Sine (sign ah) die (die ee) is Latin for without day. In the modern legislative lexicon the term means without any future date designated. By statute, the South Carolina Legislature must adjourn sine die no later than the first Thursday in June, except when an extension is initiated by a two-thirds vote of both the House and Senate.
With the anticipated fight over the State Budget with the inclusion of $350 million in federal stimulus dollars Governor Sanford refuses to apply for, state legislators are looking at working overtime to get their work done. The Senate Thursday passed a resolution that originated in the House that would officially end the session on May 21st, with the stipulation by agreement of the Senate President Pro Tem and Speaker of the House that the two bodies meet beginning June 16 for a maximum period of three days.
Pickens County Senator Larry Martin says the “sine die” statute passed years ago in order to bring the legislative session to an orderly close. “A number of years ago the Legislature routinely met well into the summer and had a very difficult time bringing the session to a close. Issues kept bubbling to the top and there was no ending point, so a statute was passed that required us to adjourn by the first Thursday in June and we could extend that under certain limited circumstances for a period of time.”
With legislative budgets exhausted, lawmakers will have to come “out of pocket” to return in June.
Martin says the General Assembly needs the extra time to focus only on specific items of legislation of great importance including the State Budget. “We cannot take up unlimited calendar issues. We have to take up the General Appropriations Bill, the issues we’ve got to finish, including any vetoes on the General Appropriations Bill and then we would have completed this legislative session.”Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell says giving lawmakers time to return to work on legislative matters would also keep the Governor from naming people to boards and commissions before the Senate reviews their qualifications.