The South Carolina Senate has passed a bill to make legislative roll-call voting a state law–and sponsor, Larry Martin (R-Pickens), overcame the will of some of the Senate’s most powerful members to get the bill to second reading.
Martin amended the bill back to the version preferred by Gov. Nikki Haley, which is the original House approach and would go into effect when signed by the governor. Roll-call voting requires senators to record their votes by name.
It became Haley’s signature cause in her campaign, yet according to senators like Jake Knotts (R-Lexington)– whom Haley once described as “arrogant” for opposing her original bill– that same bill is not expansive enough:
A handful of senators, led by President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell (R-Charleston), tried to stop the measure, calling it “illegal” because it violates the separation of powers doctrine in the Constitution. They argued vehemently that the bill would allow the House to dictate the rules of the Senate. However, Sen. Chip Campsen (R-Charleston) believes it’s likely that the law will end up in court.
Senators who opposed this statutory legislation just as passionately say they support roll call voting –but in the form of a constitutional amendment. Their issue, says Campsen, is keeping the balance of powers in check. McConnell says the “ends do not justify the means” in this case and Martin hurried this bill through.
Martin also raised the eyebrows of some of his colleagues by invoking cloture– a rare move to bring debate to a close faster.
Sen. Wes Hayes (R-York) retorted on Martin’s behalf: “Thank you for making that motion. I think we had gone to the point where we had all the substantive debate that we were going to have.”
Martin agreed and as amendments wound down, Kershaw Senator and former gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen talked Knotts out of fighting for another amendment, saying, “This train is moving on through.”