Governor chides lawmakers for time spent on designations

COLUMBIA -- The state duck could have waited.

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford scolded lawmakers this week for naming official animals instead of solving serious state problems.

Still, the governor let a bill pass into law without his signature, granting various creatures ceremonial state status.

In explaining his decision not to sign the bill, Sanford wrote that "this bill does highlight the ways in which the General Assembly has missed opportunities this year to tackle the more pressing issues in the state."

He said it is "somewhat perplexing that the General Assembly found time to designate state animals."

Sanford said reforming the Employment Security Commission and eliminating the corporate income tax as a means to create jobs would have been a better use of legislators' time.

Nevertheless, the wood duck is now the official state duck, the northern right whale is the state's migratory marine mammal and the bottlenose dolphin is the official marine mammal, thanks to the passage of H. 3131.

"Some lawmakers do it because they personally have those interests, and some do it for their constituents," said Marion Edmonds, spokesman for the S.C. Parks, Recreation and Tourism.

S.C. Department of Natural Resources officials said official state birds, plants and animals enjoy no special protection. The new symbols are also unlikely to promote a particular state industry or raise the state's tourism profile.

"There is not so much any kind of tourism or marketing promotion, but rather local, regional and state matters of pride," said Edmonds.

Sarita Chourey can be reached at (803) 727-4257 or sarita.chourey@morris.com.

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