Given the recent terrorist atrocities committed in Charlottesville, VA and the public debate that has been stirred since, it comes as no surprise that our community with its long and storied history in both the War for American Independence and the War Between the States, has begun a conversation about memorials, traditions, and laws that have been passed in reference to each. The most spoken about law in reference to this subject is the "Heritage Act of 2000", which was amended in 2015 to facilitate the removal of the confederate flag from the grounds of the statehouse.
The law begins as being overly stringent about which symbols are allowed to be flown from the Statehouse. The law reads: "As of 12:00 noon on the effective date of this act, and permanently thereafter, the only flags authorized to be flown atop the dome of the State House, in the chambers of the Senate and House of Representatives, and on the grounds of the Capitol Complex shall be as authorized in this section". This literally means the only flags that can be legally flown over the Statehouse are the US flag and the State flag.
Given our penchant for dominating college sports (among others), this means that it would be against the law for a college or university to have their colors displayed over the capitol should they say... win a national championship. This has actually already happened at the request of the Governor (Nikki Haley). The USC flag flew above the Statehouse dome after the USC baseball team secured back-to-back national championships in 2010 and 2011. This begs the question, If we aren't going to enforce this poorly written law, why is it even on the books?
In 2015, the second portion of this law was addressed. The confederate battle flag was removed from the statehouse grounds after the Emanuel AME massacre, and rightfully so.
It is the third area of the law where things get really out of hand from my point-of-view. It is a textbook case of legislative overreach. The law states: "and any monument, marker, memorial, school, or street erected or named in honor of the Confederacy or the civil rights movement located on any municipal, county, or state property shall not be removed, changed, or renamed without the enactment of a joint resolution by a two-thirds vote of the membership of each house of the General Assembly approving same. This provision shall not apply to the maintenance and repair of the monument, marker, memorial, school, or street".
This law literally says that if a town or county wishes to do anything with these monuments, which includes street names and named greenspaces, they have to ask for permission. This... from a republican dominated General Assembly who are the purported champions of limited government and prevent such cases of obvious cases of overreach from occurring, We should be empowering our communities to self-determine, to let local voters decide what is best for themselves moving forward.
This "Heritage Act" was poorly written and ill-conceived from its initial introduction into the hopper. If allowed to serve in the general assembly, I would advocate and fight on behalf of a movement to repeal or address the issues that I have outlined within the Heritage Act.
Going forward we need strong leaders who aren't afraid to make the correct choices, even when they aren't the most politically expedient. It is never about who is right. Its always about fighting for what is right.