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Speaker, Adjutant General Unveil Restructuring Proposals

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(Columbia, SC) – After a year-long analysis of the issues by a diverse review panel appointed by Adjutant General Robert E. Livingston, Jr., reform legislation was introduced today by Speaker of the S.C. House Bobby Harrell that employs many of the panel’s recommendations to change how our state’s head military position is chosen.

“General Livingston worked very hard to be elected our state’s Adjutant General,” House Speaker Bobby Harrell said. “With a distinguished military career and great devotion to public service, he is more than qualified to hold this important statewide post. Putting our state’s best interests ahead of political ambitions, General Livingston should be applauded for recommending such a responsible restructuring proposal to ensure that we will continue to have capable military leaders serving in this position.”

Currently, with very few qualifying guidelines required of candidates, our state’s Adjutant General is a Constitutional Officer elected by voters statewide every four years. This restructuring reform (H. 3540) adds necessary qualifications candidates must meet in order to be considered and changes the position into a staggered gubernatorial appointment that would overlap a Governor’s four-year term. As with other staggered gubernatorial appointments, like the Chief of SLED, this is done in an effort to further remove the issue of politics from a key military post.

Adjutant General Bob Livingston stated, “This change in the selection process will go a long way towards removing the politics from our great Military. It will allow Soldiers, Airmen and Families to concentrate on their service. The National Guard is now an operational force and its leaders need to be chosen for their qualifications and future abilities. This change also increases the size of the pool of qualified candidates in size and diversity.”

This restructuring change (H. 3540) comes in the form of a proposed amendment to our state’s constitution that, if successfully passed by a 2/3 majority in each Legislative Chamber, will be decided upon by a majority of our state’s voters in the next statewide election.

Speaker Harrell added, “Our goal is to ensure that our state’s future Adjutants General are effectively qualified by replacing political qualifiers with benchmarks of military leadership and experience. As with other Constitutional Officer positions the House has proposed restructuring, our state’s citizens will be better served by this change. This reform will protect the integrity of this military position. In fact, most citizens are surprised to learn that candidates with absolutely no military experience are fully qualified to be elected our state’s head military officer under the current system.”

Several government restructuring reforms have been previously introduced and passed by the House but fell short of becoming law. However, this past session, a House led constitutional amendment ending the separate election of our state’s Lt. Governor by allowing future Governors to pick their own running mate successfully made it all the way through the legislative process and was overwhelmingly approved by voters in November election.

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