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SC – Constitution’s One Subject Rule intact

Posted by salestax on May 27, 2009

***UPDATE*** 

South Carolina issued an information letter to annouce information about the sales tax holidays that were nullified by the descision discussed in this post.  However, the Energy Holiday has not been re-established yet.  SC now has a back-to school holiday and their 2nd amendment (guns) holiday back for 2009.  To see the effective dates of these holidays and more informtion, see the 2009 Sales Tax Holidays post.  To read the  SC Information Letter #09-9, click here

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SC State Supreme Court finds that Act 338, allowing for sales tax holidays on guns and energy efficient products is unconstitutional because the legislature “log-rolled” another tax credit in with this act.

What we discover is that the SC Governor opposed the Act because it included a separate section for a tax credit unrelated to the sales tax holidays.  This was thought to be in violation of the SC Constitution which has a “one subject rule,” basically meaning that there must be a separate Act for each cause in order to prevent what is known as “log-rolling.” 

However, the SC legislature overruled the Governor’s veto and the Act went through with 3 separate items in one Act.  The SC Supreme Court ruled that this Act was in violation of the SC Constitution and thereby ruled that the entire act be nullified – including the first two sections regarding enacted sales tax holidays.

Since Act 338 was originally put into place, the “1st Amendment tax holiday” had already taken place once (2008 Friday and Saturday after Thanksgiving), but the energy holiday had not happened yet and nor will it now.  The energy holiday was originally scheduled for later this year, but now both sales tax holidays are cancelled.  Perhaps the SC legislation will introduce new bills to revamp these holidays, but with this year’s state of economies, maybe they’ll reconsider.  We’ll keep you posted on this one.

And, because I was interested in this term “log-rolling,” I thought you might be as well.  It’s not a term that I recall being used in everyday political speak, so I decided to become educated about it.  My suspicion is that now that I know what it means, I’ll end up hearing it a lot more.  But, in summary, this term has been around for a long time and is very close to today’s version of “Pork Barrel” legislation.

According to the Law Encyclopedia: 

Logrolling is:  A legislative practice of embracing in one bill several distinct matters, none of which, perhaps, could singly obtain the assent of the legislature, and then procuring its passage by a combination of the minorities in favor of each of the measures into a majority that will adopt them all.

Practice of including in one statute or constitutional amendment more than one proposition, inducing voters to vote for all, notwithstanding they might not have voted for all if amendments or statutes had been submitted separately.

From A Historical Perspective:

Logrolling is the term used when members of congress support each other’s hometown projects not for the merit of the project but simply as a reciprocative exchange. The first known use of the term was by Congressman Davy Crockett, who said on the floor in 1835, “my people don’t like me to log-roll in their business, and vote away pre-emption rights to fellows in other states that never kindle a fire on their own land.” Logrolling is closely akin to, and results in, pork barrel legislation that loads up spending bills with hometown project money, often directed toward suspect causes or construction. It is an affliction of the democratic process that seems incurable.  Oxford English Dictionary. 2nd ed., s.v. “Logrolling.” New York: Oxford University Press, 1989

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