Roll Call Voting Not Required for All Budget Sections

H.4400 and H.4401 would remove the roll-call requirement for certain legislative votes. Under the bills legislators would be able to vote on up to ten budget sections, or ten sections worth of budget vetoes in one vote. This 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. Voting on multiple budget sections at once would also deprive some legislators of votes they would otherwise make. Conflict of interest problems could force 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.

The essential point is this: that 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 – and current lawmakers ought to be finding ways to build on that achievement, not roll it back.

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