A hearing on a key piece of government transparency legislation was abruptly canceled by the S.C. Senate on Wednesday, leaving supporters of the legislation fearful that the bill will once again die on the vine.
“This reminds me of 2009, when the House Ways and Means Committee had the roll call bill on their schedule,” S.C. tea party leader Talbert Black said in an email to his supporters. “We had dozens of people fired up and committed to being at the hearing. But the Ways and Means Committee never met again for the remainder of the session.”
A top priority of S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley – who has struggled to live up to her transparency rhetoric – this year’s legislation is being sponsored by S.C. Rep. Nathan Ballentine (R-Irmo). If the measure becomes law (and we sincerely hope that it does), anonymous voice votes on tax or spending increases – like last year’s anonymous voice vote to raise the cigarette tax – would be outlawed. The bill would also require a recorded vote on the final passage of any piece of legislation – as well as recorded votes on individual sections of the state budget.
(To read Ballentine’s bill for yourself, click here).
To its credit, the S.C. House of Representatives has passed this legislation in each of the last two sessions – most recently on January 13. And to its credit, the S.C. Senate has adopted a rules change that accomplishes much of what transparency supporters want.
Still, we believe that this enhanced transparency must be made a part of permanent law – along with a 72-hour rule that is being pushed by S.C. Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort). Davis’ bill has been adopted by the S.C. Senate as a rules change, but like the transparency bill is not yet part of permanent law.
Originally scheduled for a hearing on Thursday, the Senate Judiciary subcommittee charged with hearing the legislation was reportedly “too busy” to discuss it. The committee will meet on February 9, although it is unclear yet whether the transparency bill will be discussed.
(To check out our daily schedule of House and Senate meetings, click here).