One of the most outspoken Democrats in the South Carolina legislature revealed this weekend he will not seek re-election in 2016.
State Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland, announced his plans in an op-ed submitted to The State newspaper on Sunday. Lourie has represented the Senate’s northeast Columbia seat District 22 for 11 years. Prior to that, he served in the state House of Representatives for six years before that.
“I enjoy serving in the Senate and working for the betterment of our state,” Lourie wrote. “Every day is an adventure, and to be part of it is truly exhilarating. However, I never intended to stay in office for 25 or 30 years. I have great respect for those who do, but there are other things I would like to do in my life, both personally and professionally.”
Lourie was often a vocal thorn in the side of majority party Republicans during his 11 years in the Senate and was not afraid to directly call out GOP leaders or the governor. In his op-ed, he specifically named three bills he helped pass that barred daycares from driving 15-passenger vans, improved autism insurance coverage, and created tougher requirements for convicted DUI drivers. He was also the only Democrat on a Senate subcommittee that investigated and revealed serious problems at the state Department of Social Services. The committee’s work eventually led to previous DSS director Lillian Koller’s resignation and an overhaul of the agency which oversees child welfare in South Carolina.
He is the son of the late State Sen. Isadore Lourie, who represented the Midlands in the Statehouse for 27 years. The younger Lourie is an insurance broker in his private life.
“I am very grateful for the opportunity to serve my community and look forward to my final year of service,” Lourie continued. “I want to take this opportunity to say thank you to the people of Richland and Kershaw counties for having the confidence and trust in me to be your voice of reason at the State House. I love my state, and I will always look for ways to give back and make it better.”