Here are the highlights from 3rd week of the 2013 session in the Senate –
ELECTION LAW REFORM – The Senate gave final approval to S.2, a bill designed to correct the mistake that led to more than 200 candidates being prevented from running for offices statewide last year. The bill would
– require both incumbents and challengers to file a Statement of Economic Interests (SEI) on-line by March 30 each year;
– provide that the failure to file a SEI by March 30 results in a fine rather than preventing the candidate from appearing on the ballot; however, if the candidate has not filed a SEI by the date of the election, the candidate would not be able to take office. The idea here is to avoid the “death penalty” for those candidates who inadvertently fail to file the SEI.
– ensure that local and General Assembly candidates submit their Statement of Intention of Candidacy forms at the appropriate county election commission instead of having to make arrangements with local political party leadership
You can read the bill here. The bill has now gone to the House of Representatives for consideration.
DEER BAITING – Last week I told you about S.91, a bill that would allow baiting for deer statewide. The problem here is that state law allows much of the Low Country to use corn to bait deer while prohibiting that practice for most of the Upstate. In our district, hunters in Aiken and Lexington Counties can bait; hunters in Edgefield, McCormick, and Saluda cannot.
Last year, the Attorney General issued an opinion that the law actually does not prohibit hunting for deer over bait in the Upstate. That set off a good bit of debate among hunters and the Department of Natural Resources, and it has led to attempts to clarify the law.
On Thursday, the Senate passed S.91. It now goes to the House for consideration.
GOVERNMENT RESTRUCTURING – My updates last year focused a good bit on legislation that would restructure South Carolina’s government. The idea is to abolish the Budget & Control Board, a 5-member board that runs much of state government, and shift those duties to a new, cabinet-level Department of Administration. It would prohibit agencies from deficits without General Assembly approval (yeah, that actually happens), and it would require the legislature to conduct oversight of executive agencies.
I have been a frequent critic of the Budget & Control Board over the past several years. In my view, the Budget & Control Board acts as a shadow government, allowing state agencies to run deficits, making executive decisions that should be left to the Governor, and usurping essential legislative functions.
I chaired a subcommittee that considered S. 22, the South Carolina Restructuring Act of 2013. Last week the Senate Judiciary Committee approved the bill and sent it to the full Senate for consideration.
As you might expect, there’s a good bit of opposition to this bill. Many people have become extremely powerful under the existing, inefficient system of government, and they’re not willing to give up that power without a fight. That fight is coming, and it is a fight worth having. For a brief overview of the bill, why we need it, and the opposition’s tactics, take a look at this editorial from The State.
SHAKING THINGS UP – When I ran for the Senate in 2007 and 2008, I said I intended to work hard to shake up Columbia. What did I mean by that? Well, the Budget & Control Board is a big part of the status quo that has been holding South Carolina back for decades. Lots of entrenched politicians have become powerful – and comfortable – in the way we’ve always done things. I’ve been fighting those interests since I arrived in Columbia, and those fights tend to have consequences. Here is a good article from The State that talks about my fight to prevent deficit spending and to abolish the Budget & Control Board . . . and a couple of the repercussions.
But don’t worry, folks: I’m not about to be quiet. I may sit in the back row, but I refuse to hold my tongue. I’ll keep fussing about inefficient, wasteful, and irresponsible government, and I’ll keep offering ways to make South Carolina better.
TOWN HALL MEETINGS – I have held over 60 town hall meetings throughout our district over the past 4 years, and I really appreciate the hundreds of folks who have participated. These town hall meetings give me a chance to keep you updated about what’s going on in Columbia and, more importantly, allow me to hear what’s on your mind. I’m already working on the next round of meetings, which I hope to schedule for late February and early March. I’ll get the schedule out soon.
OUR SENATE DISTRICT – Senate district 25 consists of all of Edgefield County and parts of Aiken, Lexington, McCormick, and Saluda Counties. If you’d like to see the district map, go here.
SPEAKING WITH GROUPS – Several groups, clubs, and classes around our Senate district have invited me to attend their meetings and provide legislative updates. If you would like for me to come speak with your group, please let me know.
EMAIL UPDATES – If you know of people in or around District 25 who do not receive my updates but would like to get them, please email their names and email addresses to me. You can also forward this email to them and encourage them to sign up for the updates at www.senatormassey.com.