In stunning reversal for people of SC, utilities manage to kill solar bill AFTER it passed overwhelmingly

It's like if, after the Death Star was destroyed, Darth Vader used the Force to snuff out the Rebellion anyway...

It’s like if, after the Death Star was destroyed, Darth Vader used the Force to snuff out the Rebellion anyway…

If you had any lingering sympathy for the big utilities in South Carolina, this should wipe it out:

Under pressure from the state’s major utilities, the S.C. House killed a solar bill Tuesday that was intended to protect thousands of jobs and save customers money on their monthly power bills.

The bill’s defeat, a stunning reversal from a House vote last week, brought withering criticism from many lawmakers, who said the House caved in to opposition by Duke Energy and SCE&G, derailing the legislation. Utilities have expressed concern about how competition from solar could affect them.

State Rep. James Smith, the bill’s chief sponsor, also blamed Republican Gov. Henry McMaster. Smith, a Democratic candidate for governor and potential opponent to McMaster in November’s general election, said the Republican urged some lawmakers not to vote for the bill — a point McMaster’s office hotly disputed.

“He called House Republican leadership and raked them over the coals,” Smith said he was told by fellow legislators. “It was giving me a victory. But it ain’t about me. It ain’t about Henry.”…

The solar bill died Tuesday in the House after utility boosters raised a technical point, saying passing the bill would require a two-thirds majority vote. The House voted for the legislation, 61-44, but that was short of the two-thirds required for approval….

Wow. This is bad on so many levels — particularly if our governor got involved in order to screw over his likely Democratic challenger. But even if he didn’t, this is a stunning example of bad faith, and the kind of oligarchic, anti-democratic maneuver that almost makes the anti-elite paranoia of a Bernie Sanders sound sane.

Matt Moore, the former GOP chair who has been heading up Palmetto Conservative Solar Coalition, reacted this way:

Ten-plus years? I think that’s an understatement. In my more than 30 years of covering SC politics, I haven’t seen the likes of this. You have to go back to before my time. There probably hasn’t been a case of the powers-that-be frustrating the public will to this extent since the Old Guard found a way to disqualify charismatic gubernatorial candidate Pug Ravenel on a technicality in 1974.

The will of the people, acting through their elected representatives (which is how you do it in a republic), had been clearly expressed. The best people in the General Assembly were all for it — Democrats, and both flavors of Republican (Regular and Tom Davis).

And now, the people who gave us the shaft on the nuclear fiasco have shown us what they think of that. And of us.

So… what are we going to do about it?

75 thoughts on “In stunning reversal for people of SC, utilities manage to kill solar bill AFTER it passed overwhelmingly

  1. Barry

    Not a surprise when you see the money utilities have donated to politicians. They are bought and paid for whether you like it or not.

    Reply
  2. Doug Ross

    So all the news says the “SC House” killed the bill. I didn’t realize the building had that power. Who did it? What are the names of the legislators who killed it? Why is James Smith playing politics by blaming McMaster instead of his peers? This is exactly what a James Smith governorship would look like.

    Reply
    1. Claus2

      I can tell you right now that Catherine Templeton will be the next SC governor. I don’t care for her but she’ll do a fine job running the state from Charleston.

      Reply
    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      We know you like names, Doug.

      Here you go:

      Those who voted in the negative are:
      Allison Atkinson Bannister
      Bryant Burns Chumley
      Collins Crawford Davis
      Duckworth Elliott Felder
      Forrest Forrester Fry
      Gagnon Hamilton Hardee
      Hayes Henderson Hiott
      Hixon Johnson Jordan
      Long Lowe Lucas
      Martin McCravy McGinnis
      D. C. Moss V. S. Moss B. Newton
      Pitts Putnam Sandifer
      G. R. Smith Stringer Tallon
      Thayer West White
      Whitmire Willis

      Reply
          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            The utilities and their several dozen lobbyists are.

            I don’t have the numbers in front of me, but you’ll find some of these people getting quite a bit of money from the utilities. I heard this afternoon that one of them (and I’m not going to use his name until I see confirmation) has received something like $69,000 from them.

            I don’t know whether that category includes the Speaker, but his role was critical: He’s the guy who ruled that the rules would change and they needed two-thirds. In other words, I know what he DID; I can’t tell you with certainty why….

            Reply
            1. Claus2

              Didn’t you defend the need for lobbyists recently? That they provide the expertise needed to answer questions… and grease palms?

