Why is it that whenever the South Carolina legislature is on the verge of letting voters decide whether to repeal the state's archaic and dangerous mini-bottle law, some lawmakers who seemed to be for the vote back off? It's suspicious. What's going on behind the scenes?
Earlier in the legislative session, the House drummed up eight votes more than the two-thirds majority necessary to get the measure on the ballot, but last week in calling for another House vote to prod the Senate to take action, the measure came up 11 votes short.
Clearly, something smelly is going on here. Why did so many lawmakers change their vote? How do they stand to benefit by going against the wishes of law-enforcement, the hospitality industry and even substance-abuse activists such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving? Yes, these organizations are all against the mini-bottle law because it contributes to the state's abnormally high driving under the influence deaths, accidents and arrests. It's also bad for business.
Just about everybody is opposed to the mini-bottle law, except for liquor distributors, distillers, bottlers and a handful of their allies who might lose some money if voters OK repealing the mini-bottle law from the state constitution. Some state bureaucrats also fear loss of revenues, although studies show the loss would be minimal, if any.
There is one last chance this week for the legislature to give voters the right to decide the mini-bottle issue. If lawmakers won't let the people's voice be heard on this fundamental issue, then there ought to be an investigation.