COLUMBIA, S.C. - A "surcharge" on the sale of adult magazines - in reality, a tax on them - has been rejected by the South Carolina Senate as it began its debate on the 2009 budget on Tuesday ... and the reason for the rejection says volumes about the interest in adult material in the state.
According to a story posted on the Greenville Online Website, senators voted not to consider the suggestion by Sen. Mike Fair (R-Greenville) of a 20 percent "surcharge" on magazines depicting frontal nudity - everything from Sports Illustrated's swimsuit issue to Playboy to Hustler and beyond - because it "had the potential to reach half the state's population," and that "Senate rules prohibit a member from placing a tax increase in the budget if it might affect at least 50 percent of South Carolinians."
So apparently, the sense of the South Carolina Senate is that at least half the population of the state reads magazines featuring some form of frontal nudity - which, considering national sales figures for sexually-oriented magazines, is probably right on the money.
Speaking of money, the surcharge was estimated by Fair to bring in $385,000, which would have been earmarked for electronic monitoring for sex offenders, even though no scientific evidence conclusively links the magazines to the offenders.
However, Gov. Mark Sanford has suggested that the legislators should reallocate money slated for local building and tourism projects, new regional farmer's markets and some reserves held by the state's Budget and Control Board, which would free up $50 million that could be redirected to the Corrections and Commerce Departments, and to shore up reserves for the state's Medicaid services, allowing no cuts to be made in those budgets.