McConnell should make one more sacrifice: See out the session

06/04/2014 5:34 PM

06/04/2014 5:36 PM

Two years ago, Glenn McConnell made an incredible sacrifice, giving up the job he loved, the only job he had wanted for decades — president pro tempore of the South Carolina Senate — because he felt honor-bound to take the suddenly vacated position of lieutenant governor.

I never was convinced that the framers of South Carolina’s constitution had intended the rules of succession to force the president pro tempore to give up a career in the Senate if the lieutenant governor turned out to be ethically challenged.

But for a quintessential Southern gentleman such as Mr. McConnell, there’s no arguing points of honor. Or of duty.

And after what he gave up, we have no right to expect more of him.

But we can ask. We can humbly beseech him to make one more sacrifice for us. We can ask that he stay on as our lieutenant governor until the Legislature adjourns. Not because he is duty-bound or honor-bound to do so. But because we need him to do so. Our state needs him to do so.

Mr. McConnell decided to resign earlier than previously planned because he didn’t want people to question whether he was being partial when he presided over a Senate debate concerning the College of Charleston, of which he is about to become president.

Fine: Don’t preside. Other senators can preside over the session on Thursday and the wrap-up session the week after next, just like they have done all this week while Mr. McConnell had and recovered from eye surgery.

What we need him to do is to ratify acts. This is a formality but an essential formality in the process of bills becoming law: Bills can become law even if the governor doesn’t sign them. But the constitution says they can’t become law unless the lieutenant governor and the speaker of the House sign them.

Sen. John Courson resigned his pro tempore position on Wednesday in order to avoid being forced to give up his Senate seat and become a six-month lieutenant governor. And apparently, no one else is willing to give up his Senate seat to become lieutenant governor.

Which means … what? That the 2014-15 budget and the texting while driving bill and the read to succeed bill and the ethics bill if we get one and a ton of other bills won’t become law, I suppose.

Mr. McConnell can prevent this crisis. He can retain the lieutenant governor’s position for the sole purpose of ratifying acts. Frankly, that would be a much greater service to our state than any of the incredibly important things he has done for us during his storied career.

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