News from the Executive Branch
Governor Nikki Haley was confirmed by the United States Senate on Tuesday as the Ambassador to the United Nations. Upon her confirmation, Haley resigned as governor and Henry McMaster was elevated to the Governor’s Office. Governor McMaster was sworn into office by Supreme Court Chief Justice Don Beatty on Tuesday evening. McMaster will fill the remainder of Haley’s term and is up for reelection in 2018.
News from the House of Representatives
Representative Chris Corley (R-Graniteville) resigned effective immediately from the House on Tuesday. Corley’s resignation triggers a special election to fill the vacancy in House District 84. The primary will be held on Tuesday April 11 and the special election will be on Tuesday, May 30, 2017.
House Rule Changes
The House adopted four new rule changes on Wednesday. Rule 5.12 was amended to say that no bill or joint resolution from the Senate shall be considered unless received by April 10th in the House. Such bill or joint resolution shall be placed on the Calendar for further consideration if two-thirds of the members present and voting agree to waive the rule. Any bill or joint resolution failing to receive the required vote shall be returned to the appropriate committee.
Rule 4.16 revised the duties of the House Ethics Committee regarding determining compliance with disclosure requirements. The Ethics Committee shall ascertain whether a person has failed to comply fully and accurately with disclosure requirements, which may include an audit of filed reports and applicable campaign bank statements, and to promptly notify the person to file the necessary notices and reports to satisfy the requirements of the law. The committee is able to refer any complaint except for a complaint regarding a violation of the rules of the House to the State Ethics Commission for investigation.
The House also amended Rule 5.3B which relates to the General Appropriations and Supplemental Appropriations Bills and germaneness and amendments related to these bills. The rule provides that if an amendment to either of these bills identifies unspent projected revenue or balance as the funding source, the Speaker must consult with the Office of Revenue and Fiscal Affairs and confirm the existence of sufficient unspent revenue or balance before the House may consider the amendment.
Rule 5.14 of the House was amended to delete the requirement that a report of a Committee on Conference or Free Conference concerning the General Appropriations Bills, Supplemental Appropriations Bills for the ordinary expenses of State Government shall be considered until such report has been printed in the House Journal. The rule change did not affect the requirement for the conference report to be made available online to the public for at least twenty-four hours before the report is considered.
Secretary of Transportation
The House approved a bill by Education and Public Works Chairwoman Rita Allison on Thursday relating to the duties of the Secretary of Transportation. The bill deletes the requirement that the Secretary of Transportation must evaluate and approve the routine operation and maintenance requests or emergency repairs that are needed for existing roads and bridges that are not included in the Statewide Transportation Improvement Program. The bill also removes the requirement that the Secretary must provide a report on requests for the routine operation and maintenance or emergency repairs to the Department of Transportation Commission and that the Commission must approve these reports. The bill received second reading on Thursday and approval for third reading on Friday. The bill will be sent to the Senate for its consideration next week.
Workers’ Compensation Payments
On Thursday the House gave second reading to a bill by Representative Craig Gagnon regarding payments of workers’ compensation. The legislation provides that an employer’s representative shall make payment of compensation by means of check or electronic payment system including, but not limited to, an electronic funds transfer, a direct deposit, debit card, or similar payment system if such payments are made in accordance with the policies, procedures, or regulations as provided by the Workers’ Compensation Commission. The bill received unanimous approval for third reading on Friday and will be sent to the Senate.
House Budget Schedule
The House Ways and Means Committee has released the following tentative schedule for budget deliberations.
- January 31-February 2: Budget Subcommittee Meetings
- February 7-9: Budget Subcommittee Meetings
- February 14-16: Proviso Subcommittee Meeting
- February 20-23: Full Ways & Means Committee Budget Deliberations
- February 28-March 2: Appropriation Bill Printed
- March 7-9: Printed Appropriation Bill placed on House Members’ desks
- March 13-16: House Floor Budget Deliberations
News from the Senate
Henry McMaster’s ascension to the Governor’s Office on Tuesday created a vacancy in the office of the Lieutenant Governor. Prior to Nikki Haley’s resignation as Governor, the President Pro Tempore of the Senate, Hugh Leatherman, resigned from the position. By doing so Leatherman was able to remain in the Senate and not become the new Lieutenant Governor. On Wednesday the Senate elected Senator Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson) as the new Senate President Pro Tempore and thus the new Lieutenant Governor. The Senate then held a new election to fill the role of President Pro Tempore. Senator Hugh Leatherman and Senator Harvey Peeler ran for the position with Senator Leatherman prevailing by a vote of 28-16.
A special election to fill the vacancy in Senate District 3 (Anderson) will be held on May 30, 2017. The primary will be held on Tuesday, April 11 and filing for the position begins on Friday, February 10.
After consulting with the Senate Standing Committee Chairmen, the President Pro Tempore announced the following state agencies for Oversight Review in 2017: Adjutant General, Aeronautics Commission, Commission for the Blind, Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, Patriots Point Authority, Rural Infrastructure Authority, Commission on Higher Education, Secretary of State, and the Department of Commerce. The South Carolina Restructuring Act of 2014 provided a framework for systematic oversight of government agencies by the General Assembly.
Senate Budget Schedule
The Senate Finance Committee has tentatively set the following weeks for budget deliberations.
- March 21-23: Full Senate Finance Committee Budget Deliberations
- April 4-6: Senate Floor Budget Deliberations