The Senate used the second week of the legislative session for committee work. The full Senate will begin meeting this week. Here are a few highlights of last week’s committee action and a few things I expect to come up this week:
SHOULD THE STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF EDUCATION BE ELECTED OR APPOINTED? – There has been a good bit of discussion over the past few years about allowing the governor to appoint the state Superintendent of Education rather than having that person elected statewide. Making that change, though, would require a constitutional amendment.
Last week, a Senate Judiciary subcommittee approved S. 137, a resolution proposing a constitutional amendment to make the position an appointed one. The full Judiciary Committee will consider that resolution on Tuesday. If 2/3 of the Senate and 2/3 of the House of Representatives agree to the change, the proposal will go before voters at the general election in November 2018.
If the constitution is changed to allow the governor to appoint the Superintendent of Education, it is important that we have qualifications in place to the give the governor guidance in making that appointment. Last week, a Senate Education subcommittee approved S. 27, a bill that would require the appointed Superintendent to have extensive experience in public education, finance, economics, accounting, law, or business. The full Education Committee will consider this legislation on Wednesday.
LOCAL GOVERNMENTS REQUIRING EMPLOYEE BENEFITS – There have been several local governments across the country that have begun requiring private employers to provide specific benefits to employees – minimum wage, health insurance, time off from work, etc. While there are a few reasons to be concerned about this trend, having a hodge-podge of laws across the state with counties and municipalities requiring different things would deal a devastating blow to South Carolina’s pro-business image.
To combat that trend, a Senate subcommittee last week approved S. 218 , a bill that would prohibit local governments from imposing these requirements on private businesses. The Senate Labor, Commerce & Industry Committee will discuss the bill later this week.
WHO’S GOING TO BE LT. GOVERNOR? – The U.S. Senate held a confirmation hearing for Gov. Nikki Haley to be U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations last week. Most people expect her to be confirmed for that position this week. When Gov. Haley becomes UN Ambassador, Lt. Governor Henry McMaster will become governor.
Last week, the Supreme Court made clear what nearly everyone already understood: the President Pro Tempore of the Senate is next in line to become Lt. Governor. The current President Pro Tempore, Sen. Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence), has said he will not fulfill that constitutional duty. Therefore, the Senate will likely have to elect a new President Pro Tempore, who will then become Lt. Governor. The Post & Courier wrote an editorial about this game of musical chairs on Sunday. I think it’s pretty spot-on.
I expect this to play out this week. Stay tuned.
WHAT ISSUES ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU? – I have received several emails over the past week from folks sharing what they believe should be legislative priorities for the new session. I would really appreciate your input as to what the General Assembly should focus on this year. If you have thoughts, questions, or concerns about issues facing South Carolina, please let me know.
Last Week’s Meetings
On Wednesday, I was in Columbia for two subcommittee meetings dealing with workforce development legislation and reviewing proposed regulations.
On Wednesday afternoon, I participated on a legislative panel for the South Carolina Chamber of Commerce’s “Business Speaks” day at the statehouse.
On Thursday, I chaired a subcommittee considering a constitutional amendment to allow the governor to appoint the state Superintendent of Education.
On Friday, I attended the inauguration of President Donald Trump in Washington, D.C. This was the 6th presidential inauguration I have attended. If you have never attended an inaugural, I encourage you to make the trip to witness one of these ceremonies in the future.
TOWN HALL MEETINGS – I have held around 130 town hall meetings throughout our district over the past 9 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 February and March. I’ll get the schedule out soon.
WANT TO SEE THE GENERAL ASSEMBLY IN ACTION? – The Senate meets in statewide session on Tuesdays at 2:00, Wednesdays at 12:00, and Thursdays at 11:00. Committees and subcommittees meet Tuesday mornings, Wednesday mornings, and Thursday mornings. You can watch live coverage of the Senate, House of Representatives, and committees here.
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, or encourage them to sign up for the updates at www.senatormassey.com.