              Reply
              1. Brad Warthen Post author

                Absolutely. But lobbyists are kind of like guns — very useful tools in the right hands, very dangerous and harmful ones in the wrong hands, and when used in the wrong cause…

                Reply
                1. Brad Warthen Post author

                  The mistake that a lot of people make is to think of lobbyists as bad, period, and I was probably explaining why that’s wrongheaded.

                  Lawmakers can’t be experts on everything, and they are almost always dependent on sources of information that know more than they do about a certain industry or policy or whatever. And often those sources are paid lobbyists — some of whom are on the right side of an issue, and some of whom are not.

                  On something like this, you had people in the solar installation industry supporting and informing the “good guys,” and an army of lobbyists representing the big utilities on the other side. The problem isn’t that they were lobbyists, the problem is that they were pushing the wrong side — something you don’t have to be a lobbyist to do.

                  Are you following me?

                  One of the things I try to do on this blog is help my readers see past the pat, overly simplistic explanations that too many buy into. And the notion that “lobbyists are always bad” is one of those oversimplifications…

                2. Richard

                  How many lobbyists aren’t biased? Do you think they’re going to badmouth the people or company that signs their paycheck? They’re there to do one thing, push their employer’s agenda.

                3. Brad Warthen Post author

                  … which is in no way consistent with the useful role they play.

                  If you’re a conscientious lawmaker, you want to know how your bill might affect Industry X, so that you don’t blunder into creating consequences you didn’t intend. (Of course, if you’re just an idiot ideologue who is trying please a base filled with idiot ideologues, you don’t care.) If there were no lobbyists, you’d have to go out and pound the pavement finding people who were experts on that industry to help you understand how thing work — something that, as a part-time lawmaker who doesn’t get paid squat, you do NOT have the time to do.

                  Since Industry X employs lobbyists, you don’t have to do that.

                  Of course, you’re another kind of idiot if you don’t know that there are probably additional truths that Industry X’s lobbyists aren’t telling you about. So you listen to other sources as well.

                  The bad thing is when those other sources aren’t accessible, when they can’t afford lobbyists to ‘splain things to you from their point of view. To the extent that it’s a bad thing for deep-pocketed interests to have lots of lobbyists, it’s that — you might not get all sides.

                  The best lobbyists, you realize, are decent, trustworthy sorts. If they’re lying scuzzballs, nobody is going to listen to them more than once….

                4. Bryan Caskey

                  “One of the things I try to do on this blog is help my readers see past the pat, overly simplistic explanations that too many buy into. And the notion that “lobbyists are always bad” is one of those oversimplifications…”

                  One of the things I try to do in my [day-to-day life] is help my [reflexively anti-gun friends] see past the pat, overly simplistic explanation [of just banning guns] that too many buy into. And the notion that [certain types of guns are bad] is one of those oversimplifications.

                  :)

                5. Bryan Caskey

                  What we need is some commonsense lobbyist control, amirite? I mean, no one needs over ten lobbyists, right? We should ban the high-capacity lobbyist groups. :)

                6. Brad Warthen Post author

                  The relationship between money spent lobbying and policy outcomes can be pretty minimal sometimes.

                  Yesterday, when I went over to the State House to try to catch people to talk about the solar thing, the South Carolina Hospital Association had a big tent set up next to the Blatt building and was feeding free lunch to lawmakers. Some were eating there; others were grabbing a plate and taking it with them to their next committee meeting.

                  What do you think that group would like most from the Legislature? Off the top of my head, I’m thinking it might be expansion of Medicaid. But year after year, our Obama-hatin’ lawmakers have said no to those federal millions, which could pay for thousands of jobs in the healthcare field in our state — not to mention providing people with medical coverage.

                  So, at least on that big issue, it’s kind of wasted money, isn’t it? Yet there were the hospital officials, busily feeding and schmoozing the lawmakers.

                  Of course, I’m just looking at it from 30,000 feet. I’m sure maintaining these relationships helps on other issues…

                7. Brad Warthen Post author

                  Let’s not get carried away. Let’s start small. Let’s see if we can get a consensus on banning “bump” lobbyists. No one needs to have those…

                8. Bryan Caskey

                  Some would argue that the only way to stop a bad guy with a lobbyist is for the good guys to have lobbyists.

                  I’m not sure if you need to conceal them or if you should openly display them, so I’m open to hearing debate on that point.

          2. Brad Warthen Post author

            Doug, on the “ring leader” thing…

            It’s WAY complicated, because there are so many agendas here, and different motivations. Some of them hard to understand without understanding inside baseball stuff, and irrelevant turf wars.

