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South Carolina’s “Republican-controlled” S.C. General Assembly hasn’t even been in session for 24 hours and they’ve already started raising fees in an effort to generate more revenue for state government.

On Wednesday morning a Senate subcommittee voted to allow the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) to raise a water sampling fee in an effort to generate $700,000 in new revenue for the agency.

Bear in mind that South Carolina spent a record $22.1 billion last year – and is poised to grow government by as much as $1 billion this year.

According to S.C. Sen. Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley), the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is requiring additional testing and SCDHEC wants to make money performing those tests.

“It’s all about the money,” an agency representative testified.

Grooms’ response?

“I asked them what Georgia would like us to do,” he said, referring to the agency’s controversial appeasement of the state of Georgia’s port expansion plans (a.k.a. Gov. Nikki Haley’s “Savannah River Sellout“).

“Fundamentally this is no different than a national health care mandate,” Grooms said. “We all get a better price and have better quality if we mandate big government do something.”

Sadly, thanks to South Carolina’s screwy agency regulatory laws, a two-thirds vote of the committee would have been required to shoot down this fee hike. In fact, absent such a show of disapproval the hike would have automatically taken place in 17 days.

S.C. Sen. Tom Davis – the General Assembly’s leading fiscal conservative – has proposed legislation that would force lawmakers to proactively approve these fee hikes by a simple majority vote.

Unfortunately, like other pro-taxpayer reforms that Davis has introduced his fee reform legislation has been bottled up by “Republican” leaders like Senate Finance Chairman Hugh Leatherman, Senate President Glenn McConnell and Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler.

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