Palmetto Pride

Zero Tolerance for Litter

April 12, 2018 - 10:19 am

APRIL 12, 2018 BY RENEE SEXTON (South Carolina Radio Network)

Palmetto Pride celebrated its Zero Tolerance for Litter campaign Wednesday at the Statehouse in Columbia.

Gov. Henry McMaster awards the 2018 Litter Trashes Everyone art contest winners

“We want to encourage all law enforcement officers and agencies to enforce all litter violations, not just code enforcement or litter control officers,” Palmetto Pride Executive Director Sarah Lyles said. “So we really want people to be aware of littering when it happens.”

Lyles said some drivers do not realize that throwing a cigarette butt on the ground or allowing debris to fly out of a pickup truck bed is legally considered littering.

“We want to bring awareness to citizens that… simple things they’re doing like a pickup truck without their load properly secured contributes to litter on our roadways,” she said.

Lyles said focus groups have revealed enforcement is the most effective way to stop people from littering. A current bill making its way through the legislature would lower littering fines and define illegal dumping.Sponsors of the bill are concerned the current fines are so high that law enforcement officers are hesitant to write tickets and judges are tentative about fining them.

“We know that this bill will give better discretion to the officers and let them have more appropriate fines for the violations,” she said. “It also sets up to make illegal dumping its own offense. Illegal dumping needs to have a higher fine and this bill will do that.”

She said the proposal “takes existing law and sharpens the tools that officers need to enforce.”

Lyles said the law is modeled on a similar one passed in Georgia. It addresses the intent of the offender, defining what is intentional and what is accidental. “We’re trying to be realistic,” she said. “We want to make sure the fines match with the mindset.”

At the Statehouse ceremony Tuesday, finalists for the Palmetto Pride Litter Trashes Everyone annual art contest received their awards from Gov. Henry McMaster.

State finalists are: Bianca Kovalev from Fairforest Elementary, Nichole Davis from Fairfield Magnet School, Millie Jennings from Tigerville Elementary, Chanston Crosby from Richard-Carroll Elementary and LeVauge Pearson from Anderson Primary School.

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