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YC Magazine, Libertarian Commentary, November 2011

Libertarians give Norman a “D”

In the 2010 General Election, Libertarian Stan Smith earned 20% of the vote for the SC House District 48 race against Republican incumbent Ralph Norman. Though Norman won the race, let’s pretend the majority of voters wanted small government. It’s true that Nikki Haley recently graded Norman with an “A” and the SC Club for Growth called Norman a “Taxpayer Hero” in 2009, but rhetoric can be a bit misleading. “Conservative” does not mean fair or free.

In this article, we’ll examine how Norman voted as compared with how a Libertarian would likely vote. For brevity, I took the SC Policy Council’s “Best and Worst of 2011” report and looked uphow Norman voted on each of the important bills that the report focuses on. Some of the bills are still pending, and we did not count those as Normanhasn’t had an opportunity to vote on them yet.

York Libertarians usually agree withthe SC Policy Council on issues. For each paragraph lead below, I’ll use the description of the bill from their “Best and Worst” list.

Pretending to Cap Spending (H 3368) -Norman voted Yea on earlier amendments, but did not vote either way for thefinal version. Republicans will always claim to cut taxes and reduce the sizeof government by tying spending to increases in population and inflation, which is still an increase so matter how you slice it. I can understand an increasebased on population numbers but not one based on inflation. If inflation wereto suddenly skyrocket, and the spending “cap” would increase exponentially. I would vote “No” in favor of a cap based only on population growth. This bill passed the House and has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

Prohibiting Fee/Fine Increases (H3051) -Norman voted Yea on this, and I’m glad. This bill would requireall fee increases by state agencies to be authorized by the State Legislature. This bill has passed in the House and referred to the Senate Finance Committee.

Bailout Masquerading as a “TaxCut” (H 3762)-Norman voted yea, which I disagree with. This bill keeps unemployment taxes low for big companies who have had a higher number of layoffs and thus more usage of unemployment funds. Big companies should not get special favors from the SC State Legislature. This bill was signed into law by the governor.

Tort Reform (H3375)-Norman voted Yea, which seems a good choice. According to the SC Policy Council, SC is the “12th worst in the nation [for lawsuits] according to a U.S. Chamber of Commerce survey.” Up to a certain point, justice is not served if everyone is afraid to do anything because they may get sued. Furthermore, runaway damage awards drive up the cost of healthcare for everyone. This bill allows a reasonable damagecap of 500,000 except in cases of extreme negligence. This bill was signed into law by the governor.

Subsidizing High-Risk Startups (H3779)-Norman voted nay, and I agree with his vote. This bill would put taxpayers on the hook for the failure of an unproven company. This bill has been passed by the House and referred to the Senate Finance Committee. Please encourage your state senator to vote Nay next session.

Handing Out Property Deals (H 3688)-Norman voted nay, which is a good thing. This bill gives special tax credits to developers to make property improvements on state property that has not been used for at least a year.

Picking Winners & Losers Insteadof Cutting Taxes (H 3720)-Norman voted Yea, which I disagree with. Special treatment of some corporations is not fair to small businesses. This bill passed the House and has been referred to Senate Finance Committee. Please encourage your state senator to vote Nay next session.

Creating Education Tax Credits forAt-Risk Children (H 3407)-Norman voted Nay, which is a disservice to freedom. This would have been an OK start to giving the poor more school choice. Anything other than the current school monopoly will increase competition and promote excellence. This bill failed by one vote in the House.

Giving School Districts More Discretion in Paying Teachers (H 3716)-Norman voted Yea, and I would also. Thisbill passed the house and has been referred to the Senate Finance Committee.Please encourage your state senator to vote yea next session.

Recording Every Vote (H 3004)-Norman voted Yea, and Libertarians wholeheartedly agree. Transparency in government is very important. This has been signed into law by the governor.

Restructuring the Executive Branch (H3066)-Norman voted against initial amendments, yea on final bill. This bill along with the following restructuring bills seem like a good idea based on the recommendation from the SC Policy Council. For grading purposes, we’ll give Norman ten points for all of these. This bill passed the house and was amended on second reading in Senate.

Putting the Governor and Lieutenant Governor on the same ticket (H 3152)- Norman voted Yea. This bill has passed the House; and has a favorable majority report from the Senate Judiciary subcommittee.

Governor Appoints Superintendent of Education (H 3070)-Norman voted yea. Passed House; favorable majority report from Senate Judiciary subcommittee.

Based on a scale of 1 to 100, Ralph Norman gets a score of 63.6% by the Libertarian Party of York County on recorded votes for the SCPolicy Council’s “Best and Worst of 2011.” While this may not offer a full picture of his entire voting record, it shows that he is willing to create unfair tax breaks to big business and deny school choice to at-risk children. It is unfortunate that most of the legislation proposed only buries people in bureaucratic red tape and assumes government has a legitimate reason for being involved in everything. We do applaud those who voted yea on transparency, but voters have a right to know what is going on. Please tell your house members how you feel about their votes, and how you’d like them to vote in January.

Jen is the chair of the York County Libertarian Party. For more information, go to: http://www.yclp.org

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