Nikki Haley’s Port Veto: Why The Delay?
S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley promised more than two weeks ago to veto the General Assembly’s unanimous rejection of her “Savannah River Sellout.”
A rebuke of a rebuke, if you will …
Without a single dissenting vote, both the S.C. House and the State Senate have passed legislation aimed at undoing Haley’s controversial appeasement of the State of Georgia’s economic development interests.
Referred to by one State Senator as “the worst mistake of any governor in my lifetime,” Haley’s decision will make it much more difficult for the Port of Charleston to gain back the competitive ground it has lost to the Port of Savannah over the past eight years. It also effectively eliminates any chance that a deep water port will be built in Jasper County – guaranteeing that taxpayers will be on the hook for the expansion of Georgia’s government-run port as opposed to benefiting from a private port in South Carolina.
Also, Haley’s decision is far worse for the environment seeing as the Jasper County port site is located fourteen miles closer to the ocean than the Port of Savannah. And the technology that is supposed to mitigate the adverse effect of the excess dredging is totally unproven.
So … what hasn’t Haley made good on her threat to veto the General Assembly’s rebuke of her “sellout?”
Is she having second thoughts? Acknowledging the cataclysmic error of her ways? Did she remember that she’s the governor of South Carolina, not Georgia?
No … the bill simply hasn’t reached her desk yet.
According to our sources, lawmakers failed to ratify the port legislation prior to the S.C. House of Representatives taking a furlough last week. As a result, the bill hasn’t made its way to Haley’s office.
When it does get there, lawmakers are still counting on Haley to veto it – setting the stage for a pair of override votes that will further underscore the disconnect between the governor and the rest of the state on this issue.
“Haley, who was already struggling to maintain a relationship with legislative leaders … appears to have lost control and leverage,” a recent editorial in The Florence (S.C.) Morning News noted. “In the first year of her term she was making some headway in that regard; bettering, at least the us-vs-them days of the Sanford administration. But the river decision has clearly put her at odds with just about everyone in both chambers.”
The editorial goes on to highlight the significance of the legislature’s unanimity on this legislation.
“That Haley got whitewashed in both chambers speaks to the potential scope of her blunder,” the News writers observe. “This legislature doesn’t vote unanimously for anything, except maybe recess.”
Will the override votes also be unanimous?
We’ll see. We suspect that Haley try to convince her most loyal legislative supporters – like S.C. Sen. Greg Ryberg – to vote against the measure (Ryberg abstained from voting on the original legislation, by the way).
Whatever happens, members of the Savannah River Maritime Commission continue to pursue legal action against Haley and her appointees to the S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), the agency which reversed its prior objections to the Savannah port project after Haley promised Georgia Gov. Nathan Deal that they would hear the case.
How important is the commission’s suit?
“If we don’t get this (decision) overturned there will be no Jasper County port in our lifetimes,” a source close to the commission tells FITS.