Weekly Update from the SC State House – June 2014: The House came in Tuesday to take up the Governor’s vetoes while the Senate came back to address some leadership changes…

Details from Each Chamber


The House came in Tuesday to take up the Governor’s vetoes and adopt several conference reports. The House overrode the Governor’s veto on a $12,000 pay raise for lawmakers, yet it was sustained in the Senate a day later. A number of other bills and measures in the budget, vetoed by Governor Haley, were overridden by both the House and Senate. These are listed below in the Senate section.

Charleston Research Bill Dies

An agreement could not be reached Tuesday between the House and Senate on a bill that would allow the College of Charleston to become the State’s third research university. This also meant that public colleges will not get the desired relief from some of the State regulations on construction projects and land purchases. Senators John Courson and Harvey Peeler expressed opposition to moving too quickly on the issue, but fundamentally did not oppose the new research designation.

Speaker Harrell announced that the House will reconvene at some point before September 30th to address any additional vetoes if necessary. The House will reorganize on November 11th.


Leadership Changes

The Senate came back for their three day session to take action on Governor Haley’s vetoes, address leadership changes, and adopt conference reports. On Wednesday, the Senate elected Senator Yancey McGill to the President Pro Tempore, before quickly being sworn in to become the State’s next Lieutenant Governor, after Lieutenant Governor McConnell resigned. Senator McGill (D-Williamsburg) will be the first Democrat elected to Statewide office in three years. After Senator McGill was sworn in to become the next Lieutenant Governor, Senator Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence), Chairman of the Finance Committee, was elected President Pro Tempore by a vote of 42-2.

Veto Action

Several vetoes overridden in the House were sustained in the Senate, including:

  • $12,000-a-year pay raise for lawmakers
  • $500,000 for a state tourism grant program to promote “Undiscovered South Carolina” (Funding was later restored)
  • $750,000 to the S.C. Council on Competitiveness

A number of vetoes were overridden by the House and Senate, including:

  • $2 million for the Lieutenant Governor’s office for Caregivers through the Home and Community Based Services program
  • $2 million for grants to youth sports programs
  • $450,000 in S.C lottery profits earmarked for three private colleges, Spartanburg Methodist, Clinton Junior, and Coker
  • $250,000 for the Woodrow Wilson Family Home
  • $150,000 to the Greenville Children’s Museum
  • $100,000 to the S.C Hall of Fame in Myrtle Beach
  • $100,000 to ensure a swimming pool in Walhalla complies with the American Disabilities Act
  • $200,000 for a special-needs park in Myrtle Beach

The Senate and House sustained $2.7 million of Governor Haley’s $18 million in vetoes in the State’s $7 billion general fund budget.

In addition to budgetary vetoes, the Senate joined the House in overriding the following vetoes:

  • S.293, Murrells Inlet Fire District
  • H.3428, First Steps Reauthorization
  • S.813, Public libraries and trespassing

Ethics Reform

On Thursday, the Senate convened adopting several conference committee reports, which were previously adopted by the House. Much of the morning was spent debating S.940, related to accommodations sales tax, and the conference report was eventually adopted. The afternoon focus shifted to the conference committee report on H.3945, the Ethics Reform bill. Senator Davis and Senator Bright held the podium in opposition to the conference report. Numerous motions were made to bring the matter to a close, but failed and the conference report was not adopted. Senator Bright contended that the proposal would limit free speech by requiring certain political groups to identify their donors. Currently, those identities are kept secret. The bill did not include an independent investigative committee that Governor Haley and others said was key to instilling trust in the process. Senator Larry Martin (R-Pickens) who continually pushed for the bill to be brought to the floor, said Senators will bring real ethics reform next session. He added that pressure to pass ethics reform may be greater, depending on “what happens across the street,” alluding to Speaker Harrell’s investigation of misused campaign funds.

At 5:00 p.m., the President Pro Tempore moved for the Senate to adjourn pursuant to the Sine Die Resolution.

The Senate will reconvene in January.