South Carolina Governor Nikki Haley is urging state senators to take up a government restructuring bill when they return next week, calling on legislators to give it a yes/no vote.
However, even the governor admits it won’t be that simple.
As this year’s session is technically over, both chambers plan to return in a Sine Die session next week to take up the budget, redistricting, and a few other bills that have already passed both houses. Since the restructuring bill has only passed the House, it would require a two-thirds vote to even take it up in the Senate.
Even if the Senate did add it to their agenda, there are more than 70 amendments currently attached. Most of those were added at the last minute last week by Democrats upset about a separate bill. Sen. Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) hinted Wednesday that the delay could continue if the House does not take up an early voting bill that Democrats want.
I think if early voting is held up, then the session’s not going to be extended further than just the budget and redistricting.
And then there is the bill itself. Haley has pushed for a reshuffling of state agencies out of the Budget and Control Board– a part-legislative, part-executive agency that controls most of the state’s bureaucracy– and into a new Cabinet-level Department of Administration. But the original bill also kept the Board in place to handle the state’s insurance and retirement systems, among other things.
In the 11th hour, the Senate unanimously passed an amendment that would abolish the Budget and Control Board completely. Instead, the remaining functions would split off into entirely new agencies, most notably creating the Public Employee Benefit Agency to handle the state’s insurance and retirement programs.
Haley said she did not support the move, clarifying that while she wants to eventually phase out the Board, the Senate proposal was not the way to do it.
You move things where they need to go, you don’t need to add additional agencies to fix these problems. What we do need to do is make sure that we’re smart, that it’s practical and, when we turn around and make sure that we’ve restructured, that we restructure in a way that the people feel it immediately.
Haley said she has asked for some “perfecting amendments” to the bill, which would add another wrinkle.
You will see me move to absolutely eliminate the Budget and Control Board. We’ve just got to make sure that everything goes to the right spot. We’ve got to make sure that we handle it properly. At the end of the day, that’s where I want it to go. We just need to make sure there’s a place for everything and that we don’t have the inmates running the asylum.
Haley would not answer when asked if she would sign the Senate’s version of the bill into law. She only reiterated that she expected perfecting amendments.
Hutto, for his part, said he had an “open mind” about debate on the bill– provided the Senate finished with the budget and redistricting first.
We have priorities that are greater, maybe, than what the governor’s priorities are. But, I’m not opposed to taking a look at (the bill), if there’s extra time left in that session. What I don’t want us to do is… I don’t want us running the session around the calendar. The Legislature is a part-time body.