Even before the full South Carolina Senate met in its first session Tuesday, a panel quickly met to advance a bill that would address appointments made by the governor while they were out of session.
The bill was crafted after the state Supreme Court ruled the governor has the right to make interim appointments without the Senate’s approval if the legislature is not in session, even if the same person was nominated while senators were still in last year’s session. The Senate sued Governor McMaster to block his appointment of former attorney general Charlie Condon to be chairman of state-owned utility Santee Cooper’s board.
Senators agreed that McMaster had the authority to make a recess appointment, but argued it could not be Condon since senators had already begun considering his nomination last year and had not acted when the session ended. While Condon was vetted by a Senate subcommittee, no vote was taken on his nomination.
“We have no option but to address this issue,” State Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, said. “The initial holding of the court in this case was that the statute was ambiguous and when the court holds that a statute is ambiguous it’s something that we really need to address.”
The bill, which will likely be the first taken up by the Senate this week, would specifically bar the governor from making a recess appointment unless the vacancy occurs while the legislature is out of session. If senators do not approve the nominee, then the position would remain vacant and the governor could not make another interim appointment. [Read more…]