The Republican leadership of the 46-member state Senate will put smaller government and more austere budgeting at the top of its 2010 agenda, though it is clear lawmakers also have not forgotten the year that was 2009.
Senators prefiled more than 100 bills Wednesday for the legislative session that begins in January, including one that seeks to clarify the lieutenant governor's authority to act in a state emergency in the governor's absence.
Another measure, also filed by Senate President Pro Tempore Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, would require the State Law Enforcement Division to protect and provide security to both the governor and lieutenant governor, whether they want it or not.
Both issues came under the spotlight last summer when Republican Gov. Mark Sanford left the state for five days with his whereabouts unknown.
Never miss a local story.
Security for the lieutenant governor has been debated in the Senate for years.
Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee, said one of his top priorities in January will be to correct a 2004 mistake that restricts public access to emergency medical services records.
"I want to make very clear that we never intended to keep EMS out of the view of public scrutiny," Peeler said. "We are going to fix this problem at the earliest possible opportunity."
Peeler also teamed up with McConnell and Senate Finance Committee chairman Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, to introduce a bill designed to streamline state government and reduce waste.
"We've had declining revenues over the past several years, and projected for years to come," McConnell said. "If no corrective action is taken, we will have severe funding gaps in state government."
The legislation creates a commission that must make a report by January 2011 on ways to streamline the government.
McConnell said zero-based budgeting, in which lawmakers look at spending from scratch each year in the appropriations process, would help screen waste and rein in spending.
Other measures filed include a plan to make Veterans Day a holiday for all South Carolina schools and bills to change primary voting in the state.
Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland, filed a bill that would require an $8 state criminal background check on all employees who directly interact with children in public schools.
Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Berkeley, a candidate for governor in 2010, filed several bills aimed at reversing federal actions, including a resolution asking the state's congressional delegation to only vote for balanced federal budgets.
That same bill, S.946, also seeks a repeal of the federal stimulus bill, and the bailout legislation Congress used to rescue U.S. automakers General Motors and Chrysler.
Sens. Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, and Mike Rose, R-Berkeley, both filed bills to stop South Carolina's participation in pending federal health care changes, and Sen. David Thomas, R-Greenville, filed a bill to require drug screens for those who receive unemployment checks.
Rose also filed a bill that would make it unlawful for employers to use an individual's credit history as grounds to deny employment or to dismiss an employee.