One of the challenges legislators face in the upcoming session is to navigate the thin line between correcting problems that our wandering, high-flying, philandering governor has brought to light and taking knee-jerk actions that will create new problems.
If they learn from experience, for example, lawmakers will clean up ambiguities in the ethics laws — which have been exploited by many people besides Mr. Sanford — and even pull back on ethics provisions that place unreasonable restrictions on the chief executive.
Unfortunately, early indications are that lawmakers will be more focused on addressing problems unique to Mark Sanford. That's not a terrible problem if the laws do no harm; we have plenty of laws that are never used and serve no purpose. The problem arises when lawmakers use the Sanford affair as a cover for completely unrelated, bad ideas they've been hawking for years or, worse, when there's simply no way of writing the unnecessary laws without creating problems.
Topping the list of Sanford-as-cover laws is the proposal to require the governor and lieutenant governor to have 24-7 SLED protection. A reasonable argument can be made for mandatory gubernatorial protection, although that wouldn't be an issue if we didn't elect someone like Mark Sanford. But providing security protection for the part-time lieutenant governor, as the current lieutenant governor has been lobbying for, is absurd. The only reason we even have a lieutenant governor is so there will be a warm body to take over if something happens to the governor; if that happened, then the lieutenant-governor-turned-governor would be entitled to security. Until then, it's a needless expense.
Topping the list of knee-jerk problem-creators is a bill to define the circumstances under which the lieutenant governor assumes the duties of the governor in an emergency. (The constitution authorizes this but gives no details or definitions.)
To read the complete editorial, visit The State (Columbia, S.C.).