Time ran out in the South Carolina Senate on a bipartisan bill to reshuffle state government operations, prompting the governor to call the General Assembly back into session.
There is a handful of reasons that time ran out on restructuring bills, including four weeks of filibusters on the budget, a renewed Amazon deal push… and some plain ol’ politics.
That includes some leftover issues from the fight over the new voter ID law.
Senate Democrats filibustered the bill that requires certain photo IDs to vote. They said it disenfranchises about 178,000 voters who don’t have driver’s licenses or DMV-issued photo IDs. Democrats reached a compromise to include early voting in the measure.
The House stripped that out in the conference committee, however, promising Sen. John Scott (D-Columbia) that they would honor early voting in a separate measure.
The Senate fast-tracked early voting during its budget debate, tacking it on as an amendment to an absentee voting bill. However, on the final day of session, that bill languished in the House.
At the same time, the governor’s prize bill to establish state government restructuring was running out of time in the Senate. African-American Democrats, still stung by what they see as a Jim Crow-type law, saw their chance.
Senator Darrell Jackson (D-Richland) said, “I’ve waited since the day we passed voter ID. I knew that this day would come. I’ve been around long enough to anticipate that, so I am prepared to talk until five.”
In spite of Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler’s pleading, Scott and others would not pull down their amendments to the bill before them, ensuring that time would run out.
From there, the governor called for lawmakers to reconvene to finish the bill. It is unclear how the Senate will handle the stall over House inaction on the early voting bill.
Rep. Gilda-Cobb Hunter says, “Senator Scott is within his right to object because the House refuses to take up early voting. I don’t know what the governor thinks is going to happen.”