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House members request to be dropped from SC Supreme Court petition

Two S.C. Legislative Council members want no part of a state senator’s request for the S.C. Supreme Court to clarify who will become the state’s next lieutenant governor.

S.C. House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, and Rep. Greg Delleney, R-Chester, are requesting to be removed as respondents in a Supreme Court petition filed earlier this month by Sen. Tom Davis. The Beaufort County senator wants a ruling that the governor cannot appoint a lieutenant governor until after the 2018 election.

Lucas and Delleney argue they play no role in the replacement of Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster, who will rise to become the next governor if Gov. Nikki Haley is confirmed ambassador to the United Nations.

Meanwhile, Legislative Council member and S.C. Secretary of State Mark Hammond formally responded he will abide by the Supreme Court’s decision.

The ratification language that lawmakers approved after a 2014 statewide referendum — allowing the governor and lieutenant governor to be elected on the same ticket — omitted a 2018 starting date for the governor to appoint a new lieutenant governor if that post becomes vacant, Davis has said.

That means the president pro tempore of the Senate, now Sen. Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, should rise to lieutenant governor if McMaster becomes governor, Davis says.

However, some have argued because the 2018 date was omitted, McMaster can appoint his replacement.

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