            For instance, I was talking with Micah Caskey earlier, and he pointed the finger at Bill Sandifer and Brian White, chairs of the Labor, Commerce and Industry and Ways and Means committees, respectively. “This was Bill Sandifer and Bryan White flexing their muscles on this.”

            Sandifer, aside from being a loyal minion of the utilities (or as Micah put it more politely, “He’s very much a proponent of legacy energy and keeping things the status quo.”), was griping that the bill should have gone through HIS committee rather than Judiciary.

            Micah said someone said to him that the bill should have gone through LCI because “that’s where the knowledge is” on utilities. Micah asked, which committee handled the Base Load Review Act, which gave us the nuclear fiasco (and was before Micah’s time)? The answer was: LCI. So Micah reacted, Oh, THAT kind of knowledge….

            We could do without expertise like that…

            Reply
                1. Doug Ross

                  His 33 years give him power he doesn’t deserve. Tenure does not equal competence. If he had to step away for two years every twelve it would be interesting to see if he could climb back into a leadership position.

                2. Brad Warthen Post author

                  That’s right. Tenure does not equal competence. Nor does it equal corruption.

                  Experience is helpful when you’re a good representative. If you have a good rep WITH experience and one without, I’ll take the one with — because he’s more likely to get good things done.

                  This is what I have always said, and what I will always say. I don’t know why you keep acting as though I’m saying something else.

      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Those above were the bad guys, the ones my representative, Micah Caskey, would describe as the ones in the pockets of the big utilities.

        Here are the good guys, who voted FOR the bill:

        good guys

        And here’s the page where you can look up any members you want to know more about…

        Reply
        1. Mark Stewart

          You are forgetting those who did not vote. With only a few more votes yes the 2/3rds majority would have been in place.

          Some of these may have legit excuses, but others will have used their silence as a subrosa no vote.

          Reply
    3. Barry

      “Why is James Smith playing politics by blaming McMaster instead of his peers? “

      Well, to explain the obvious to you, McMaster pulled strings and put pressure on to defeat the bill. Without that pressure, the bill passes.

      So yes, hopefully a Smith administration would blame the behind the scenes puppet masters. It would be a refreshing change.

      Reply
      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        The contrast here couldn’t be greater. Smith was leading on this issue, putting together a strong coalition from both parties, and he WON according to the rules that everyone understood to be in force.

        Whatever Henry DID in private, behind the scenes, we know what he did NOT do: He didn’t lead. He didn’t help. He was AWOL. The way he’s been on everything that has to do with real issues in South Carolina. He’ll “lead” on bogus, fantasy issues. He’ll lead the charge against nonexistent “sanctuary cities,” and he’ll call up the National Guard and send them to guard another state’s border, when illegal immigration is at its lowest level since 1971.

        It’s like he’s governor in a parallel universe…

        Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          And that’s why I said what I said in the original post: Yeah, it’s bad if Henry put his thumb on the scales on this, but whether he did or not, this was a major shafting of the people of South Carolina — and we know Henry did nothing to HELP the reformers…

          Reply
  3. Larry Slaughter

    I’m always suspicious of votes like this: the House was “surprised” to find the vote required 2/3 vote; and it had to be brought to their attention at the 11th hour by SCANA? Doubt it.

    And I wonder about the non-voting and absentee legislators; was the count predetermined and some number of legislators had to not vote so that the 2/3 wouldn’t be met? Kirkman Finlay: not voting. Beth Bernstein: not voting. Kit Spires: not voting.

    https://www.scstatehouse.gov/votehistory.php?KEY=14561

    The way it came down, 99 legislators can go home and say either “i tried to pass this” or “I would have tried my best to pass this, but couldn’t be there” while all the while knowing the bill wouldn’t pass and their SCANA contributions would be safe.

    Do I sound too cynical?

    Reply
    1. Joe W

      Not at all. I was thinking the same. These guys pass legislation all the time (well one could argue that, but I digress). They know the requirements and the games that can be played like trading votes on bills to get things done. House and Senate members have lots of taxpayer paid staff to tell tell things they do not know. This was just another calculated example of how utilities and their paid lobbyists spread money around our government to influence the outcome of legislation.

      Reply
  4. bud

    Two obvious points from this fiasco. First, South Carolina really is an oligarchy. The plutocrats run the show. Second, why on earth do the people of this state continue to support the Republican party so completely? It is simply mind boggling that the GOP continues to have complete control of everything. The state continues to flounder in a wide variety of ways. And the voters continue to come out and vote Republican. Don’t people want good roads, quality education and affordable power? Apparently not.

