More Victories for the 2nd Amendment and Gov’t Reform

Statehouse Report #2

There was lots of activity in the State House this week as we advanced two major pieces of legislation and heard from the Governor in her annual State of the State address.


South Carolinians will see the most significant streamlining of state government in a generation now that the House and Senate gave final approval to the “Department of Administration” legislation.

I wrote about this extensively last week, so I’ll just recap it quickly: This legislation moves the vast majority of the administrative functions of state government under the control of the Governor for the first time. It also effectively eliminates the old Budget and Control Board, which was a quasi-legislative/executive agency that controlled much of state government.

We have fought for this reform for nearly a decade – and approved it six times in the past five years alone. The vision of two Governors, two Speakers, and four House Majority Leaders is now reality, and our state will be better for it.

Restaurant Carry

The House also gave key approval to legislation that will allow people who have Concealed Weapons Permits to carry their weapons into bars or restaurants as long as they do not consume alcohol. Violators are subject to fines, imprisonment and revocation of their Concealed Weapons Permits. Businesses will be allowed to prohibit firearms on their property by posting signs. This is a victory for law-abiding gun owners who want to protect themselves and their families, and keep them from unwittingly violating the law.

State of the State

On Wednesday night, we heard from Governor Haley in her State of the State address. My Republican colleagues and I were excited to hear the governor’s support for many of our priorities such as ethics reform, infrastructure improvements, and flattening our personal income tax structure. She also pledged to continue fighting the massive Medicaid expansion that creates new cycles of dependency on government and will eventually bankrupt our state.

Finally, as is typical in January, much of the work was done by House Ways and Means budget subcommittees as they tried to wrap up their work before the budget goes to the full committee next month. We tried to spend as little time as possible on the floor so they could have time to get their work done. Debating and crafting a state budget that wisely spends your hard-earned tax dollars is the most important thing we do each year.

Cannon’s Campground Lawsuit

After returning to Spartanburg from Columbia, I attended the community meeting regarding the Cannon’s Campground pollution lawsuit. The suit relates to the former Hoechst Celanese site in that community. If you live in the Cannon’s Campground area or know someone who does, please read this article from the Spartanburg Herald-Journal and stay current on the developments concerning this issue.

Business Advocate Award

I was honored to receive the Business Advocate Award from the S.C. Chamber of Commerce this week. This is the third time I have received the award for my voting record on pro-business legislation. I look forward to keeping South Carolina a jobs-friendly state.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve you in Columbia again this year. If you need help navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me at (864) 591-1113 or

Rep. Derham Cole
Representative, District 32
South Carolina General Assembly

On the Verge of Major Government Reform

Dear Friends:

The General Assembly returned to Columbia this week for the second half of our two-year term. Amid the hustle-and-bustle of the first week, we made significant progress on a notable Republican Caucus agenda item.

After more than a decade of effort by the House Republican majority, our state is once again on the verge of the biggest streamlining of state government in nearly three decades. We have approved this legislation five times in the past seven years, and other versions of it have been in the legislative pipeline since 2000.

A House-Senate Conference Committee signed off on a “Department of Administration” bill this week that moves the vast majority of the administrative functions of state government – human resources, information technology, state vehicles, and “general services” – under the control of the Governor for the first time.

The bill also effectively eliminates the old Budget and Control Board – a quasi-legislative/executive agency that controlled much of state government.

The House leadership under two Speakers and four House Majority Leaders has worked with Governors Sanford and Haley to make this legislation a reality.

Other notable highlights of the legislation:

  • We prohibited any state agency from running a deficit unless it receives the explicit approval of the General Assembly. We whole-heartedly oppose any state agency running a deficit, but this window needs to stay cracked in case of major state emergencies, natural disasters, or other unforeseen calamities.
  • We protected the state’s AAA credit rating by creating two small, independent agencies (with a total of fewer than 200 employees) with broad decision making structures to ensure secure management of the state’s fiduciary responsibilities. This includes bonding authority and the state auditor.
  • The Office of State Budget and the Board of Economic Advisors will be completely independent from the Governor’s Office and the General Assembly. This will ensure politics does not play a role in effective budgeting.
  • The General Assembly is required to review every state agency and every program on a five-year basis. While this isn’t the true “sunset panel” we have advocated for more than a decade, it is a step in the right direction for holding state bureaucrats accountable to the public.

