What happens when a state lawmaker stops showing up for work? Ask the residents of S.C. House District 26 – which is (or was) represented by 25-year-old lawmaker Eric Bikas. According to state lawmakers of both parties, the first-term Republican hasn’t been seen at the S.C. State House in more than two months.
In fact the last time Bikas’ name was recorded in the House Journal was on January 25.
Well, we know that Bikas was booted from the House floor at some point in January over a dress code issue. Reports vary as to what Bikas was wearing at the time, but what’s not disputed is the fact that he was asked to leave the chamber by the House’s Sergeant-at-Arms.
“I had my jacket on,” Bikas tells FITS. “But you don’t even have to wear your jacket unless you are at the well.”
According to Bikas, the real reason for his prolonged absence is “a little disagreement” he had with House Speaker Bobby Harrell (RINO-Charleston).
Specifically, Bikas said that he was asked by Harrell to rally support for a piece of legislation that involved spending “$25,000 to name a road.” Bikas did not agree with the legislation, and so he declined to ask his colleagues to support it. As a result the vote failed to pass.
This reportedly enraged Harrell, who exacted retribution by drawing Bikas’ House district off of the map as part of the recent House redistricting plan.
Ouch … right?
Prior to the dust-up over the road bill, Harrell had promised Bikas that he would protect him during the redistricting process – and even offered to elevate the young lawmaker to the chairmanship of a higher education committee.
Bikas says the dispute over his attire was the last straw, prompting him to “take a hiatus” from the House.
But what about his constituents?
“It wasn’t my intention to stay gone this long,” Bikas acknowledges.
Bikas says that while he was “going along to get along,” everything was fine – but the second he started asking questions about how taxpayer dollars were being spent in Columbia the GOP leadership turned against him.
For example, he referenced a bill that was promoted as a way to fund autism research – but which was really a shady political payoff.
“The money wasn’t going to autism research, it was going to somebody’s cousin,” he says.
Bikas also criticized Harrell for getting his “lap dog” Brian White (RINO-Anderson) named to the House Ways and Means chairmanship as opposed to GOP Majority Leader Kenny Bingham, who he says “plays the game but doesn’t march in lock-step.”
“If you go down there and try to save people money they put you on the back bench, they strip you of your committee assignment and then they do away with your district,” he says. “Well that’s just fine. I’m happy to lose my seat to show the people of South Carolina who the good old boys are.”
Before that happens, though, Bikas says he plans on introducing several pieces of legislation when he returns to the State House early next month (yes, he’s coming back) – including a bill that would place term limits on the Speaker of the House.
He also says he plans on speaking out regarding the way the status quo seeks to silence dissent – especially dissent aimed at saving your money.
Should be interesting …