September 2, 2015

McConnell says he will stay in Lt. Gov’s post through end of session

Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell says he is willing to stay in office until the Senate adjourns for the year

Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell says he is willing to stay in office until the Senate adjourns for the year

Lieutenant Governor Glenn McConnell now says he will delay his resignation until the current General Assembly’s session officially comes to a close later this month.

McConnell is changing his original plans to leave his post on Thursday, saying he did not want to throw the Statehouse into chaos with his departure. “I’m not going to leave the state in a constitutional crisis,” McConnell told The State newspaper Thursday.

McConnell accepted an offer to become the president at the College of Charleston (CofC) in March. McConnell, a CofC graduate, previously planned to resign from his position this week to avoid a potential conflict of interest in a bill that would establish a new research university in connection with the school. As president of the state Senate, McConnell can determine who speaks during the debate and could also cast a deciding vote in the event of a tie.

If he leaves, the state constitution requires the Senate President Pro Tempore to become the lieutenant governor. But the man holding the position, Sen. John Courson, R-Richland, did not want to give up his seat for the mostly ceremonial post. Courson resigned his leadership position on Wednesday to avoid the potential career-ending move. Courson is still an acting senator.

That created a problem — as the lieutenant governor’s or president pro tem’s signature is required when bills are ratified and sent to the governor. Without either man in office, there was a question of how the budget and dozens of other pieces of legislation could become law without that signature. One senator even accused McConnell of organizing the dysfunction to punish Courson for opposing the CofC bill.

The Senate has no plans to elect a new president pro tempore during the current session, according to Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens.

McConnell says he will remain lieutenant governor until all current bills are ratified, but will assume duties at his alma mater starting July 1. He hoped senators would finish work by June 19.

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