H.3178 – Voting on Multiple Budget Bill Sections
H.3178 would remove the roll-call requirement for certain legislative votes. Legislators would be able to vote on up to ten budget sections. However, members would be able to record their individual vote if they so choose. At any rate, this bill would largely defeat the purpose of the roll-call voting requirement, which is to ensure citizens know how their legislators voted on any one particular measure. Conflict of interest problems would make it more difficult for legislators who have financial interest in one of the sections (a pharmacist who receives Medicaid funds, for example, would have an interest in the HHS budget) to abstain from voting on bundled sections of the budget.
Lawmakers do not have the right to hide their votes. South Carolina citizens finally forced members of the General Assembly to record their votes in 2011 – it was the first time in many years that citizens rose en masse to put a stop to one component of legislative hegemony in South Carolina. Current lawmakers ought to be finding ways to build on that achievement, not roll it back.