We came this close two years ago, but a last-second Senate filibuster killed the Department of Administration bill. This bill joins two other major pieces of government reform legislation pending in the state Senate that would give state voters the option of letting the Governor appoint the Adjutant General and the Superintendent of Education. The House approved both of those measures last year.

Much of the week was reserved for the House Ways and Means subcommittees to begin work on writing the 2014-2015 state budget. January is always a busy time for the House members on that committee as they work on crafting the balanced budget that we have approved every year since voters gave Republicans control of the State House in 1994.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve you in Columbia again this year. If you need help navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.


Rep. Derham Cole
Representative, District 32
South Carolina General Assembly

S.C. Credit Monitoring Enrollment Begins TODAY

Dear Friends:

I hope this e-mail finds you well. I’m sending you a note to remind you that TODAY is the beginning of the re-enrollment period for the free credit monitoring provided by the state.

You can sign up here: or by calling (855) 880-2743

It is important to understand that if you signed up for monitoring with Experian, it will not automatically transfer. You must sign up again.

Last month, we signed a new contract with CSIdentify Corporation (CSID) for the purpose of continuing ID protection service to South Carolinians and businesses affected by the massive data breach at the Department of Revenue in 2012. I know this is troublesome, but the state had to switch providers after Experian refused to continue providing coverage. (If you paid Experian to continue the service, you can get a refund.)

It is vital that you sign up for this coverage because your identity is at risk to thieves. The good news is that if you sign up now for the new coverage, there will be no lapse.

Again, to review, CSID will provide:

  • Credit Monitoring:
    Monitor for credit inquiries, delinquencies, judgments and liens, bankruptcies, new loans and more
  • Child Monitoring:
    Monitor all known addresses and aliases associated with your child’s SSN, and alerts you if your child’s personal information is being bought or sold online
  • CyberAgent®:
    Monitor websites, chat rooms and bulletin boards 24/7 to identify trading or selling of your personal information
  • Court Records:
    Know if and when your name, date of birth and SSN appear in court records for an offense that you did not commit
  • Non-Credit Loans:
    Know if your personal information becomes linked to short-term, high-interest payday loans
  • Change of Address:
    Monitor to see if someone has redirected your mail
  • Social Security Number Trace:
    Know if your SSN becomes associated with another individual’s name or address
  • Identity Theft Insurance:
    Receive insurance against expenses in the event that your identity is compromised with a $1,000,000 insurance policy
  • Identity Restoration:
    Work with a certified identity theft restoration specialist to restore your ID and let you get on with your life. This service is available for eligible SC taxpayers even if you do not enroll in CSID’s identity protection plan.It is vitally important that anyone whose credit was compromised signs up for this monitoring ASAP (and if you are reading this, there is a very good chance your data was compromised).

Thank you for for the privilege of serving you in the House of Representatives.


Rep. Derham Cole
Representative, District 32
South Carolina General Assembly

Perfect Vote Score from SC BIPEC

Letter to Representative Derham Cole from President of SC BIPEC, Tom DeLoach

July 20, 2012

The Honorable Derham Cole, Jr.
PO Box 1467
Spartanburg, SC 29304

Dear Representative Cole:

Congratulations. SC BIPEC has completed its analysis of voting records for the 2012 Sesssion of the 119th General Assembly. We are very pleased that you have achieved one of the only 19 overall Vote Scores of 100 in the S.C. House.

