in each classroom should be open and accessible to all parents.
Our public high schools and state-supported colleges and universities should be required to provide instruction on the nation’s founding documents, and the state’s history, as a graduation requirement.
Faith in our elections is the great strength of our Republic. Without it, we are lost. One person, one vote; that is the law. At the same time, every ballot cast by someone who is ineligible dilutes the vote of a legitimate voter. Illegal voting is every bit as much a violation of voting rights as is actually barring people from voting.
I will push for standards of conduct for our election officials to guard against corruption and improve election integrity.
I will promote legislation to protect this most precious of our rights with mandatory voter ID, establishing stronger anticorruption standards for our election officials, and uniform election practices across the state. Also, I will support a prohibition on private financing of election offices (as happened in 2020), and more limitations on absentee and early voting. We need a return to “election day”, in which almost all ballots are cast (and counted) on that one day.
SMALL BUSINESS PROTECTION
Small businesses are the lifeblood of our economy; they employ 44% of the state’s workers. State laws should be revised to encourage the formation and success of small businesses. This can include simplifying and standardizing licenses, reducing taxes, introducing tort reform, rationalizing regulations, and better management of the unemployment insurance system and eliminating unnecessary occupational licenses.
END CIVIL ASSET FORFEITURE
Civil asset forfeiture is a legal process which authorizes the seizure and eventual forfeiture of property which may have been involved with criminal activity. Arising out of ancient admiralty rules, and later applied to combatting drug trafficking and organized crime, in recent years the scope of civil asset forfeiture laws has greatly expanded. What was once a simple crime-fighting tool has evolved into a substantial revenue source for law enforcement agencies.
Today’s expansive forfeiture laws, rather than divesting drug kingpins and massive criminal enterprises of their illicit gains as was its original purpose, instead allow for - and even incentivize - the seizure of property, especially currency, from ordinary Americans based on little or no evidence of actual criminality. This is done without the due process protections most Americans view as their right, and frequently occurs without any criminal charge even being filed, let alone a conviction obtained. Many states have now begun to scale back their civil forfeiture laws. These states have come to recognize that not only are such laws running roughshod over our constitutional protections and property rights, but that the process is largely unregulated and unsupervised.
Under current state law, in order to seize property a law enforcement agency need only show “probable cause”, the same low standard needed to obtain a simple search warrant. There is no requirement that the property owner be convicted, or even charged, with a crime. But in order to regain seized property, an owner must show by “a preponderance of the evidence” that the forfeiture was improper, which is a much more difficult legal standard to meet than that applied to the forfeiture itself. Innocent owners must bear the burden of proving that they did not consent to the illegal use of their property, and there is no provision by which they may recover their costs should they ultimately prevail. By calling the forfeiture process “civil”, rather than “criminal”, the government is able to evade the constitutional protections we enjoy in criminal cases.
The time has come for South Carolina to follow the lead of many other states. Bills have been proposed in the last few legislative sessions which would do precisely that. I will propose and support such legislation.
LIMIT GOVERNOR'S EMERGENCY POWER
In any future pandemic (which is certain to come) we cannot permit a repeat of the diktats issued by Governor McMaster during the last one. Although he claims that he never closed down the state, in reality, he ordered the closure of schools and restaurants, prohibited public gatherings of greater than 50 people, closed beaches and boat ramps, and issued a seemingly never-ending series of Declarations of Emergency which extended well over a year, despite a state law which was supposed to limit his emergency declarations to 15 days without the express consent of the General Assembly.
There can be a legitimate need for emergency declarations, (as in the case of hurricanes, floods, and other natural disasters), civil disturbances such as riots, and in the correct circumstance a true public health emergency, but an “emergency” which extends beyond 15 days has ceased to be an emergency and has become merely a problem to be dealt with in a thoughtful, rational, legal manner. Such a problem cannot be subject to the whims (however well-intentioned) of one public official; it demands the involvement of the entire legislature as the voice of the people; that is their job. The governor does not, and should not, possess such power.
