Founded in 1995, the South Carolina Progressive Network (SCPN) is a “coalition of advocacy groups and individual activists from across the state who have joined forces to promote social and economic change in South Carolina.” SCPN opposes the death penalty, conducts voter-registration drives in low-income and minority neighborhoods, sponsors ongoing anti-war vigils, and holds regular meetings of the Socialist Education Project.
Among SCPN’s major Policy Issues are the following:
The “Clean Election” Campaign: This would permit only public tax dollars to finance the campaigns of candidates running for political office; candidates would agree to spending limits and pledge not to take private donations.
Additional Voting Reforms: SCPN seeks to allow voters to register as late as nine days prior to election day; to establish Early Voting Locations where all registered voters can cast their ballots nine days prior to the general election; to allow polling places “to be run by 16- [to] 17-year-olds under the supervision of an adult poll manager”; to permit voters to cast “provisional ballots” even if they go to the wrong polling location; and to implement “Motor Voter” policies whereby all citizens are automatically registered to vote when they obtain or renew their driver’s licenses.
Criminal Justice: SCPN alleges that “people of color are targets of racial profiling”; supports legislation that would “identify patterns of racial profiling by requiring all cops to report all stops”; supports legislation mandating that private companies pay inmates at least the minimum wage for jobs that involve manufacturing and interstate commerce; and opposes the privatization of medical care for inmates.
Environmental Accountability: “Poor, rural and communities of color have borne the brunt of pollution in this state,” says SCPN. “The Environmental Accountability Act would require DHEC [Department of Health and Environmental Control] to provide public notice before granting permits to pollute, and to check the past environmental record of applicants.”
Education Equity: “The Education Equity Act will require the state to provide equal and adequate funding for all K-12 students in the state. … Funding disparities [currently] range from $2,000 for some students in poor minority neighborhoods to $10,000 for those in wealthy communities.”
Women’s Issues: SCPN supports the Fair Pay Act, which “would require all employers of five or more people to pay women and minorities the same wage as white males for the same work.” “If women were paid eqitably,” says SCPN, “it would cut by half the number of women and children living in poverty in South Carolina.”
Living Wage Campaign: SCPN “supports campaigns to require state and local governments to pay a living wage to their employees.”
The SCPN Executive Committee includes Co-Chairwoman Donna DeWitt, who is also the President of the State AFL-CIO; Co-Chairman Joe Neal, a member of the South Carolina House of Representatives and past Chairman of the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus; Vice-Chairwoman Renee Carter, who is active in the National Organization For Women (NOW) and sits on Planned Parenthood‘s Board of Directors; Vice Chairman Bert Easter, who also serves as Chairman of the South Carolina Gay and Lesbian Pride Movement; and Director Brett Bursey, who is also a Director of Natural Guard, a leftist environmental and social justice resource organization.
SCPN coalition members include the A. Phillip Randolph Institute; the AFL-CIO; the Alliance for Full Acceptance; the Association of Progressive Campaigners; the Beaufort County Coalition for Choice; the Carolina Peace Resource Center; the Coalition of Black Trade Unionists; the Collaborative for Community Trust; Common Cause of South Carolina; Eastern Cherokee, Southern Iroquois and United Tribes of South Carolina; Environmentalists, Inc.; Food Not Bombs; Grassroots Leadership; Hilton Head for Peace; Inmates, Families, Friends — One Network Ladder for Your Support; the League of Women Voters; the Malcolm X Grassroots Movement for Self-Determination; the Methodist Federation for Social Action; the Metropolitan Community Church of Columbia; the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People; the Natural Guard Fund; Parents, Friends & Families of Lesbians & Gays (PFLAG); Planned Parenthood; the South Carolina Coalition to Abolish the Death Penalty; South Carolina Environmental Watch; South Carolina Fair Share; South Carolina Forest Watch; the South Carolina Gay & Lesbian Pride Movement; the South Carolina Legislative Black Caucus; the South Carolina National Organization for Women; South Carolinians for Drug Law Reform; Thinking People; and UNITE!.