The state Senate adjourned after its first week without a vote on a Republican-backed resolution against the federal health care reform, which also voices the state’s right to sovereignty. Republican Senators have pushed a concurrent resolution to send a letter to Washington from the people of South Carolina.
Democrats argued all week that Republicans are wasting time making a blanket statement for the state’s people on a national issue, when it would be more appropriate for the Republican caucus to send a letter to Washington instead.
Orangeburg Democrat Brad Hutto helf the podium for much of session time Thursday for what had the appearance of a filibuster, but Hutto says no, that it’s just both parties working toward a compromise which he hopes will come Tuesday. Hutto says it’s also about the politics of working out the upcoming Senate schedule.
“The real issue is trying to structure the next few weeks of the Senate and making sure that the issues are meaningful,” says Hutto. “Sometimes you just have to talk until you can get an agreement on what the schedule is going to be.”
But Hutto says state lawmakers don’t need to spend time on a resolution concerning sovereignty. “South Carolina is a sovereign state,” he says. “We have our rights under the Tenth Amendment. We don’t need to pass a bill that says that. A lot of politics are involved and hopefully we’ll get down to address the issues affecting South Carolinians next week.”
Senate Republican leaders confirm that Republicans are also working on a comprimise so that they can take a vote on the issue and get down to other business as early as Tuesday. Senate Transportation Chairman Larry Grooms suggests that a specific scheduling item is to blame for the slow starting-week start. He says it’s a democratic attempt to delay voter I-D legislation.
Hutto says congress is dealing with national health care, not state lawmakers. He says it’s a distraction from what senators need to deal with. “The leftover issue that needs to be addressed is the cigarette tax,” he says, about the tobacco tax which the House passed a version of last year. Since this is the second year of a two-year session, the House bill is still active, awaiting Senate vote. “And the bills related to job creation and employment are the ones on the forefront.”
Jasper County Democrat Clementa Pickney says he knows that many Republicans are passionate about that resolution. “But we have a bad economy and we’re half-a-billion dollars short on the budget. Sending a resolutino to Washington that won’t amount to anything is a colossal waste of time. But we’re a deliberative body and we listen to everybody.”