The votes that we include in our evaluations are those SC BIPEC’s Legislative Advisory Committee and BIPECPAC’s leadership select as issue that impact business and industry in South Carolina. These bills typically either promote or inhibit economic development and jobs creation. We utilize roll call votes and bill sponsorship in tabulating a legislator’s Vote Score.

With a Vote Score of 100, the business and industry community considers you a “Champion of Free Enterprise.” Your legislative endeavors have resulted directly in the creation of jobs and a higher standard of living for South Carolinians. In your work with members of the business and industry community or any other groups including the media, please feel free to utilize your SC BIPEC 2012 Vote Score in any way that will be helpful to you. We issued a press release today heralding your exemplary service.

Congratulations again on receiving a Vote Score of 100 for the 2012 Session of the 119th General Assembly.


Tom DeLoach

Candidates file paperwork to enter upcoming election

The opening of the filing period for candidates hoping to win election to state, local and congressional seats opened with no surprises Friday in Spartanburg County.

A cadre of incumbent Spartanburg GOP officials gathered at the county’s Republican headquarters to file their paperwork and pay their filing fee as soon as the clock struck noon.

With life-size board cutouts of George Washington, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush standing watch over the assembled candidates, along with candidate signs from campaign seasons past lining the walls, the officials joked and smiled as they formalized their bids.

Rep. Derham Cole strode in a few minutes after the others had already gathered.

“Derham, we voted before you came that you would pay all of our filing fees,” one of the incumbents ribbed the freshman House member.

Only a few of the county’s incumbent Republicans, all of whom have told the county GOP they will seek re-election, have challengers who have announced their intent to run.

Of the known challengers, only former state Sen. John Hawkins, who will take on Sen. Lee Bright in the District 12 race, filed on Friday, according to the county party.

But even for those not expected to face serious opposition, there was no talk of a glide path back to Columbia.

“A campaign is never easy,” said GOP Rep. Steve Parker of Boiling Springs, who filed with the group at Republican headquarters. “It’s stressful. It’s exhausting and very involved.”

Rep. Eddie Tallon, R-Spartanburg, noted that he’ll have to familiarize himself with a new district altered the most of any of the county’s incumbent state representatives during last year’s redistricting process.

Tallon’s current district includes parts of Spartanburg and Cherokee counties, while the redesigned district is located entirely in Spartanburg County after taking in portions of Rep. Mike Anthony and Rep. Bill Chumley’s former districts.

“There are always challenges in every race,” Tallon said. “However, I know so many people in the area. I feel very comfortable with the people that I’m going to represent.”

Spartanburg County Clerk of Court Hope Blackley doesn’t yet have firsthand experience with the challenges elections bring.

Appointed by former Gov. Mark Sanford to fill the remaining two years of the unfinished term of former clerk Mark Kitchens, Blackley said after filing Friday that her re-election — or more accurately “initial election” campaign — represents her first political contest.

“I think it’s going to be a wonderful experience,” she said. “I love the job and look forward to it. I can’t emphasize enough how glad I am to be back home.”

Of Spartanburg County’s three incumbent Democratic officials eligible to file, only Sen. Glen Reese did so Friday.

Suspended state Rep. Harold Mitchell said Friday evening that he would file on Saturday.

He was suspended in January after a state Grand Jury handed down four felony indictments of tax evasion.

Mitchell said he is eligible to file despite his suspension and said the charges won’t be an issue for long.

“It’s going to be resolved, and I’ll just leave it at that,” he said.

The only other incumbent Spartanburg County Democrat, County Councilman Michael Brown, has said he will seek re-election, outgoing county Democratic Party Chairwoman Shelly Roehrs said.

The councilman and any other interested candidates have until noon on March 30 to file.


Bill would end DUI exemption for moped drivers

Some South Carolina magistrates are throwing out drunken-driving cases because the drivers were on mopeds, which are exempt from SC motor-vehicle laws.

But Wednesday, a state Senate committee approved a bill that would reclassify mopeds as a motor vehicle in terms of enforcing drinking-and-driving laws only.

