SC political briefs: Haley’s reorganization plan faces hurdle

January 25, 2013 

Sources: Senator wants to delay restructuring bill

State Sen. Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, will try to delay a government restructuring bill championed by Gov. Nikki Haley, several sources told The State.

The bill would abolish the State Budget and Control Board, moving most of the state’s administrative functions, including human resources and information technology, under a newly created Department of Administration. The new agency would be a Cabinet-level agency that would report directly to the governor.

The restructuring bill already has passed the Senate Judiciary Committee. But Leatherman wants to send the bill to the Senate Finance Committee, which he chairs. Senate rules say the Finance Committee should vet bills that deal with the state Budget and Control Board. Leatherman is a member of the budget board as is the governor.

Restructuring supporters, including state Sen. Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, fear sending the proposal to the Finance Committee could kill it.

Haley campaigned on the idea of a Department of Administration in 2010. Haley again made a big push for the bill during her State of the State address last week. If the bill does not pass this year, it could be difficult to pass it in 2014, when Haley will be up for reelection.

Adam Beam

Banking group hopes to stop fraud on accounts

The president of the S.C. Bankers Association says his group has created a way to detect fraud on customers’ bank accounts following last fall’s hacking of taxpayers’ filings with the state Department of Revenue.

Fred Green told a House panel Thursday the network should be in operation by month’s end.

The stolen data included 3.3 million unencrypted bank account numbers. Green says 1.1 million of those are in-state and active.

Banks received the checking account numbers through a court order last month. Green says knowing precisely which accounts were compromised allowed banks to eliminate some customers’ unnecessary anxiety, as well as flag impacted accounts.

If a customer reports or a bank detects fraud on a flagged account, banks across the state will be alerted to hopefully stop similar attempts.

Panel advances measure to shorten session

South Carolina’s regular legislative session would last just three months each year under a measure advanced Thursday by a House panel.

A House Judiciary subcommittee voted 2-1 for a measure to ask voters whether legislators should cut two months from their yearly sessions. House Majority Leader Bruce Bannister, R-Greenville, said the Legislature can get its work done sooner and save taxpayers the cost of mileage and daily expenses given to members while in Columbia.

“It seems to me we get things done based on a deadline,” said Bannister, R-Greenville, the main sponsor. “We manage our time based on deadlines we impose.”

The proposed constitutional amendment would move the official start date from early January to February. The session would end in early May instead of June.

January would be reserved for committee meetings.

House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, noted little happens in the House and Senate in the early weeks, especially the year following an election when all bills go back to the starting line. Proposals must get through the committee process before reaching the floor.

However, state Rep. Walt McLeod, D-Newberry, who voted “no,” said ending the session in May hurts the Legislature’s ability to budget properly. State budget advisers update their revenue projections for the next fiscal year in May – after the House has passed its budget plan – but usually in time for senators to work with as they craft their budget plan. The chambers then hash out their differences in committee.

Previous House proposals to shorten the legislative session have died in the Senate.

The Associated Press

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