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South Carolina House quickly approves transparency bill

By: The Associated Press//January 14, 2011

South Carolina House quickly approves transparency bill

By: The Associated Press//January 14, 2011

COLUMBIA (AP) – South Carolina law would require legislators to take a roll call on most of their votes under a proposal fast-tracked by House lawmakers in their first week back in Columbia.

The House bypassed the committee process to approve the measure 104-0 Thursday, and allowed it to head to the Senate after an automatic third reading Friday.

The bill is aimed at providing greater transparency by limiting voice votes that don’t record how each legislator voted. It was a key campaign issue last year for Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, who said residents needs to know how their local legislator voted to spend their money. The approval comes a day after she was sworn into office.

Budget officials say each roll-call vote will cost about $35, due to the cost of printing a bigger journal. But GOP Rep. Nathan Ballentine of Chapin, who had worked with Haley on the issue since 2008, called the cost insignificant compared to taxpayers’ potential savings.

Ballentine said he hopes the campaign attention means the measure will quickly clear the Senate too.

The measure fast-tracked Thursday is identical to one passed by the House last year, also 104-0 – before dying in the Senate – and similar to rules it passed in January 2009 on how the chamber operates.

The Senate had also passed chamber rules requiring more roll call votes. The Senate Rules Committee voted Wednesday, shortly after Haley’s inauguration, to expand what requires a roll call vote on the Senate floor.

Haley has argued the rules need to be put into state law. Senate Rules Committee Chairman Larry Martin said he will push to require a constitutional amendment on roll call voting, so that future General Assemblies can’t pass a new law reverting to more voice votes.

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