You don’t need a driver’s license to drive a moped in South Carolina, making it a popular choice for drunken-driving offenders with suspended licenses. In the Senate version of the bill, DUI offenders with suspended licenses still could drive mopeds. But they would no longer be exempt from state drunken-driving laws.

The bill, originally sponsored by state Reps. Eddie Tallon and Derham Cole, both Spartanburg Republicans, passed the SC House last year. That version of the proposal would have considered a moped to be a motor vehicle in all aspects of the law.

State law defines a moped as having a motor of less than 50-cubic centimeters and not capable of going faster than 30 miles per hour.

State troopers have had magistrates dismiss several DUI cases involving mopeds, said Col. Michael Oliver, commander of the state Highway Patrol.

Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley, called that “a glitch in the law.”

“This will take care of that loophole,” he said.

Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, initially objected to the law because he said the state also exempts tractors and bicycles from drunken-driving laws.

“I don’t think you should operate a moped drunk,” he said. “But what are you going to do, suspend their license? You don’t need a license to drive a moped.”

Source: The State

2011 Legislative Scorecard

Conservative Republican Derham Cole comes through with a strong showing in the annual legislative scorecard. This year, Rep. Cole received an “A” rating from the SC Chamber of Commerce.

This latest report only confirms how dedicated Rep. Cole is to tackling the important issues facing our state and district. You can view the entire scorecard online. Please visit his Facebook page now to leave a comment or question.

Lawmakers voted to protect public education and taxpayers’ money

The following is an op-ed printed in The Spartanburg Herald-Journal:

It’s an odd assertion that a “true conservative” is someone who wants the government to subsidize private education and that those who want to protect the public schools are somehow phony conservatives.

But that’s the allegation six Spartanburg lawmakers are facing. They voted against the latest school voucher scheme and fell afoul of the groups established with out-of-state money to push this agenda in South Carolina. They also angered some tea party groups that are quick to believe any allegation of phony conservatism.

The truth is that the Spartanburg Six — Reps. Rita Allison, Steve Parker, Eddie Tallon, Mike Forrester, Derham Cole and Doug Brannon— did the right thing.

The measure billed as “school choice” would not have opened up new choices to parents or children. Its overall effect would have been to make private school more affordable for parents already able to make that choice. It offered such parents a tax credit to help pay the tuition. Poor parents, who can’t pay the tuition up front and don’t make enough money to take advantage of the tax credit, would have been left out in the cold. The bill offered them only the unlikely promise of privately financed scholarships.

The bill would not have improved any schools. It would have taken scarce resources away from the public schools, and it would have eroded the independence of private schools. Government money always comes with government strings. If this voucher bill had passed, it would have been only a matter of time before the General Assembly applied its accountability system and school report cards to private schools. Lawmakers would have declared that the state could not be subsidizing private schools without holding them accountable. Sooner or later, private schools would have to adopt the same tests and curriculum as public schools.

It’s time to get past the lie that parents who pay to send their children to private schools pay for education twice, or that they pay for schools they don’t use. The truth is that we do not pay taxes to support public schools solely to educate our own children. We support a public school system so that we can live in an educated society. We support a public school system because the alternative is an illiterate populace, rampant poverty and a hopeless future.

The Spartanburg Six voted to protect the public schools because they recognize that there is no reasonable alternative. It’s not because they don’t want parents to have choices, but they recognize that there will be no free-market utopia where tax credits allow all parents the choice between excellent private academies and the government is out of the education business. That plan simply isn’t realistic.

The Spartanburg Six are not slaves to the teachers’ unions or some liberal agenda. Public education is not some leftist tenet. It is not some new liberal invention. It’s the method this nation has used for generations to create the success we have had. That system isn’t perfect. Our schools are struggling in many ways, but voucher schemes like the one rejected by the Spartanburg Six would not help.

Bill allows mo-ped drivers to be charged with DUI

Driving drunk on a mo-ped would become illegal in South Carolina under a bill given initial approval.

