SC Senate Rejects Transparency Rule
GLENN McCONNELL, NIKKI SETZLER SLAM THE DOOR ON NEEDED ACCOUNTABILITY MEASURE
In a disappointingly ironic display of contempt for citizens and taxpayers, the South Carolina Senate rejected an effort this week to amend its rules to require greater transparency at the committee and subcommittee levels.
In other words the hearings that ultimately determine the fate of key legislation – and key expenditures – will remain cloaked in secrecy.
What made this defeat so ironic? The amendment that would have forced recorded, roll call votes at the committee and subcommittee levels was defeated via an unrecorded voice vote. In other words the “Republican-controlled” Senate dealt this blow to transparency in secret.
An effort to force an “on-the-record” vote was made by S.C. Senators Lee Bright (R-Spartanburg) and Tom Davis (R-Beaufort), but S.C. Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell issued a hasty ruling that blocked their effort before most people in the chamber realized what was happening.
Sources in the S.C. Senate tell FITS that at least five Senators – Bright, Davis, and newcomers Katrina Shealy, Paul Thurmond and Tom Young – all raised their hands in an effort to force an “on-the-record” vote in the moments following McConnell’s ruling. Unfortunately, S.C. Sen. Nikki Setzler (D-Lexington) convinced McConnell not to permit a vote – arguing that his original ruling should stand.
This is ridiculous …
Didn’t lawmakers make a big deal about passing “on the record” voting? Why, then, are they now casting unrecorded votes in an effort to preserve the secrecy of their committee decisions?
For shame …
For those of you unfamiliar with how the S.C. General Assembly “works,” deliberations of the floor of both the S.C. House and State Senate are carefully choreographed in advance – right down to the last intentionally obfuscating procedural twist. The real drama occurs at the committee and subcommittee levels, where lobbyists representing various special interests drive the debate and force votes that are invariably not in the taxpayers’ best interests.
Forcing those committee and subcommittee votes on the record would have been a major coup for transparency supporters – unfortunately with the exception of Bright, Davis, Shealy, Thurmond and Young, it appears that every “Republican” in the chamber sat on their hands when it came time to stand up and be counted.
Also there’s no statewide leadership on this issue as S.C. Gov. Nikki Haley (who campaigned on the issue two years ago) long ago lost all credibility when it comes to pushing these reforms.
Two years ago, “transparency” was all the rage in state government. Now – with the exception of a handful of elected officials (like State Treasurer Curtis Loftis, for example) – it has clearly become nothing but another fad on the ash heap of real reform. As a result, South Carolina ranks dead last in the nation in terms of the openness of its government.