Updated on January 27, 2015 by South Carolina Policy Council
. . . AND KILLS A TERRIBLE ONE During the first day of organizational session on December 2, the House voted on and approved a package of 15 rule changes presented by the Ad Hoc Committee on House Rules and Procedures. A proposed rule change that would have required all citizens testifying before the General …
Every lawmaker in South Carolina seems to support roll call voting. And for good reason. Citizens have a fundamental right to know how their representatives are voting. Still, legislators continue to voice objections to roll call voting and the Senate has yet to pass a statutory roll call voting requirement.
As the 119th session of the General Assembly begins, roll call voting remains a hot button issue. Of the 11 bills currently before the General Assembly, we’ve identified five of the most pertinent.
In 2009 and 2010, the House and Senate combined only recorded 25 percent of their votes. Significant laws that didn’t receive a recorded vote in the Senate range from multimillion dollar economic incentives deals to the creation of new state agencies to the imposition of new fees and regulatory burdens. Meanwhile, South Carolina has one of highest unemployment rates in the nation, virtually no economic growth over the past 10 years, and an educational system that is failing our state’s children. You be the judge as to whether these laws were important enough to receive a roll call vote.
Each year we review the best and worst ideas taken up during the legislative session, focusing on those bills that will either make South Carolina more free and more prosperous or less free and less prosperous. In the spirit of offering some constructive advice to the General Assembly, here are 7 good ideas for reform in 2011.
Advocates of good government in South Carolina have long recognized that the state’s governing structure is outdated, inefficient and not transparent. At the root of the problem is a concentration of legislative power that permits the General Assembly to inordinately influence executive and judicial branch functions—in particular, through the Legislature’s power over hundreds of executive and judicial appointments. In addition, the Legislature’s long session facilitates control by the legislative leadership over executive branch duties while a lack of recorded votes frustrates accountability and transparency.
This memorandum addresses, specifically, whether S.C. House Bill H. 3047 (hereinafter “H 3047”) is constitutional and, more generally, whether the changes to the method of recording votes in both houses of the South Carolina General Assembly are constitutional.
In 2008, the South Carolina Policy Council (SCPC) released research showing that the S.C. General Assembly passed bills with a recorded vote only 5 percent of the time. In January 2009, both bodies adopted rules changes: