The last-minute approval of two ethics reform bills saved this year’s legislative session from being a bust — and even those reforms leave something to be desired.…
The other important governance reform to come out of the session is the imposition of new restraints on the State Infrastructure Bank. SIB projects will have to be approved by the highway commission, and those projects will have to be on the Department of Transportation’s priority list. So the SIB shouldn’t be able to continue operating as a shadow highway commission, approving major infrastructure projects on its own.
Legislation to give the governor greater authority over appointments to the state highway commission is muddied by requirements for three levels of legislative review for her nominees. Who knows if the goal can be achieved through such a cumbersome process?
Road governance changes were part of a bill to provide $2.2 billion for state roads and bridges — the main initiative of the session.…
The House approved a gas tax hike but the bill stalled in the Senate because of the ill-considered filibuster of a few senators, led by Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort.
The ability of a few senators to obstruct legislative business indefinitely signals the need for Senate rules changes.
So did the failure of the Senate to vote on Freedom of Information Act improvements that were four years in the making.
Lackluster session, II
The General Assembly is under this court order to develop a new education funding system, but they have made little progress, possibly because they are still outraged that the court had the temerity to tell lawmakers what to do.
They have nibbled around the edges of the problem. They have spent money on incentives for teachers to go to rural areas and to fund a study committee on borrowing money to build new schools. But the foundational problem, the mechanism the state uses to fund education, is still broken. This is a complex issue that lawmakers have left on the table.
Also left unpassed was a bill that would have strengthened your right to find out what your local governments and school districts are up to. The bill would have strengthened the state’s Freedom of Information Act, limiting the ability of local governments to overcharge residents asking for information and creating an appeal process when governments try to hide public information.
Lawmakers said they had widespread agreement to make the changes, but it wasn’t enough to overcome the objections of one senator, Margie Bright Matthews, D-Walterboro, who used Senate rules to delay the bill until it was dead. Senators need to take another look at rules that allow one senator to effectively kill a bill.
Lawmakers will be playing up their accomplishments this session, but they left too much undone.
Thanks for voting
Check the voter turnout numbers in many elections and you realize the drum beat is lost on far too many people still. People complain about the people elected to office, but then they forfeit their privilege to vote them out of office. Or, in some cases, they support officeholders, but apparently not enough to vote and retain them. It’s puzzling, really. …
So if you are among those who voted on Tuesday, well done. You carried out your duty, you exercised your right and privilege to make your voice heard via the balloting process. If you are among those who did not vote, refrain from complaining about anything those in elected office do for you. Or to you. You have no voice because you willingly chose to mute it.