Republicans in the South Carolina House on Tuesday announced their agenda for 2011 (review GOP House Agenda)in press conferences across the state. The House Republican Caucus is calling its platform the “Drive for 75,” based on the number of seats they hope to occupy in the next session. The GOP currently holds 72 seats in the Chamber – not counting the open seat caused by the death of Laurens County representative Bill Wylie over the summer.
At the State House in Columbia, House Speaker Bobby Harrell explained why leaders chose the 75 number:
This would be our party’s largest ever majority since first gaining the majority in 1994. This would give us the strongest ever force for reform that we’ve had in the House.
In a press conference at the State House, Harrell used the word “reform” quite a bit in his speech outlining the Caucus’s platform for the upcoming legislative year. He is among several lawmakers that hope voter backlash against government spending will allow them to move forward with several proposals that have stalled in the Senate in previous years.
The announcement is significant because House Republicans hold a majority in that Chamber. As a result, leaders are often able to pass legislation they support.
Party leaders listed five specific proposals for the upcoming year: spending caps for the state budget, on-the-record voting, requiring photo IDs for election voters, tougher immigration laws, and tort reform.
House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham said the House has been pushing for the spending caps for several years. He said the platform is based around three principles:
It’s about open government, it’s about fiscal conservatism, and it’s about the rule of law. All three of these are bedrock principles of our conservative philosophy.
After the conference, Harrell said the House also hopes to toughen an existing illegal immigration law to make it more like Arizona’s.
In the Arizona law, they’ve made it clear that you have to have identification and you have to have your papers with you. There are severe penalties if you have forged papers now. They basically just tightened it up, and our goal is to do the same.
South Carolina GOP Chair Karen Floyd also briefly spoke at the press conference. She said it was important for South Carolina Republicans to stand strong against a Democratic-controlled federal government.