A review of what’s making news in South Carolina state government.
South Carolina’s highest court says it will soon issue a ruling that would very likely determine who becomes the state’s next lieutenant governor.
The state Supreme Court canceled arguments which had been scheduled for Wednesday, saying all sides appear to be in agreement on the merits of the case. State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, had asked the court whether current Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster would be able to pick his replacement once he becomes governor — or if the Senate President pro tempore will automatically succeed him in the position — as has been state law.
At issue was a constitutional amendment approved by voters that would have had the governor choose the lieutenant governor starting in 2018, but the date was not included when the constitution itself was amended. Current Senate President Hugh Leatherman has already said he does not want the largely-ceremonial job.
But he could give up his position temporarily so State Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, could replace him and therefore become lieutenant governor. Bryant has indicated he would do this, if asked.
Tuesday’s announcement by the Supreme Court seems to indicate the justices plan to side with past precedent, since they did not hear arguments otherwise.
— Gov. Nikki Haley will be in Washington on Wednesday for her first Senate hearing as she hopes to become President-elect Donald Trump’s United Nations ambassador. During her appearance before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Haley plans to criticize the U.N. for its votes on Israel earlier this month. She’ll also likely answer questions related to her positions on Russia, where she disagrees or agrees with Trump and her relative lack of foreign policy experience.
— A House agriculture subcommittee rejected an attempt to revamp South Carolina’s dam laws, believing the restrictions would be too much of a burden on dam owners. The vote came after several property owners complained about the proposed regulations and the potentially expensive impact. Legislators have tried to make changes after more than 60 dams failed in heavy rain the past two years.
— South Carolina could soon require fewer standardized tests for its middle school students. The Education Oversight Committee voted 8-5 on Tuesday to slightly reduce the number of tests students take in science and social studies from grades 4-8. If legislators approve, the tests would alternate between both subjects every year instead of having one for each.
— Members of a House panel want more information on the potential costs of installing seatbelts on school buses before they proceed with proposed legislation that mandates them. The Motor Vehicle Subcommittee took up the proposal Tuesday, but adjourned debate until they could get more information. Only six other states require buses have seatbelts.
— A House transportation subcommittee unanimously passed a bill Tuesday afternoon that would allow trucks to follow each other much more closely, but only if they use an automated process known as “platooning.” The new technology links them to the trucks they’re following and relies on cameras, radar, and lasers, as well as the ability to link trucks’ accelerators and brakes. That way, if the technology on the lead truck spots a problem ahead, all the trucks would slow down or brake without the drivers having to take action. The measure now heads to the full House Education and Public Works Committee.
— Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman wants so-called “dark money” political groups to reveal their donors. The State newspaper reports Leatherman introduced a bill Tuesday that would require political groups to disclose information on their donors, including names and employers of donors who contribute a total of $1,000 or more. The bill would not limit the amount of money someone could donate to these third-party groups, but simply identify their donors. Leatherman was among those senators targeted by a political action committee with connections to Gov. Nikki Haley. That PAC would be among the groups required to disclose its donors, under his legislation.