Ethics Reform & Budget
The South Carolina House of Representatives had a busy week producing an initial state budget, moving again on ethics reform, and continuing to push for increased transparency in government.
In an overwhelming 90-16 vote, the House passed H.3191, the first major update of S.C.’s Freedom of Information Act in nearly thirty years. It puts enforcement teeth into the law to prevent governmental bodies from refusing to hand over public documents. The legislation will utilize the ‘Office of Freedom of Information’ within the Administrative Law Court allowing citizens and public bodies to resolve FOIA disputes without having to file a costly lawsuit.
Wrapping the FOIA bill in the reform package gave it renewed momentum and was key to its passage. Among other things, the legislation cuts the time for receiving a requested response for documents from 15 days to 10, sets limits on costs to search for items, and requires copies be provided at the prevailing local copy rates.
One of the final bills in our ethics reform package, clarifying the law following a Supreme Court ruling, saw final passage. The bill makes clear that a public agenda is required before a government body meets – giving no less than 24 hours public notice. It also states that only agenda items may be considered during the meeting, but does provide an exemption in cases of emergency. This gives greater public awareness and ensures government on all levels in South Carolina is not allowed to operate in secret.
The House Ways and Means Full Committee began meeting Tuesday to vote on agency requests and to finalize a written state budget. We focused on funding the core
functions of government and eliminating waste and duplication. Proposing and passing a balanced budget is one the most important things we do each year. We will begin debate on the House floor in the coming weeks.
Also, we were honored to host Governor John Kasich (R-Ohio) in Columbia at the House Republican Caucus reception Wednesday night. The nearly 200 attendees got to experience first-hand the electric environment of a prominent national Republican’s visit to South Carolina and the added security, trail of reporters, and cameras that follow.
As always, it is a privilege to serve you in the South Carolina House. If you ever need help with state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me.