A South Carolina Senate committee unanimously approved legislation Tuesday that would reform how regulations become law in South Carolina.
Under current law, agencies have to submit any proposed regulations to the state legislature, whose members then have 120 days to approve or reject it. If the body does not act, the proposed regulations automatically become law.
Senate President pro tempore Glenn McConnell (R-Charleston) says 18 regulations took effect last year in such a manner. 29 sets went into effect the year before. He was upset because many contained new fees and fines, “The role of writing laws must be done by those who are answerable to the public and not by unelected bureaucrats with a singular special interest,” he said.
Due to the convoluted nature and tradition of the Senate, many regulations make it to the floor, but can be held up by a single senator who has the ability to block a bill from coming to a vote. A super-majority vote can end the hold, but senators rarely employ that tactic.
As a result, many proposed regulations clear committee but become law without a formal vote by either the Senate or the House. Many legislators say they are frustrated to find a regulation they never even considered has become law.
“How many times do you have to eat in a restaurant and somebody comes up to you and says ‘why did y’all do this?’ and you don’t know a thing about it?” Sen. Jake Knotts (R-Lexington) asked fellow Judiciary Committee members.
As written now, the bill would require the House and Senate to immediately act on any regulations once the 120-day window closes. However, Sen. Brad Hutto (D-Orangeburg) and others say they want to tweak the language to ensure that the regulations will actually come up for a vote, and not sent to committee to die from inaction.
The bill now heads to the full Senate.
South Carolina Radio Network’s Tripp Girardeau contributed to this report