S.C Voters Favor Legalized Gambling, Medical Marijuana

When South Carolina voters went to the polls Tuesday, besides voting for the candidates running for office they also got to vote on some non-binding referendum questions. Republicans had two questions while the Democrats had three.

Republican voters said they favor extending the right to life to unborn children starting at conception, which would ban abortions if it were to become law. The actual question asked, "Should Article I, Section 3 of the South Carolina Constitution be amended to include the following language?

The privileges and immunities of citizens of South Carolina and the United States shall not be abridged, so that no person shall be deprived of life without due process of law, nor shall any person be denied the equal protection of the laws. These rights shall extend to both born and pre-born persons beginning at conception."

79 percent of Republican primary voters voted yes.

The second question for Republicans was whether the state income tax should be phased out completely. "Should South Carolina Law be amended to replace the state income tax imposed on individuals, estates, trusts, and others by reducing the rate of taxation by 1.4 percent each year until the state income tax rate for all brackets is zero percent?"

80 percent of Republican voters approved of that idea.

State Republican Party Chairman Matt Moore says the state would make up for the lost revenue in overall economic growth. "We would have huge growth in the state from businesses moving here. You look at Texas, you look at Florida, states without income taxes, and the huge growth they've had despite a tough economy the last ten years or so. We think the growth here would be huge," he says.

Sen. Katrina Shealy filed a bill this year that would have done that, and Gov. Nikki Haley supports it, but it didn't pass.

Democrats voted on whether states, not Congress, should decide whether to allow online gambling and how to regulate it. That passed with 72 percent of the vote.

Democratic voters also favored allowed the use of medical marijuana for people with chronic, severe illnesses documented by a doctor. That passed with 81 percent of the vote.

And 75 percent of voters in the Democratic primary said the state should legalize gambling as a way to raise new money to fix roads and bridges.

Rep. James Smith, D-Columbia, says House Democrats will come up with a bill next year to try to do that.

"Obviously overwhelmingly supported in the Democratic primary, but I hear a lot from independents and Republicans who see that as something we ought to think about," he says.

Since the referendum questions were non-binding, this was basically an opinion poll. But leaders of both parties say the numbers give them a much better idea of voters' feelings than an opinion poll because of the numbers involved.

Around 290,000 people voted on the Republican questions and more than 114,000 voted on the Democratic ones.


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