They Admit It!


For over a year, the Policy Council has been pointing out an important provision in state law that lawmakers conveniently ignore every year. The law requires House and Senate budget committees to meet in “joint open hearings” to consider the governor’s budget (see section 11-11-90 here).

As far as we can discern – and we’ve asked people who worked for Govs. Sanford, Hodges, Beasley, Campbell, and Riley – these meetings have never occurred in modern South Carolina history. Governors’ budgets were either ignored (Sanford) or consisted in little more than a set of broad recommendations (Hodges, Beasley, et al.). As for the law’s requirement that the legislature treat the executive budget as “the budget” and begin proceedings on it in joint open hearings, lawmakers just don’t care.

(Indeed, some of them were, and perhaps still are, unaware of it.)

Well, a bill to create a Department of Administration has just been pre-filed for the 2013 session – a new version of a bill that was narrowly defeated last year. This new bill would, among many other things – it is a gigantic piece of legislation – explicitly delete the law’s requirement to meet in joint open hearings on the governor’s budget.

Of course, there are no plans to hold these hearings this year. So, assuming this bill moves forward, lawmakers will find themselves debating whether to delete a law they have just disregarded – admitting its existence and attempting its abolition while ignoring its force.

Very strange … very strange indeed!

If you’re interested in knowing more about the law (and we have to say:
it’s fascinating stuff), click here.

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