A group of freshman South Carolina state lawmakers are pushing to reform the Palmetto State’s antiquated government structure – which is rooted in an 1895 constitution they say was borne out of an “explicit motivation to elevate the power and influence of white South Carolinians at the expense of black citizens.”
This out-of-date structure has “diffused responsibility throughout the General Assembly and subjugated the executive and judicial branches of government to the legislature.”
Are they correct? Yes … absolutely.
The Palmetto State’s 1895 constitution “continues to hold South Carolina back to this day, splintering accountability and enabling our state’s ‘leaders’ to evade responsibility for chronic academic, economic and quality of life failures,” we noted three years ago.
“It’s time for South Carolina to scrap its nineteenth century constitution and start over,” we added.
That’s exactly what this bipartisan coalition of 26 freshmen representatives and senators aims to do. According to a news release sent from the office of S.C. freshman caucus chairman Micah Caskey, this group of lawmakers is calling “for the adoption of a new state constitution,” one which would “replace the legislatively dominated and antiquated framework of the South Carolina Constitution of 1895.”
“Not a day passes in South Carolina without some headline owing to the structural rot of our system,” said Caskey, who represents S.C. House District 89 (map). “It is time to treat the disease, not just the symptoms. We must stop pretending that the status quo is acceptable. The day has come for South Carolina to revitalize its outmoded and outdated system – it is time to write a new state constitution. We need to overhaul and rebuild state government so that people can be held accountable.”
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(Via Travis Bell Photography)
“South Carolina state government is broken, inefficient, and controlled by a few powerful legislative leaders,” state senator William Timmons agreed. “The General Assembly must lead the way to restore confidence and reform state government.”
Caskey, Timmons and their allies are introducing legislation that would “restore balance in state government.”
Specifically, they want to give the governor more control over the executive branch – similar to the federal model – while also establishing a judicial branch that is “appointed with participation from both the executive and legislative branches.”
Currently, judges in South Carolina are vetted and elected by lawmakers – a process that has proven notoriously corrupt.
“South Carolina’s governor must have the authority and control to lead the executive branch through a cabinet form of government that is not dominated or micromanaged by the legislative,” the group said in its release.
It also argued that “the judiciary must be an equal branch of government.”
We agree wholeheartedly. In fact, an independent judiciary is another reform we have been aggressively pushing for years.
“Members of the S.C. General Assembly have proven incapable of ethically handling judicial appointments – while the corrupt judicial branch they’ve created has proven incapable of ethically handling our legal system,” we wrote four years ago, adding that “the current system must be scrapped sooner rather than later.”
To enact its reforms, the group is proposing a ballot referendum which – if approved by the voters – would result in the calling of a constitutional convention.
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(Via: S.C. House of Representatives)
“There is no better time than the present to visit this issue with the voters of South Carolina to look at our state constitution, and look at ways for the General Assembly to operate more efficiently and more importantly with better checks and balances,” newly elected state representative Nancy Mace of Daniel Island, S.C. said.
Democrats have recoiled at the notion of a constitutional convention, though, arguing the reforms envisioned by the freshmen caucus could be adopted via legislative changes.
“We can modify those documents, we can change state law to deal with them,” S.C. House minority leader Todd Rutherford told The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier. “But in terms of giving more power to the executive branch, we’ve tried that, and there’s no reason to change the constitution to do it.”
Frankly, we don’t care how these reforms are enacted … we just want them to happen.
State government in South Carolina keeps taxing, borrowing and spending on a government that produces abysmal outcomes – economically, fiscally, educationally and with regards to infrastructure, public safety and other core functions of government.
Just this week another report came out showing just how far the Palmetto State has to go if it wants to catch up to the rest of the country …
That’s due mostly to the fact our “Republican” leaders are every bit as liberal as the Democrats they replaced … or in the case of powerful senate leaders Hugh Leatherman and Luke Rankin, they are Democrats who simply switched parties when it became politically convenient for them to do so.
But in addition to an increasingly leftward ideological bent, our government is also hamstrung by a structure that eschews accountability and invites corruption.
We applaud Caskey, Timmons and these other lawmakers for their efforts to reform that structure … and hope they will work with proven reformers like state senator Tom Davis who have consistently championed such measures in the past.
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