A look at the top news involving state government in South Carolina
Today it’s government restructuring.
A fight that’s occurred each legislative year under Gov. Nikki Haley (and began under her predecessor) is nearly over, after both the South Carolina House and Senate gave their approval Tuesday to the largest shift in state government agencies and offices in over 20 years. The governor applauded the bill, which heads to her desk by week’s end.
While the bill’s specifics may cause the eyes of non-politicos to glaze over, its results are significant in shifting the power structure of state government. S.22 creates a new Department of Administration to handle much of the state’s bureaucracy (such as building maintenance, human resources, and information technology) and eliminates the quasi-executive, quasi-legislative Budget & Control Board. Effectively, it puts the governor in charge of over a dozen additional agencies that currently operate independently inside the B&CB.
The legislation also shifts a half-dozen additional B&CB entities into independent commissions and authorities. These include the Confederate Relic Room and Museum and the Rural Infrastructure Authority. Procurement will fall under a new State Fiscal Accountability Authority (SFAA). The SFAA will be led by a commission that includes the Governor, State Treasurer, Comptroller General, and the House and Senate budget chairmen.
The bill also increases House and Senate oversight of Cabinet agencies and allows legislators to create investigative and standing committees to examine the agencies. It requires that any testimony given to these committees be under oath.
— On Tuesday, family and supporters of a 14-year-old black boy executed in 1944 argued in a Sumter County courtroom that the teen should be granted a new trial in order to clear his name. A lawyer representing the family claims there was not enough evidence to find George Stinney guilty and that he was coerced into confessing to the crimes. But the local solicitor doubted that it was wise to re-open the case, arguing any substantive evidence for either side had disappeared long ago.
— Officials who lead South Carolina’s child welfare agency will be facing hard questions from senators on Wednesday. The Senate hearing into the Department of Social Services comes a week after members of the public claimed that the agency’s priority of reducing its caseload may have directly led to the deaths of some children. Senators want DSS director Lillian Koller to testify Wednesday, but it’s not clear if that will happen. According to DSS staffers, Koller is on leave battling a medical issue and may not be able to appear before lawmakers.
— A Pickens County state legislator who avoided losing a re-election bid on a technicality two years ago has announced he will not be running again. State Rep. B.R. Skelton, R-Six Mile, said on the House floor Tuesday that he will not run for re-election this fall. The retired economics professor has represented House District 3 in the Clemson area for the past 11 years. Skelton barely held his seat in 2012, despite getting fewer votes than his opponent in the GOP primary. However, Skelton sued and was certified the winner, after the state Republican Party found the other candidate improperly filled out financial paperwork.