The late Sol Blatt — who was speaker of the state House of Representatives almost as long as Strom Thurmond was in the U.S. Senate — liked to quote his father as saying, “No man is safe in his person or his property as long as thelegislature is in session.”

Well, we can relax. The General Assembly has done all the damage it can and gone home to make new mischief. A number of bills and acts came out of the legislative session that I could probably write whole columns about, but I will focus on three and hope to make my point. And, as always, that point is that this poor old state is stuck with two wheels in the ditch because we keep electing the same sorry people, who keep making the same bad policy, generation after generation.

Let’s start with our brand-new law authorizing the death penalty for serial child rapists. Yes, our solons stood up to the powerful child rapist lobby and said, “Enough is enough!” Not that we have had a rash of serial rapists of children under the age of 11 — or that we have had even one, that I am aware of. But when that one occurs, by God, we’ll be ready!

Never mind that the law is probably unconstitutional. (South Carolinians famously have little regard for the Constitution.) The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that the death penalty, employed to punish nonhomicidal crimes, constitutes cruel and unusual punishment.

Our state’s top lawyer, Attorney General Henry McMaster, might have cautioned the zealous lawmakers that they were treading on thin legal ice. But McMaster was out front, leading the bandwagon, intoning piously and pompously, “This is a great step forward that will send a message loud and clear that that kind of conduct is not tolerated in South Carolina. We have stepped into the forefront of those states recognizing the threat of sexual predators.”

It’s a good thing we are in the forefront of something, for South Carolina is certainly not in the forefront of providing a safe and livable environment for our children. What masks itself as a child-protection law has nothing to do with protecting children. If the General Assembly gave a damn about our kids, South Carolina wouldn’t rank 42nd in the nation in overall well-being of its children, as determined by the annual Kids Count Survey. We wouldn’t have the fourth-highest rate of low birth-weight babies in the nation and 23 percent of our children wouldn’t live in poverty. If our legislators cared about children, we wouldn’t have the worst SAT scores in the nation and we wouldn’t rank 47th in the percentage of high school graduates or have the 11th highest percentage of teen smokers.

No, this law has nothing to do with protecting children. This is an anti-sex law, just like the bill introduced by Rep. Ralph Davenport (R-Spartanburg) to outlaw sex toys in this Bible-thumping province; just like the proposed constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage; just like dozens of other laws over the years whose purpose it was to codify who may have sex with whom, in what position, and under what circumstances. Be assured, if God doesn’t punish your sins, the State of South Carolina will.

The General Assembly gave us another solution in search of a problem, this one in the form of a law making it a crime to protest within 1,000 feet of a funeral. Nothing like that has happened in South Carolina and there is little reason to suspect that it will, but like a troop of Boy Scouts on a backyard camp-out, our legislators are prepared.

Finally, there is the “property tax relief act.” Designed primarily to lower property taxes for wealthy coastal homeowners, the law replaces lost revenues by raising the sales tax on everybody else by two percent, giving South Carolina one of the most regressive tax structures in the nation. (As a bone to the poor, the lawmakers thoughtfully lowered the sales tax on groceries from five percent to three percent, forgetting that poor people also wear clothes, drive cars and consume a host of other goods and services that will now cost more.)

Will the higher sales tax offset the reduced property tax? Maybe, maybe not. But it doesn’t seem too important, because the law was carefully drawn to stipulate that the property tax “relief” comes out of that portion of the tax that goes to fund school operations. So if the new tax structure doesn’t work, well, what the heck. It’s only education anyway.

So there you have it: It’s been a busy year for our General Assembly. And they will be back to serve us again in January.