Both the Senate and House of Representatives met in organizational session this week in preparation of the 122nd General Assembly which convenes on Tuesday, January 10. Following the swearing-in ceremonies, both bodies elected their leadership, adopted their rules and committees met and organized. House members voted in committee to select their chairman. In the Senate, committee chairman are chosen based on seniority from the majority party.
The House Ways and Means Committee met today and elected Representative Brian White to serve again as committee chairman. The committee then heard a presentation from the Revenue and Fiscal Affairs Office about "other funds". This year's general fund budget, the amount the legislature determines how to appropriate, will be approximately $7.5 billion. However, when federal and other funds are added in, the total state budget will exceed $27 billion. The Chairman told the committee that subcommittee assignments will be forthcoming.
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
Representative Jay Lucas (R-Hartsville) was elected to serve as Speaker of the House. Representative Tommy Pope (R-York) was elected House Speaker Pro Tem. Gary Simrill (R-Rock Hill) will be the new House Majority Leader, replacing Bruce Bannister (R-Greenville). Todd Rutherford (D-Columbia) will continue to serve as House Minority Leader. The major committee chairmen are: Agriculture, Natural Resources & Environmental Affairs - David Hiott (R-Pickens) Education and Public Works - Rita Allison (R-Lyman) Judiciary - Greg Delleney (R-Chester) Labor, Commerce and Industry - Bill Sandifer (R-Seneca) Medical, Military, Public and Municipal Affairs - Leon Howard (D-Columbia) Ways and Means - Brian White (R-Anderson) House committee membership can be found here.
Senator Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence) was elected to serve as President Pro Tem. Shane Massey (R-Edgefield) was elected to serve as Senate Majority Leader. Nikki Setzler (D-West Columbia) was elected as Senate Minority Leader. The major committee chairmen are:
Agriculture and Natural Resources - Danny Verdin (R-Laurens) *Banking and Insurance -Ronnie Cromer (R-Newberry) *Corrections and Penology - Shane Martin (R-Spartanburg) Education - John Courson (R-Richland) Finance - Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence) Fish, Game and Forestry - George "Chip" Campsen (R-Charleston) General - Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson) *Judiciary - Luke Rankin (R-Horry) Labor, Commerce and Industry - Thomas Alexander (R-Oconee) Medical Affairs - Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee) *Rules - Shane Massey (R-Edgefield) Transportation - Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley) *Denotes new Chairman Senate committee membership can be found here.
SENATE RULES CHANGES
In an effort to help keep bills from languishing on the Senate calendar, particularly bills with widespread support being blocked by a single senator, the body voted to change several rules. They eliminated "minority reports", a rule that allowed a single senator to block bills even though they have won approval in committee. They agreed to move up high-priority proposals, known as "special order" bills, so they will be debated earlier in the legislative day. They also agreed to a rules change that would make it easier to end filibusters, where senators opposed to a proposal would take the podium and keep bills from being voted on. Last year the General Assembly changed the date of the end of session from the first week in June to May 11. Senators hope these rules changes will enable them to continue to remain the deliberative body, but allow bills with wide-spread support to receive a floor vote without being obstructed by just a few in opposition.
The Senate will pre-file legislation on December 13. House members will be able to pre-file legislation on December 15.
2017 LEGISLATIVE PREVIEW
We will send out our annual PreVIEW of the upcoming legislative the first week of January. The 122nd General Assembly convenes on Tuesday, January 10.
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