Department of Administration—10 years and two governors later
Several lawmakers in both chambers approved on Thursday a compromise to restructure state government, moving some of the responsibilities of the state Budget and Control Board into a cabinet-level Department of Administration.
But if it feels like déjà vu all over again, that’s because it is. Both Haley’s and Sanford’s administrations touted government restructuring over the past 10 years, attempting a greater balance of power in state government—S.C. is often called a legislative state, in part, because the two of the five board members are powerful lawmakers. The Senate Finance Committee and House Ways and Means Committee chairmen sit on the board along side the governor, treasurer and comptroller general. The House approved a similar compromise in 2012, but it died in the Senate on the last day of session.
The bill moves some of the administrative functions of government—such as human resources, information technology and state vehicles—into the Department of Administration. Both the House and the Senate must approve the measure. Lawmakers may take up the measure early next week.
Harrell “shocked and blindsided” by news he will be under investigation by the state grand jury
State House Speaker Bobby Harrell on Tuesday called on state Attorney General Alan Wilson to release a SLED report on an investigation into how the Charleston Republican used campaign funds. One hour before lawmakers in both chambers were set to reconvene for the year, Harrell gave remarks and fielded questions from reporters the day after the attorney general’s office announced it would refer that investigation to the state grand jury.
Harrell said he heard about the announcement after the fact and said he was blindsided by the news, the timing of which he thought to be intended to inflict political damage.
The think tank, the S.C. Policy Council prompted a deeper look at Harrell’s campaign expenditures by the attorney general’s office about a year ago after findings Harrell reimbursed himself from his campaign account when using his personal plan on state business.
Harrell said he has done no wrong and insisted on an immediate release of SLED’s report, which he hasn’t seen. When reporters pressed him to say why he wouldn’t release his records, he said he thinks his receipts need to be shown in context and that the whole report should be released together.
Competing rallies on health care greet lawmakers on first day back
Two rallies greeted legislators on the first day of the legislative session Tuesday. The morning crowd called for lawmakers to support a measure to nullify the Affordable Care Act’s in S.C. As House and Senate members reconvened, another crowd gathered outside, urging them to expand Medicaid.
Sen. Tom Davis spoke at the rally, which called for lawmakers to nullify the ACA. The Beaufort Republican is set to introduce to the nullification bill an amendment aimed at non-compliance with the federal law. The Senate spent its first three days on a bill to let gun owners carry guns into restaurants serving alcohol. The Senate passed that measure, which the House may vote on Tuesday. The bill to nullify the ACA may come up in the Senate as early as Tuesday.