S.C. Politics Today | SC Legislature returns, hopes to tackle immigration, spending

South Carolina legislators are welcoming each other back with smiles and back slaps on the first day of the 2008 General Assembly session.

The House and Senate started shortly after noon.

Lawmakers say priorities in the January-to-June session include curtailing immigration, capping state spending and adding transparency to the budget by requiring names beside money requests.

The public feud between the Republican-controlled Legislature and Republican Governor Mark Sanford is likely to continue this year. Both House and Senate seats are up for re-election.

U.S. Ambassador to Canada David Wilkins received a standing ovation at the House Republican Caucus meeting before session started. The former South Carolina House speaker left to become ambassador in the summer of 2005.

In attendance on the Senate side was former senator, now congressman, Joe Wilson, R-S.C. Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer gaveled the Senate to order at 12:08 p.m. and had to bring the noisy body to order several more times.

Senators selected their seats and committee assignments and recognized three new members:

  • Paul Campbell, R-Berkeley, who holds the seat left vacant after the April death of longtime Sen. Bill Mescher.
  • Shane Massey, R-Aiken, who won the seat vacated last year by Democrat and former gubernatorial candidate Tommy Moore.
  • Catherine Ceips, R-Beaufort, who replaced Republican Scott Richardson, now the state’s insurance commissioner.
  • -- From staff and wire reports