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Proving that the fight for government transparency in South Carolina is going to be a much broader battlefield than anyone previously suspected, the S.C. Policy Council today unveiled one of the most comprehensive reports on the subject that we’ve ever seen – a sweeping overview of numerous processes and multiple government entities that proposes equally extensive reforms.

Simply put, the report is as meticulously-researched and well-conceptualized a road map for bringing South Carolina out of the dark ages as you’re going to find, and we urge that all of its recommendations be adopted immediately.

Offering “clear guidance for implementing government transparency,” the report focuses on five areas of public policy – online checkbooks, open records reform, taxpayer-funded lobbying, on-the-record voting and enhanced lawmaker income disclosure – and offers specific policy initiatives designed to enhance transparency and accountability in each area.

“It is time for reform,” the report reads. “South Carolina must embrace government accountability and
transparency, and should look to the many working examples in place today throughout the nation in other states.”

And in a nod to the much more aggressive direction the organization has taken over the last year, no bones are made as to the philosophical underpinnings of the debate.

“The role of government in a free society is to establish the framework for the free market and then allow individuals to operate unfettered within these established boundaries,” it reads. “South Carolina has strayed far from the vision of our nation’s founding fathers by injecting government into nearly all aspects of life.
Incorporating essential transparency reforms would establish a foundation of good government principles upon which to build a strong economic recovery.”

Hell to the yeah.

The depth of research put into this report is simply amazing, as is the fortitude shown by the leadership at the Policy Council, which has for better or worse had a target painted on its back by S.C. Speaker Bobby Harrell – one of the preeminent defenders of the status quo in South Carolina.

With this report, the Policy Council has not only refused to back down from Harrell’s threats, it has redefined the ongoing debate over this issue.

Now it’s time for those of us who support these long-overdue reforms to accompany these new battle lines by drawing a line of our own in the sand – and compelling lawmakers to choose a side.

Ask anyone at the State House and they’ll tell you they want greater transparency and accountability in government, but do they? Really?

We’ll have to see which side of the line they come down on …

WEB EXTRA:

S.C. Policy Council Transparency Report