December 8, 2016
The South Carolina Legislature met Tuesday and Wednesday to formally organize for the upcoming 2017 Legislative Session.
Lt. Gov. McMaster Prepares to Become Governor, Questions Remain for Second-in-Command
South Carolina’s leadership succession remains unclear after President-elect Trump’s appointment of Gov. Nikki Haley to the United Nations as ambassador and the Senate’s re-election of President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman(R-Florence). With Sen. Leatherman publicly stating that he will not become lieutenant governor if Gov. Haley is confirmed, the question remains who or what governs the selection of a new lieutenant governor after current Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster rises to the position of governor.
Current state law requires the Senate president pro tempore to fill a vacant lieutenant governor position, however, a 2014 constitutional amendment may allow the new governor to pick his successor. With Gov. Haley’s appointment pending Senate confirmation in early 2017, Senate leaders have repeatedly stated that they’ll cross the succession bridge when they get there.
Senate Organizational Changes
Sen. Shane Massey (Majority Leader, R-Edgefield) introduced a new set of rules aimed at the traditional Senate rules that allow a single senator to block legislation. The new rules eliminate minority reports and make it easier for the body to end filibusters.
After losing leadership in primary contests, the Judiciary Committee elected Sen. Luke Rankin (R-Horry), the Banking and Insurance Committee elected Sen. Ronnie Cromer (R-Newberry), and the Corrections and Penology Committee elected Sen. Shane Martin (R-Spartanburg) as chairmen of their respective committees.
The following committees also elected new chairman:
· Ethics – Sen. Paul Campbell (R-Berkeley)
· Invitations – Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort)
· Rules – Sen. Shane Massey (Majority Leader, R-Edgefield)
New Committee Members
· Sen. Gregory Chauncey (R-Lancaster)
· Sen. Karl Allen (D-Greenville)
· Sen. Sean Bennett (R-Dorchester)
· Sen. Tom Corbin (R-Greenville)
· Sen. Mike Gambrell (R-Anderson)
· Sen. Wes Climer (R-York)
· Sen. Mike Fanning (D-Fairfield)
· Sen. Stephen Goldfinch (R-Georgetown)
· Sen. Mia McLeod (D-Richland)
· Sen. Rex Rice (R-Pickens)
· Sen. Sandy Senn (R-Charleston)
· Sen. Scott Talley (R-Spartanburg)
· Sen. William Timmons (R-Greenville)
View the complete list of 2017 Senate Standing Committees and their membership here.
House Organizational Changes
The House re-elected Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington) and all but one committee remained under the same leadership. The Ethics Committee elected Rep. Michael Pitts (R-Laurens) as chairman.
New Committee Members
Ways and Means
· Rep. Nathan Ballentine (R-Richland)
· Rep. Kirkman Finlay (R-Richland)
· Rep. Mike Sottile (R-Charleston)
· Rep. Eric Bedingfield (R-Greenville)
· Rep. Micah Caskey (R-Lexington)
· Rep. Gary Clary (R-Pickens)
· Rep. Russell Fry (R-Horry)
· Rep. Jeff Johnson (R-Horry)
· Rep. Jay Jordan (R-Florence)
· Rep. John Richard King (D-York)
· Rep. John McCravy (R-Greenwood)
· Rep. Chris Murphy (R-Dorchester)
· Rep. Samuel Rivers (R-Berkeley)