South Carolina Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler is moving forward with the idea of restructuring state government — by dispatching a subcommittee to begin to take up bills to reorganize major state agencies.
The Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee will take up restructuring the Department of Health and Environmental Control and the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs, as well as a bill merging the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, and the Continuum of Care to form a new Department of Behavioral Health Services.Peeler says that this is major restructuring in the area of health care:
“I think quite frankly the time has passed and what we’re wanting to do is make government more efficient. Like I say, it will be open to debate and open to amendments throughout so hopefully we’ll come up with a product that the people of South Carolina can enjoy.” Listen to Sen. Peeler on restructuring
The Republican from Cherokee has appointed Senate Majority Whip Danny Verdin (R-Laurens) to chair that subcommittee. Its other members include David Thomas (R-Greenville), Ray Cleary (R-Georgetown), Darrell Jackson (D-Richland), and Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg).
Peeler says, “They are very active members of the Senate Medical Affairs Subcommittee and have always been leaders when it comes to health care issues on the committee and quite frankly I wanted their political DNA on these very important restructuring bills before it is taken up in full committee.”
The subcommittee will begin its work this Fall on proposals already filed in the state legislature. He says “We have three major restructuring bills in our committee dealing with the health care of our citizens and I would for like them to work immediately and do the due diligence on these three major pieces of legislation and bring a product to the full committee in January that we can take up in the 2010 legislative session.”
Two of the bills came from the House and are now in the Senate Medical Committee. Another bill that originated in the Senate, is authored by two Democrats.
“One is a Senate bill authored by Senator Leventis and Senator Courson. The Senate bill establishes DHEC as a cabinet agency with a secretary of Health and Environmental Control, appointed by the governor,” says Peeler.
The other two are House bills by Representative Jim Harrison. One would create a Department of Behavioral Health Services – a cabinet level agency merging the Department of Mental Health, the Department of Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse Services, and the Continuum of Care.
The other makes the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs a cabinet agency with a Secretary appointment by the Governor. The current DDSN Board would be an advisory board.
Senator Peeler says he expects all of these bills to generate plenty of debate, but he is ready, as he says, “to get government moving.”