This Week in Columbia ·
As reports began to come in from the Capitol that legislators, initially enamored with the idea of doing away with an odious tax for huge numbers of their constituents (read: potential voters), were beginning to balk at the idea of swapping property taxes for an increased state sales tax, a bill was introduced into the state House of Representatives that would create a commission to further study the issue. So it looks like property tax reform may not happen this year. Statehouse pundit Andy Brack ( must be crowing, as he was claiming before the session even began that the attention paid to the issue was unwarranted. State Sens. Phil Leventis (D-Sumter) and Jake “I Used to Hate Tattoos” Knott (R-Lexington) cosponsored a bill last week that would allow motorcyclists to run red lights once they’ve checked for traffic, the idea being that two-wheelers can’t trigger red lights’ sensors. Good news for whitey wanting to set up a school of their own — legislation that could make it easier for charter schools to be opened passed the House last year and has been introduced into the Senate this year. Gov. Mark Sanford has championed the idea this year instead of his failed school voucher plan. —Bill Davis

When Brett Loses, Does America Lose, Too? ·
All-pro professional pundit and protester Brett Bursey, director of the Columbia-based South Carolina Progressive Network, got some bad news from the U.S. Supreme Court last week. The Court decided not to hear Bursey’s appeal on his conviction for refusing to leave a grassy knoll near Columbia’s Metropolitan Airport where he was protesting during a presidential visit in 2003. Bursey’s lawyer claims the ruling “will limit the First Amendment rights of all Americans” because Bursey was “pick(ed) out” of a crowd that happened to be supporters of the president. Bursey is planning a rally for the third week in February where he will invite 499 friends to the federal courthouse in Columbia to each pay a dollar toward his $500 fine as “a down payment on their freedom of speech.” —BD

Not so Fast, Jerome ·
After learning that the Charleston County School Board authorized the negotiation of a contract with a lobbyist to protect its right to levy property taxes, lawmakers sprang to action last week to block the decision. The Charleston legislative delegation’s Republican members of the House approved legislation to prohibit the board from hiring lobbyist Jerome Heyward. The contract negotiations were put on hold while the delegation deliberated. The bill will now move to the Senate, and if it passes, to Gov. Mark Sanford, who, some would argue, has not been the biggest supporter of funding public K-12 education. —Anna-Claire Hodge