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State House

South Carolina GOP, Democratic Leaders Seek To Limit Debate In 2024

Proposed House rules change would neuter the Freedom Caucus …

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Republican and Democratic leaders in the South Carolina House of Representatives are pushing a rules change that would limit floor debate on legislation – curtailing the ability of individual lawmakers (and groups of lawmakers) to hold up bills they don’t like.

Sources familiar with the proposed rules change say it cleared both the GOP and Democratic House legislative caucuses on Tuesday (January 9, 2024) and is set to be introduced in the House rules committee later this week.

This news outlet was not immediately able to verify whether the partisan caucuses discussed the issue on Tuesday as those gatherings are conducted behind closed doors. However, members of the S.C. Freedom Caucus – a group which would be significantly constrained by the proposed change – were reportedly preparing a statement in opposition to the measure.

According to our sources, the proposed rules change would grant the current GOP majority leader – Davey Hiott – and his Democratic counterpart, Todd Rutherford, the authority to select ten (10) amendments apiece for each bill which comes to the floor of the House for a vote.

All other amendments would be ruled out of order – and dismissed without a vote.

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Aside from granting parity to Democrats – in a chamber where “Republicans” enjoy a numerical supermajority – the new rule would shut down attempts by conservatives to reshape legislation in ways more favorable to citizens and taxpayers.

“This is worse than the loyalty oath,” one conservative told me, referring to last year’s decision by GOP establishment leaders to kick conservative Republicans out of their caucus.

That legislative battle is ongoing … but this one threatens to open up a new front in the fight, which is widely expected to spill over into the 2024 elections.

Now, not only would conservative lawmakers be unable to slow the progress of bills they oppose, they wouldn’t even have the ability to get their amendments heard.

That would be a boon to status quo lawmakers, who are eager not to have the Freedom Caucus force them on the record on “difficult” votes ahead of upcoming partisan primary elections.

What will come of the proposal?

The rules committee – chaired by GOP lawmaker Anne Thayer – is scheduled to meet this Wednesday afternoon (January 10, 2024) after lawmakers adjourn for the day. According to an agenda (.pdf) for this meeting, its lone item of business is a “discussion of proposed House rules changes.”

Keep it tuned to this media outlet for the very latest on this developing power play at the S.C. State House …

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UPDATE | 1/10/2024

A bill, H. 4735, introduced yesterday (1/9/2024) by Thayer would codify the rules changes we were informed about. According to the bill, there are actually twelve amendments each party’s floor leader would be allowed to choose from – in addition to two amendments they would be allowed to personally introduce for a total of fourteen amendments.

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR …

(Travis Bell Photography)

Will Folks is the founding editor of the news outlet you are currently reading. Prior to founding FITSNews, he served as press secretary to the governor of South Carolina and before that he was a bass guitarist and dive bar bouncer. He lives in the Midlands region of the state with his wife and seven (soon to be eight) children.

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11 comments

Good January 9, 2024 at 2:54 pm

After watching the assholes of the Freedumb KKKaucus at the federal level completely shit the bed and become unable to do the simplest of duties, its good to see bipartisan support to do something about those incompetent extremists and their idiotic stunts.

Reply
Anonymous January 9, 2024 at 4:26 pm

A commie?

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Michael Covert Top fan January 10, 2024 at 1:00 pm

You think this is GOOD? Are you THAT tone deaf? They are limiting amendments to 6 from each side, plus 1 each from the perspective House Leaders. You think THAT is good representation? This is a typical Nancy Pelosi type leadership move in the poorest, poorest of fashions. It has been said, “The Legislative process should be slow and deliberate, not fast and furious”. That is appropriate for this situation. furthermore, both sides ALREADY have cloture rule and if they knew and realized how to use it appropriately, that can and would work quite nicely. Its almost as if our forefathers KNEW how screwed up our legislative body could be at times. The bottom line is this— leaving the amendments to those that Hiott and Rutherford choose, is NOT REMOTELY akin to a representative republic or the democratic process. Period.

Reply
Tina January 11, 2024 at 8:50 am

Exactly! Well said

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RC January 9, 2024 at 4:14 pm

“not only would conservative lawmakers be unable to slow the progress of bills they oppose”

Why should they be able to do that? A bill is brought to the floor, you debate it, and if you don’t like it, vote against it. The so called “Freedom” caucus isn’t interested in legislating.

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KH January 9, 2024 at 5:02 pm

I can’t believe the stupid, idiotic, asinine comments left by “Good” and “RC”. We need more legislatures like the Freedom Caucus members who will bring bad legislation to the for front so people know what the SC legislature is up to. It’s called checks and balances. You know, what our forefathers envisioned when they created our Constitution. The proposed bill would only give a certain few the ability to bring bills to a vote. All proposed bills should be debated so the representatives from each district can vote and represent their constituents. With this proposed bill, my representative cannot represent my interest or propose a bill that I have requested. The Republican and Democrat leadership is just trying to keep the people of SC from knowing what little they do for our state.

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CongareeCatfish Top fan January 10, 2024 at 9:22 am

Does anyone really think that if Democrats held the numerical supermajority that the GOP has in the Legislature that they would be granting the GOP an equal number of amendments? Not a chance. This is the kind of milquetoast limp-wristed cowardice that the conservative majority of SC voters despise. The Democrats play hardball – you kinda have to respect them for it- but over and over again the national and state GOP keep bringing a nerf bat to a gunfight. As for the proposed rule change, having a party leader decide which amendments can be brought effectively denies large swaths of voters the full representation of their elected officials – it serves no purpose other than to consolidate power and shut down otherwise long-practiced parliamentary rules that have existed in this country for oh about 250 years.

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Rob January 11, 2024 at 9:19 pm

That’s unknowable.

But it doesn’t matter here. This is much ado about nothing. Every bill coming to the floor is a GOP supported bill. The majority leader can select 10 amendments that are supported by enough members to pass.

The Democrat amendments will most likely all fail. I wish they would pass.

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RC January 10, 2024 at 11:28 am

“It’s called checks and balances. You know, what our forefathers envisioned when they created our Constitution.”

“Checks and balances” refers to the three branches of government. Zero surprise a supporter of the “freedom” caucus likes to tout the founding fathers but actually has no clue.

“The proposed bill would only give a certain few the ability to bring bills to a vote”

According to the article, it limits amendments, not bills. And the article doesn’t even hide that the purpose of these amendments is only to slow bills down. It has nothing to do with legitimate debate. The “freedom” caucus just wants to bog down bills that they know they don’t have enough “no” votes for.

Reply
Tina January 11, 2024 at 8:51 am

Lord, help us all!

Reply
Rob January 11, 2024 at 9:17 pm

The article is very misleading- intentionally so.

I’m not saying I support it – but “Conservatives” would still be heard. It allows the majority leader to select 10 amendments.

Almost all the bills coming to the floor will be GOP supported bills. They aren’t Democrat bills. I wish they were.

Reply

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