In a bit of a surprise move Wednesday, House Speaker Jay Lucas reassigned previous House Ways and Means Committee chair Brian White, R-Anderson from his powerful position and reassigned him to a rank-and-file spot on a separate committee.
From his position chairing the Ways and Means Committee, White was the key lawmaker overseeing the House budget plan each year since 2012. He was notable for assembling proposals which normally passed the House in near-unanimous votes, including last year.
“The Speaker told me that the Republican Caucus was not happy with my leadership of the committee and that he wanted to make a change to the chairman who would carry out the caucus agenda,” White said in a final statement. Lucas then moved White to the House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee.
After the move, the incoming Ways and Means Committee elected State Rep. Murrell Smith, R-Sumter as White’s replacement. Smith has served in the House since 2001 and previously chaired the Health and Human Services budget subcommittee. The attorney was the only person to seek the chairmanship.
As chairman, Smith will also hold key spots on two statewide boards — the State Fiscal Accountability Authority and the Joint Bond Review Committee — which must approve any major state construction projects or borrowing.
State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, was elected first vice-chair of the committee, a tribute to her service as senior House lawmaker and
In other committee assignments, State Rep. Peter McCoy, R-James Island, was elected to lead the House Judiciary Committee. The Judiciary Committee considers any new criminal laws or other legal legislation. McCoy, also an attorney, previously co-chaired a study committee which investigated the ill-fated VC Summer nuclear expansion.