Pick a Board, Any Board (S.C. Has Plenty)

August 26, 2010

Investigative Reports

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The NerveSouth Carolinians certainly do love their boards and commissions.

How else do you explain the fact that the Palmetto State has approximately 300 statewide supervising bodies, according to the Governor’s Office, overseeing everything from the University of South Carolina system to real estate appraisers, from the S.C. State Ports Authority to Charleston’s Old Exchange Building?

There are literally thousands of positions on South Carolina boards and commissions, and because state law prohibits an individual from serving on more than one board at time, that means there is a spot for better than one out of every 2,000 adults who reside in the state.

The huge number requires a taxing amount of work in finding, vetting, naming and reporting eligible candidates, one of the reasons Gov. Mark Sanford has consistently advocated for restructuring of state government.

“We’ve repeatedly made the case that South Carolina’s state government is far too convoluted and disjointed – overrun by a confusing mesh of boards, agencies and other organizations (many dating back to the 1895 Ben Tillman Constitution) that tends to lack clear lines of authority and accountability,” spokesman Ben Fox said. “South Carolina state government will find it that much harder to move into the next century as long it retains, and the status quo powers protect, this antiquated governance model.”

Some entities, such as the State Board of Education, the S.C. Arts Commission and the Commission for Minority Affairs, are well known, but there are plenty of lesser-known supervising bodies. They include:

  • The Board of Distribution of Dead Human Bodies. Comprised of professors of anatomy and surgery at South Carolina schools authorized by law to teach medical science, the board allows unclaimed bodies “to be used for the advancement of medical science.”
  • The State Board of Barber Examiners. Responsible for licensing all barbers, barbershops, barber colleges and instructors. Also responsible for conducting examinations of barbers and instructors. In addition, the board investigates complaints and provides discipline.
  • The Constitutional Ballot Commission. Examines each proposed amendment to the state Constitution. If an amendment is of such a nature that it might not be understood by voters, the commission must provide a more simplified or detailed explanation.
  • State Advisory Council on Erosion and Sediment Reduction.  Helps strengthen existing erosion and sediment-reduction and storm water-management programs for the protection of land and water resources.
  • S.C. Council on the Holocaust. In conjunction with the S.C. Department of Education, this group works to develop an educational program to prevent future atrocities similar to the World War II genocide of Jews and others by the Nazis. Designed to honor the survivors of the Holocaust and their descendants, and the South Carolinians and their descendants who participated in the liberation of concentration camps. The council also develops an appropriate program for an annual observance of the Holocaust.
  • Liquefied Petroleum Gas Board. Ensures laws governing liquefied petroleum gas are adhered to. Institutes proceedings for violators, and promulgates and enforces regulations covering design, construction, location, installation and operation of equipment related to liquefied petroleum gases.
  • Migrant & Seasonal Farm Workers Commission. Develops a statewide census of migrant and seasonal farm workers and determines the cost of supportive programs associated with such workers.
  • S.C. Perpetual Care Cemetery Board. Responsible for licensing all perpetual care cemeteries, ensuring compliance with state laws and regulations. Also inspects perpetual care cemeteries to ensure the maintenance and the administration of the perpetual care trust fund. Board issues disciplinary action when necessary.
  • Technical Advisory Radiation Control Council. Advises DHEC on matters pertaining to ionizing and non-ionizing radiation, and standards and regulations to be adopted, modified, promulgated, or repealed by the department. No standards or regulations may be adopted, modified, promulgated, or repealed by DHEC except after consultation with the council.
  • State Board of Pyrotechnic Safety. Assures compliance with state laws and regulations related to fireworks. Staff issues licenses to wholesale distributors, sellers and wholesale storage facilities; provides technical interpretations; performs inspections; receives complaints and performs investigations.

Given the relative obscurity of some of the above boards, it’s not surprising that they may seem neglected from time to time. The Board of Pyrotechnic Safety, for example, is supposed to have six members, but has only three at present and hasn’t had a new member appointed since 2002.

Not surprisingly with all the boards and commissions, there appears to be some overlap. Consider:

  • There’s a War Between the States Heritage Trust Commission and a War Between the States Heritage Trust Advisory Board.
  • There’s a Southern Regional Education Council, an S.C. Education Council and the S.C. Education Oversight Committee, in addition to the State Board of Education.
  • There’s the S.C. Public Service Commission and the Public Utilities Review Committee.
  • There’s the Retirement System Investment Commission and the S.C. Retirement and Pre-Retirement Advisory Board.

And it may seem as though you can’t swing a dead cat without hitting someone from a health-related board. There’s the Deans Committee on Medical Education; the S.C. Board of Medical Examiners; the Medical Disciplinary Commission of the Board of Medical Examiners; the Acupuncture Advisory Committee – Department of Labor Licensing and Regulation; the Respiratory Care Committee – Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation; the Anesthesiologists Assistants Committee – Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation; and the Physician Assistant Committee – Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation.

There are also boards for dentists, dietetics, long-term health care administrators, massage/bodywork therapists, nurses, occupational therapists, speech pathologists and pharmacists.

And then there are boards for optician examiners, optometrist examiners, podiatry examiners, physical therapy examiners, psychology examiners, chiropractic examiners, and, finally, examiners for licensing of professional counselors, marriage and family therapists, and psycho-educational specialists.

About all that’s missing is a state board to oversee the state’s boards and commissions.

Reach Dietrich at (803) 779-5022, ext. 110, or at kevin@thenerve.org.