A House panel voted 5-0 on Tuesday to send the measure to the full Education and Public Works Committee.

Current state law specifically excludes mo-peds from the definition of a motor vehicle. The measure would remove the exclusion, allowing officers to charge drunken mo-ped drivers with driving under the influence.

Republican Rep. Derham Cole of Spartanburg says legislators need to tighten the law to help prosecutors make the roads safer.

Law enforcement officers say people often get around on a mo-ped after losing their driver’s license. If they are stopped for driving drunk, they can be charged with public disorderly conduct. Officers supporting the change include Public Safety Director Mark Keel.

Courtesy of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal

Habisreutinger receives S.C. Mother of the Year award

fixture in Spartanburg’s philanthropic community was recognized on Monday as the 2011 South Carolina Mother of the Year.

Marianna Black Habisreutinger, mother to three grown children and grandmother of two, was recognized for her ability to skillfully balance her family commitments as well as her many commitments to the community. She became the third Spartanburg resident to receive the award since its inception in 1942.

Habisreutinger’s family and friends joined her at the Statehouse for an afternoon awards presentation and reception with Gov. Nikki Haley. Habisreutinger also was presented with a resolution from the S.C. House of Representatives by Reps. Derham Cole Jr., Rita Allison and Eddie Tallon.

She soon will travel to Salt Lake City for the national Mother of the Year convention, where a national winner will be named from the pool of state winners on May 1.

“It’s such an honor, and I look forward to going to Utah and meeting mothers from all over the country,” Habisreutinger said.

From her point of view, Habisreutinger said a Mother of the Year is a woman “who first of all loves her family, appreciates her heritage and the gifts that she’s been given to follow a tradition of service to her community. A very special challenge and opportunity being a mother is to pass that on to the next generation.”

Haley said Habisreutinger certainly fits the bill.

“As a mother, you strive for what every mother wants to be, which is the ability to balance service and motherhood and caring and strength, all in one,” Haley said. “You’ve done that beautifully. You’re going to represent South Carolina well.”

Haley recognized Habisreutinger’s husband, Roger, for supporting his wife throughout the years. She stressed that the qualities represented in the Mother of the Year are vital to the state, especially in times of change and transition.

“I believe what made her stand out is her love for volunteerism,” Roger Habisreutinger said of his wife. “It is her caring for her fellow man, because most of the organizations that she’s involved in are in one way or another serving the public at large.”

For her part, Habisreutinger is involved with numerous nonprofits and community groups, including the University of South Carolina Upstate, Storm Eye Institute of the Medical University of South Carolina, Ellen Hines Smith Girls Home, Charles Lea Center Foundation, Cancer Association of Spartanburg and Cherokee Counties Inc., Spartanburg Methodist College and the Wellvista Advisory Board. She has served as a trustee for the Mary Black Foundation Board and Mary Black Memorial Hospital for more than 20 years and has served as president of the Junior League of Spartanburg, chairwoman of the Spartanburg County Foundation, member of the Board of Visitors of the Medical University of South Carolina, chairwoman of St. Luke’s Free Medical Clinic and chairwoman of Urban League of the Upstate.

The Charles Lea Center Foundation nominated Habisreutinger for the state award. She founded the group in 1985.

Ann Flynn, a Spartanburg resident and chairwoman of the S.C. Mother of the Year search committee, spoke of Habisreutinger’s “boundless energy,” “unstoppable determination” and “gracious Spartanburg charm.”

“There is no one I can think of that has done more or has been more visible, especially in the area of health care, education and the arts,” Flynn said. “Not only has Marianna balanced her family commitments, but she has instilled in each one of her children a commitment in the community.”

Her son, Charles Habisreutinger, said the importance of giving back was something instilled in him and his two siblings at an early age. It’s something his mother has abided by for most of her life.

“She just puts everyone else before herself,” he said. “Whether it’s philanthropic or community or business, she just thinks of other people before herself.”

Courtesy of the Spartanburg Herald-Journal