    Reply
    1. Doug Ross

      No one can convince me that these types of shenanigans would happen as frequently if we instituted term limits. These are deals done by the long tenured crooks.

      Reply
          1. Brad Warthen Post author

            Doug, you’ve got experienced legislators on both sides. On the pro side, supporting James’ bill, you have a couple of newbies — Micah (still a freshman) and Nancy Mace come to mind. The rest are highly experienced lawmakers.

            Sure you can say experienced lawmakers worked to kill the bill. But it’s just as accurate to say that experienced legislators sponsored it, and worked hard to pass it. Neither experience nor inexperience was a cause of what happened…

            Reply
    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      Bud, this was not about Democrats vs. Republicans. This bill had a majority because of its strong Republican support — Caskey, Ballentine, Clary, Nancy Mace and others.

      And while most Democrats voted for the bill, at least two (just in a quick skim of the names) voted against: Lucas Atkinson from Marion, and Coach Hayes from Dillon…

      Reply
      1. bud

        McMaster is a Republican. And he will likely win the election in November. Seems like it’s mostly a Republican voter issue.

        Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          Which is why Democrats who want to do something about it need to nominate someone who can beat him — someone who has the potential to pull independents and some Republicans away from Henry…

          Reply
  5. Karen Pearson

    This is utterly digusting. If a representative voted for it, he should be voted out of office. This is an election year, after all. The reason I think these representatives should be voted out of office is simple: they’ve been bought.

    Reply
  6. Brad Warthen Post author

    Oh, and while we’re naming people, it was the Speaker, Jay Lucas, who ruled that this reading would require a two-thirds majority, a point no one raised until after the bill had overwhelmingly passed (but NOT with two-thirds) last week:

    The SPEAKER stated the constitutional requirement is clear and that a two-thirds vote of the House membership was required to pass the Bill. He stated he appreciated all the points made by the House membership; however, the numerous House Precedents, concerning constitutional requirements of a two-thirds vote of the membership to pass specific legislation, required him to look at the Bill as it is was before the House – not as it might possibly return to the Body in the future. He stated that the Bill, in its current form, created a property tax exemption covered by Article X, Section 3, and must receive the approval of two-thirds of the House membership before being sent to the Senate.

    Lucas also voted against the bill, FYI…

    Reply
    1. Brad Warthen Post author

      Note that the requirement for a two-thirds vote was “clear” to the speaker last night. But that clarity wasn’t anywhere to be seen last week, before the utilities were so soundly defeated…

      Reply
  7. Claus2

    How long have you people been dealing with the SC legislature… I’ve been here for 26 years and I doubt there’s a more poorly run state legislature in the country.

    Reply
    1. Lynn Teague

      Oh, you would enjoy Arizona. I’ve been involved with the legislature there. It was not a positive experience.

      Reply
      1. Claus2

        I don’t know it’s probably a toss up considering on the federal level people here keep electing people who need to go away like Lindsey Graham and Arizona keeps electing John McCain.

        Reply
  8. Bart

    Just a point to make about politicians in general. It doesn’t make any difference at all when it comes to politicians and being bought. Both sides are “bought” the minute they accept campaign donations from any source, especially corporations. Unless politicians are independently wealthy and can afford to finance their campaigns out of personal wealth, they depend on donations. I guess it all depends on which politicians one endorses or supports that determines in one’s estimation if they have been bought or not. In the end, it is perception based on your own political prism.

    The obvious 800 pound gorilla in the room here would be the utility companies and I would hazard a guess they contribute equally to both political parties. There are no innocents involved in this one, they knew or at least on the surface it would seem so.

    Reply
    1. bud

      Point well made. However, if voters automatically vote ONLY for Republicans doesn’t that make it easier for these guys to buy off? There is no competition in SC politics. Voters must be willing to vote for Democrats.

      Reply
      1. Bart

        You make a good point about voters automatically voting only for Republicans. Conversely, there are voters who automatically vote only for Democrats. They may be in the minority but they are just as guilty of not exploring the candidates position(s) on issues that affect everyone no matter what their party affiliation may be.

        Until the mindset that has been prevalent in South Carolina since the first cannot shot was fired from Ft. Sumter, this state will remain a state with one party dominating the political landscape. It is almost as if there is a collective mindset permeating the population of South Carolina and anytime this insane condition exists not just in South Carolina and it doesn’t matter whether the state is red or blue, only one side is heard on the majority of issues. You and I may not agree on the issues but if I don’t take time to listen and consider your position and insist that only mine is the right one, growth stops even though it appears to be progressing.

