Black lawmakers staged a walkout Thursday as the South Carolina House voted to approve a bill requiring state voters to show photo identification at polling places. The bill received key approval by a 65-14 vote following hours of contentious debate. Republicans said it’s an issue of voter integrity and security. Democrats contend it’s about suppressing the vote of the elderly, disabled and minorities.
Members of the Legislative Black Caucus called it a backlash against the election of President Barack Obama. Caucus chairman Representative David Weeks of Sumter County Republicans want to create road blocks for potential voters. ”Now exactly who are Republican poll watchers going to challenge? They are going to challenge people they think vote Democrat and so it’s obviously a part of their agenda for the year. They’ re not trying to make the process easier, they’re trying to tighten the process up as much as they can. That’s just the reality.”
Weeks and state NAACP President Lonnie Randolph say they will consider legal action if the bill passes the Senate.
The State Senate this week, in a bi-partisan bill, created a tax realignment commission plan. Republican Hugh Leatherman and Democrat Nikki Setzler decided to merge bills in the Senate Finance Committee, Setzler says, because they both felt strongly that the state’s entire tax structure needed a serious review.
Tuesday the State Department of Corrections gained approval from the Budget and Control Board to run a total of $39 million in budget deficits when the fiscal year ends in June. The Board also approved the Department of Juvenile Justice’s request to run at a deficit of $7.5 million dollars.