Gov. Nikki Haley ordered lawmakers back to Columbia next week after they failed to pass a key piece of her legislative agenda on the legislative session's last day, sparking dissention among legislative Republicans and howls from Democrats.
Haley wants lawmakers to return at 10 a.m. Tuesday to consider bills creating a Department of Administration, allowing the governor and lieutenant governor to run as a ticket, allow the governor to appoint the secretary of education and a bill merging the Department of Probation, Pardon and Parole into the Department of Corrections.
"Pick any two," Haley said, asking lawmakers to voluntarily forfeit the $250 daily pay they are due, a total of $42,500 a day.
Democratic lawmakers asked why, if the bills are so important, the Republican Haley could not work with the GOP-controlled House and Senate or include it the bills among those up for debate, such as budget and redistricting, during a planned extended session in two weeks.
"We have never witnessed anything so outlandish in all our lifejust because she didn't get her way," said House Minority Leader Harry Ott, D-Calhoun.
Senate Republican Caucus spokesman Wesley Donehue said members were split about whether they should return next week or not.Democrat Jim Hodges was the last governor to call the legislature back into session to pass a video poker bill in 1999.
Lawmakers were scheduled to adjourn at 5 p.m., but had previously planned on returning later this month to finish the budget and other items. Haley had pressured lawmakers the last two weeks to pass a bill creating a Department of Administration that would take over much of the day-to-day operation of state government from the Budget and Control Board.
But time ran out in the Senate after a lengthy debate about how far the bill should go in restructuring the Budget and Control Board. In addition, Democrats upset that the House refused to approve early voting said they purposefully delayed the bill so it would not pass.