April 20, 2014

Legislative Update: January 25

— It appears the first big fight in the state Senate could be over yet another attempt to pass a government restructuring bill. Legislation that would create a new Department of Administration and give the legislature oversight of the governor’s Cabinet agencies is set to be taken up next week. But battle lines are already being drawn. It appears the hang-up is about procurement. Several lawmakers like as the powerful Sen. Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence) have said before they do not want that power solely under the governor’s control.

Members of a House committee investigating the Department of Revenue hack listen to testimony from SC Bankers Association CEO Fred Green Thursday

Members of a House committee investigating the Department of Revenue hack listen to testimony from SC Bankers Association CEO Fred Green Thursday

— Legislators on a House Judiciary panel advanced a bill that would expand the number of candidates who can be chosen for judgeships in South Carolina. Under current law, legislators must choose between no more than three candidates who are picked by the Judicial Merit Selection Commission. While the commission is appointed by the legislature (who also make up a majority of its 10 members), opponents say it also creates the impression that a small group controls the entire process. The bill now advances to the full Judiciary Committee next week.

— South Carolina’s banks will soon launch a network that enables them to detect fraud on the more than 1.1 million bank accounts that were exposed in the data breach at the Department of Revenue last fall. The CEO of the South Carolina Bankers Association Fred Green told legislators Thursday that the new system could be running by the end of the month. Banks were able to obtain those compromised account numbers in December via court order. If a customer reports or a bank detects fraud on a flagged account, banks and credit units across the state will be alerted in an effort to stop similar attempts on other compromised accounts.

— A House GOP panel studying possible changes to the state’s ethics laws has recommended that legislators no longer handle ethics complaints “in-house.” The Republican panel decided Thursday to draft legislation that would turn over any complaints to the State Ethics Commission. Legislators in both the House and Senate currently police themselves via the ethics committees in the various chambers. Those committees would still exist, but only for administrative purposes such as handling fines.