        We need elected representatives who understand the importance of a good infrastructure for our roads, schools, and other public services whose needs are addressed with sensibilities instead of the mule-stubborn resistance for the sake of resisting attitude so many in Columbia seem to be infected with. Plus it is not restricted to the state government, it has infected local governments for as long as I can remember. The comments coming from some elected officials, “Well, ah don’t think we need to spend any more money on schools or roads, they are adequate enough for our needs” is an affront to anyone with an education above the 5th grade level.

        Last comment. The state and local governments are usually run or dominated by a few individuals and that is a problem that has existed for as long as I can remember. A prime example on the state level is Hugh Leatherman. If anyone thinks the governor holds the power in South Carolina, think again. Hugh Leatherman is the most powerful man in this state behind the scenes. He and his friends control this state and until he is removed from power, things will not change. The same goes for most city and town governments. There is a power structure in each one that does control most political and civic events and it is unusual for anything to be accomplished without their approval.

        Reply
  9. Brad Warthen Post author

    In a release headlined “A dark day for solar in SC…but the sun will continue to shine,” Conservation voters of South Carolina said this:

    Friend –

    I know the title of the email is a bit melodramatic, but I think it captures the sentiment that we all have after yesterday’s vote on H.4421, the pro-solar bill we’ve been talking about for the last few weeks.

    We recently shared the great news that the pro-solar bill received second reading on April 5 and was on track to make crossover. This was a huge victory over the utilities and State Chamber who have fought solar jobs at every step.

    This all changed yesterday (Tuesday). H.4421 was supposed to receive a routine third reading, but it was anything but routine.
    Over the weekend and in to Monday the utilities and their supporters in the House drug out a never before used provision of state law to require a 2/3 vote of the House to pass the bill.
    Essentially, they changed the rules of the game with only 1 minute to go. 

    That meant we needed 82 legislators to vote for solar.

    After several valiant attempts to save the bill and address concerns, we fell short 61 in support of solar and 44 against. To be clear, H.4421 and solar jobs had a strong bipartisan majority in support. But without 82 votes, the bill didn’t reach the last minute threshold set by the Speaker and the utilities.

    A big clean energy thank you goes out to 61 Representatives who voted in favor of solar jobs yesterday. And a special shout out to the passionate speeches from Representatives J. Smith, Powers Norrell, Ballentine, McCoy, Thigpen, Hart, Rutherford, Stavrinakis, Ott, Cobb-Hunter, Arrington, and Clary.

    If you’d like to send your Representative an email about their vote, please use our template here

    BUT WE’RE NOT DONE FIGHTING. 

    The tactics used by the utilities, their supporters in the House, and the Speaker have fired up our champions in the House and Senate even more to fight for solar jobs.
    Though the most conventional way to pass a solar jobs bill is closed, it doesn’t mean we’re out of options. We will pursue every single path to fight for clean energy and solar jobs.
    We will continue to fight this session to remove the net metering cap. We will fight for giving citizens and businesses the ability to reduce their power bills by choosing solar. And we will fight to move SC to a clean energy future.
    The sun will continue to rise, solar will continue to be the future that SC needs and deserves, and we will continue to fight. 
    And speaking of fighting, over the course of the solar debate there were 14 votes on solar-related legislation. These votes tell a very clear story of who supports solar jobs and a clean energy future and who does not.
    These votes will feature heavily in the endorsement conversations we’ll have with candidates and incumbents as well as the CVSC Board’s deliberations on endorsements over the coming weeks.
    This June and November, we all go to the polls. We’ll provide direct feedback at the ballot box to the Representatives that voted against solar. Because elections matter. And their votes on conservation issues matter to you.

    We’re not done. We’re just getting started.

    Best,
    John Tynan
    Executive Director
    P.S. If you’d like to read more about what happened yesterday, check out this article in the State.
    Reply
  10. Lynn Teague

    Campaign donations matter, but it isn’t that simple. First, legislators are sometimes not so concerned about getting them for themselves but are afraid that an opponent will be bankrolled. A senator gave that explicit reason for not getting involved in trying to fix the Base Load Review Act back in early 2016. (I was already working on trying to get that thing amended as early as 2015, because V. C. Summer was an obvious debacle made possible by the perverse incentives in the BLRA) Second, there are many other routes for money to flow. We still don’t have the protections against consulting fees and other contractual mechanisms that we need. And then there is the option of simply ignoring conflict of interest (see §8-13-700(B)), being paid by entities with business before the General Assembly without recusal on matters affecting that business. I’m also not a fan of public officials maintaining charities and hitting up lobbyists to fund them. The practice establishes a bad relationship and in some cases amounts to getting the functional equivalent of campaign advertising through the charity.