Last year a series of bills were introduced in the General Assembly to limit the governor’s emergency powers, but only one (H.3443) received any attention at all (and unfortunately it passed the House) and that bill actually makes matters worse. It extends the 15-day limit on emergency declarations to 30 days, and provides that the declaration becomes permanent unless the legislature decides to intervene; if the legislature fails to do so the emergency declaration remains in effect until the Governor rescinds it. Emergency declarations must expire automatically after the passage of s reasonably short period of time. Bill H.3443 is now sitting in the Senate Judiciary Committee, where it should be allowed to die (or it should be voted down by the full Senate).
I will introduce legislation to treat different types of emergencies (natural disasters; health emergencies such as pandemics; and civil disturbances) differently, with separate rules for dealing with each.
MAKE S.C. A BILL OF RIGHTS SANCTUARY STATE
I have authored and provided a bill to several lawmakers in Columbia which makes South Carolina a Bill of Rights Sanctuary State. This bill is currently making its way through the legislature. An important (but sadly neglected) role of the state government is to shield its citizens from unconstitutional overreach by the federal government. This overreach can take the form of interference with our 2nd amendment right to keep and bear arms, or with our 1st Amendment rights of free speech and freedom of worship and assembly, and our privacy rights through government intercepting and archiving social media posts and telephone conversations (all of which it is now doing). The state should take an active role in pushing back against any sort of federal overreach, whether or not that overreach is sanctioned by the courts. Our state has the fundamental right, as a sovereign member of the federal system, to determine for itself the proper limits of federal authority. That is why we have the 10th Amendment.
Big Tech, Big Pharma, mainstream media, and the globalists have conspired with the Democrats to stifle, demoralize and erase conservative voices in this great country. That cannot be permitted to continue without aggressive state pushback.
This cannot be tolerated. Legislation must be passed that stops these evil entities from stealing our rights and freedoms through propaganda, rewriting history, censorship, and silencing conservative voices.
I will seek out and promote innovative ways to prevent Big Tech from stifling our voices on social media, the internet, and over the public airways. The ability to express our opinions, ideas, and protests without fear of reprisal is what our forefathers fought and died for. We must not bow down now and be silent in the face of these depredations.
PROTECT WOMEN'S SPORTS
Nationally, the incursion of biological males into women’s sports has become endemic. Some of them claim to “identify” as females, and some of them take hormone blockers but still have male physiques. This is unfair to girls and young women who have worked hard to excel in their sports, and threatens to eliminate women’s sports entirely. Certainly it undermines the basic purpose of Title IX, and could result in the loss of scholarships for deserving girls.
PROPERTY TAX REFORM
Our system of taxing property based upon its assessed value is driving up taxes and forcing people on fixed incomes out of their homes.
This is a tremendous disservice to the men and women who have worked their whole lives and supported this State with their tax dollars. The prospect of elderly South Carolinians losing their homes to taxes in their retirement years is blatantly unfair and needs to be addressed.
Property taxes are an important and necessary component of the finances of our counties, cities, schools districts, and special purpose (fire and sewer) districts. However, increasing property values have driven up taxes, and the specter of elderly, retired persons losing their homes to tax sales is distressing. Some propose entirely eliminating property taxes on persons older than 65, but I think that would be a mistake. I will propose that tax sales on the primary residence of our elderly citizens be held in abeyance during the remainder of their lives, and that the property taxes accrue (together with interest at a statutory rate) until they move or die, and the taxes become due and payable upon sale or death, and are a statutory debt of the estate.
There are many other issues facing our state which demand attention from the General Assembly. These include:
Ethics Reform: Ethics rules, and their enforcement mechanism, should apply to all public officials, including members of the General Assembly.
Recall: Public officials at all levels who are not performing well should be subject to recall by the electorate, upon petition and public referendum. This will likely require a constitutional amendment.
DHEC: Restructure it, to separate environmental issues from health issues
Term Limits: Elective office should be a public service, not a career. All elected positions in South Carolina (at all levels) should be limited in time.