The South Carolina Senate has overridden Governor Mark Sanford’s veto of a bill to restructure the State Ports Authority. The most contentious feature of the new statute is that the governor is now prevented from firing state Ports Authority Members–at will. It also mandates that members of the ports board have certain business or industry-based qualifications, experience or expertise.
Berkeley Senator Larry Grooms doggedly pushed the measure through, saying that it gives the state access to high-quality jobs.
“We have to grow our jobs and the the way we can is to play to our strengths and the greatest strength that we once had was our ports authority and I want to restore that strength. I want it to be the job creator that it once was,” says Grooms.Opponents to the bill, besides the governor, say that it puts the Senate in charge of the ports.
Charleston Senator Glenn McConnell praised Grooms and the passage of the bill, by saying, “This vote that’s coming up is the one big chance we’ve got to take one of our great natural and state-created resources, the Ports Authority, and try to give it a fresh start and an opportunity to reinvigorate our economy.”
The new law sets up requirements to sell certain port properties amd requires oversight of expenditures and the performance of the State Ports Authority leadership.
McConnell says it’s a new direction for the ports, “To create jobs and to create an opportunity and a hope for this state. A hope in Jasper by requiring them to move forward. A hope in Charleston and the other ports that a new Port Authority, reaching out to the world, will run it like a business and creat jobs like a business and create prosperity for our people.”
Gov. Mark Sanford immediately responded with a press statement calling the bill “lip service.” He says, ” Taking that authority away will make our State Ports Authority less accountable and less transparent, and will make our state less competitive as a result. ”