    Reply
    1. Mr. Smith

      Since you appear to be closer to these things than anybody else on this blog, perhaps you can do us all a service and tell us when and why it was determined that matters like this should require a super majority? WHY was it made part of law/procedure in the first place?

      Reply
      1. Brad Warthen Post author

        Lynn can probably answer that much better than I, but I can offer a guess: It was done to make it harder to create new tax exemptions. Most of us agree that our tax system is a confusing mess, what with all the exemptions. I’m thinking this was done to slow the growth of such things….

        Reply
        1. Claus2

          “Most of us agree that our tax system is a confusing mess, what with all the exemptions.”

          Donald Trump has a solution in place for that, put in place days after taking office.

          Reply
            1. Doug Ross

              “At that point, all that could be said about Trump and taxes is that he wouldn’t release his…”

              James Smith is following the same playbook.

              Reply
          1. Claus2

            “I have no idea what you’re talking about.”

            You’re talking about how confusing taxes preparation is. You haven’t heard about all this doubling the tax deduction for individuals and eliminating all the stupid deductions people can take? Basically turning the 1040 form into the 1040EZ form and not requiring a tax attorney if you own income property or anything more than a savings account?

            Maybe Donald Trump will release his tax returns the same time James Smith releases his.

            Reply
    2. Brad Warthen Post author

      “First, legislators are sometimes not so concerned about getting them for themselves but are afraid that an opponent will be bankrolled.”

      Absolutely. There is probably no stronger or more common motivating factor in our politics today. Or anything more corrosive to good government. And since we’ve drawn districts so that only primaries matter, the fear of a more-extreme partisan facing you in the primary has made us more and more polarized, cycle after cycle…

      Reply
      1. Doug Ross

        “There is probably no stronger or more common motivating factor in our politics today.”

        Absolutely not. For incumbents (who have a very high rate of re-election) they often are unopposed. You think Hugh Leatherman is motivated by some lobbyist donating to an opponent of his? Hardly.. he is motivated by remaining in power to help control funds (and nepotism) that benefit him and his family.

        Reply
        1. Brad Warthen Post author

          That’s right, Doug. Don’t listen to people like Lynn who deal with this stuff day and night and know these people intimately.

          She just told you something that was true. Try to see it for what it is…

          Reply
  11. Barry

    This post is from Rep Neal Collins’ Facebook feed.

    Apparently the Commission for Minority Affairs and their 10 employees do absolutely nothing. Here is his post.

    Today, I had to perform one of the more awkward legislative duties of my tenure.

    If you have followed, our oversight subcommittee has been reviewing Commission for Minority Affairs and its 10 employees for months with numerous meetings lasting hours.

    From the very first meeting, CMA staff and the director were woefully unprepared. CMA’s researcher testified his duties included compiling two reports per year. However, since 2007, one report had never been done and another had only been done twice. This same researcher testified the reports weren’t completed because other governmental agencies wouldn’t share information. However, upon investigation, this researcher had never emailed the agencies over the span of a decade. Another employee over the Native Americans division testified the bulk of her duties were to certify new tribes. However, she testified she knows of no other tribes to be recognized. CMA has been running an annual conference for minority businesses. However, initial testimony and documents were inaccurate or misleading. Further testimony and documents only added suspicion, including the very damaging aspect of CMA employees admitted to using CMA time and funds to create non-profits with the intent of those non-profits being private. The mission of CMA is clear in statute and nearly none of the goals are being met.

    In short, my takeaway from CMA is that its $1 million budget is being wasted and the biggest losers were the very minorities the commission is meant to support.

    With that, today, my bipartisan colleagues and I had to inform CMA’s directors and employees of our viewpoints. I then made a motion that our subcommittee has no-confidence in the commission, which passed unanimously. (This by the way was a compromise as I preferred abolishing the CMA.)

    Unfortunately, becoming more cynical with time, I don’t know if anything will be done. It’s “only” $1 million, there will be some who will protect CMA, it has racial implications, and time will pass during the off-session. However, I’m proud of my subcommittee colleagues’ work and their votes today. Maybe our work will have some impact. $1 million is a lot where I come from and we sure aren’t getting a return on that money other than employing 10 people.

    Reply

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