The state budget Conference Committee met this week and, while the conferees had hoped to work through their differences and adopt a report by today, they remain at odds on several issues and will continue their negotiations. Major differences include funding for our state's public higher education institutions and funding to local governments related to pension reform. Conferees notified Speaker of the House Jay Lucas they would not have a conference report ready by Tuesday as originally planned. Therefore, the House will not return to Columbia on Tuesday. They will wait until the Conference Committee has completed its work and then return to Columbia at a later date to finish their legislative business. As this was the first year of the two-year legislative session, all bills not becoming law will retain their place on the calendar or in committee.
The state's top legislative priority, passage of the FY 2017-18 state budget H. 3720 and the Capital Reserve Fund H. 3721 was the focus this past week as budget conferees got together to work out the differences between the House and Senate versions. A Joint Resolution S. 692 (Senator Leatherman) to allow the General Assembly to continue past the mandatory May 11 Sine Die deadline was adopted since the state budget had not yet been finalized. Budget negotiations had taken a back seat to finding a compromise plan on highway infrastructure funding. Senate conferees are Senators Hugh Leatherman, Nikki Setzler and Sean Bennett. House conferees are Representatives Brian White, Mike Pitts and Leon Stavrinakis. Conferees remain at odds on several issues and will continue their negotiations. Once approved, the plan would then need to be approved by both bodies before sending it on to the governor. We will continue to keep you updated as this process moves forward.
Both versions of the state budget can be found here.
Individual state agency budget requests can be found here.
More than sixty bills received third and final reading during the last week of the legislative session and either have been, or will be formally ratified and sent to the governor next week. That represents nearly half of all bills passed during the five month legislative session. To view all bills awaiting action from the governor click here.
This past Tuesday, former State Representative Ralph Norman of Rock Hill defeated current House Speaker Pro Tem Tommy Pope to win the Republican nomination for the 5th congressional district seat. The seat was vacated when Congressman Mick Mulvaney was appointed Director of the Office of Management and Budget by President Donald Trump. Since the margin of victory was less than 1 percent, an automatic recount will now occur. Norman received 17,772 votes to Pope's 17,572 votes. Once the results are certified, Norman will face Democrat Archie Parnell on June 20. The Republican leaning 5th District covers 11 counties, including Cherokee, Chester, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lancaster, Lee, Newberry, Spartanburg, Sumter, Union and York. Representative Pope will continue to serve House District 47.
Also this past Tuesday, Wendy Brawley of Hopkins defeated Heath Hill of Eastover in a run-off election to fill the House District 70 seat vacated by the death of Representative Joe Neal. Brawley will now face Republican Bill Strickland of Sumter in the June 20 general election. Neal had been in the House since 1992 representing District 70, which covers Lower Richland and the western part of Sumter County.