The gavel dropped in the House of Representatives at 5:00 p.m. Thursday June 7, 2012 (as required by the Constitution) bringing to a close the second and final year of the 119th legislative session. Bills not heading to the governor’s desk or assigned to a conference committee died. But measures sent to conference committees will be taken up in a upcoming special session which begins tomorrow, June 19.
I have written to you several times about my frustration with the Senate and their rule by which they are able to kill bills. Well, we the taxpayers are the victims of this tactic and I continue to be frustrated.
I, personally, had two bills that had been sitting in the Senate that were killed by two Senators. The Moped DUI Bill that was introduced by me and Rep. Derham Cole and the Drug Testing Bill. We thought we had an agreement on the Moped DUI, but at the last minute these two senators played the game they are so good at and the bill was dead. The Drug Testing Bill was dealt the same fate by the same senators. An agreement was reached and at the final hour, they killed it.
We may have been defeated this year but we will re-introduce the identical bill for the next session and fight to get them both passed. By not having these laws on the books, we are costing the taxpayers of SC.
<Note: Both of these bills were killed by Senators in the minority party>
Several major legislative initiatives are still being worked out in conference committees and will be considered when we return for a special session June 19th. This year’s session will likely be deemed successful if the House and Senate agree on long-overdue reform of the Retirement System and the governmental restructuring bill creating a Department of Administration that eliminates the antiquated Budget & Control Board. Both bodies have agreed on their versions of reform and, hopefully, the conferees will be able to hammer out differences and both the House and Senate can find agreement.
The other major piece of legislation that must be worked out before June 30 is the State Budget for 2012-2013. We will be staying in Columbia this week until an agreement is made.
FOIA: FOIA Bill DEAD: The FOIA legislation that would allow citizen’s greater access to government at all levels by eliminating the costly roadblocks used to thwart their search for information was also killed. You can be assured this will be re-introduced in this next session.
As I said, there are a number of bills in conference committees and I am assigned to the conference committee relating to the Omnibus Crime Bill, which will meet at four on Tuesday.
Just a reminder on how conference committees are comprised and what they are charged to do. A conference committee is made of three House members, appointed by the Speaker of the House and three Senators, appointed by the President Pro Temp of the Senate. The committee meets to work out the differences in the House version and the Senate version. They are allowed to only recommend what was in either one or the other versions. The only way something can be added to the bill, if it was not in one version or the other, is to gain “free conference powers”, which requires approval of 2/3 of the entire House and Senate.
There remains much work to be done, with little time to do it, but we will stay in Columbia until it is finished and the bills have been sent to the Governor for her signature. We will return on Tuesday, June 26 to take up any of the Governor’s vetoes.
I will keep you informed on the progress of this week as we deal with conference committees and reports.