There was a little more “excitement” this week on the House Floor as bills are finally finding their way out of subcommittees, and full committees, and getting onto the House Calendar for debate.
For those that might want some extensive detail on bills/committee actions, click here for a Weekly Legislative Update straight from House Staff. (NOTE: THESE SUMMARIES ARE PREPARED BY THE STAFF OF THE SOUTH CAROLINA HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND ARE NOT THE EXPRESSION OF THE LEGISLATION’S SPONSOR(S) OR THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES. THEY ARE STRICTLY FOR THE INTERNAL USE AND BENEFIT OF MEMBERS OF THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES AND ARE NOT TO BE CONSTRUED BY A COURT OF LAW AS AN EXPRESSION OF LEGISLATIVE INTENT).
Most the action occurred this Wednesday and it started at high-noon with judicial elections. You may (or may not) know that in South Carolina, the General Assembly elects our judges. This year there was only one contested race and the vote was very close. Only two votes separated the two judges (83-81).
From the House Journal
Total number of Senators voting 45
Total number of Representatives voting 119
Grand Total 164
Necessary to a choice 83
Of which Mr. Seals received 83
Of which Ms. Wetmore received 81
Whereupon, the PRESIDENT announced that the Honorable William Henry Seals, Jr., had been elected to the position of Judge, Circuit Court, At-Large, Seat 6 for the term prescribed by law.
Before that, there were some fireworks when a “heckler” spoke out from the balcony against one of the judges who was elected (without opposition). The heckler was removed by our Sergeant at Arms staff.
And then, the story that has seen a lot of press this week , we had a judge (unopposed) not get re-elected. Instead of being re-elected, he was “carried over” and we’ll vote at a later date whether to allow him to continue to serve or not.
From the House Journal
CIRCUIT COURT JUDGE, AT-LARGE SEAT, SEAT 8, CARRIED OVER
The PRESIDENT announced that nominations were in order for a Circuit Court Judge, At-Large Seat, Seat 8.
Senator McConnell, on behalf of the Judicial Merit Selection Commission, stated that the Honorable Kenneth G. Goode had been screened, found qualified, and placed his name in nomination.
Senator McConnell was recognized and addressed the members of the Joint Assembly.
On motion of Senator McConnell, the following letter from Judge Goode was published as follows:
State of South Carolina
The Circuit Court of the Sixth Judicial Circuit
Kenneth G. Goode, Judge
February 11, 2009
The Honorable Glenn McConnell
Chairman, Judicial Selection Committee
RE: Candidacy for Reelection to Judgeship
Dear Senator McConnell:
I have read with concern the article in today’s State newspaper concerning my candidacy for reelection. I understand the nature of the allegations which have been made. I further understand the allegations against me have arisen since the time of my judicial screening.
While I believe my decisions have been sound and appropriate in the cases reported on by the newspaper, I am also convinced it is totally unfair to the Legislature for me to ask to be voted upon with the allegations pending and with the allegations not having been fully reviewed by the screening committee.
As you are aware, judicial ethics prevent me from publicly responding to the allegations reported in the newspaper. I find myself in a situation where I cannot do anything to refute the allegations and where the Legislature is being asked to vote upon my candidacy in the face of allegations which have not been considered by the screening panel.
It is important to me that all of the facts be known before I am voted upon. I am convinced when the facts are reviewed my conduct will be found to have been appropriate in all of the cases reported upon in the newspaper.
The integrity of the judicial system demands that I not be voted upon at this time. The issues raised in my opinion go to the integrity of the process and are much greater than the issue of my personal candidacy.
In order that this matter be resolved in fairness to all concerned and in fairness to the Legislature, I ask that my candidacy be carried over and be resubmitted to the Judicial Screening Committee for full review. I look forward to this process to prove to the citizens of this great state that my judicial qualifications are beyond reproach.
I thank you and the members of the General Assembly for considering this request. I am available at the State House today should anyone have any questions for me or if I can provide any assistance whatsoever.
Yours very truly,
Kenneth G. Goode
Senator Fair moved that the election to fill the position of Judge, Circuit Court, At-Large, Seat 8, be carried over and the candidacy of Judge Goode be referred to the Judicial Screening Committee.
The motion was adopted.
After a break from judicial races, we shifted our focus to PayDay Lending. In the end (around 6:00 pm), the reform measure passed (93-16) and now heads to the Senate. Some items of importance in the bill (H. 3301) : a database to help ensure no more than one loan taken out at a time, a $600 maximum loan limit, and an extended-pay-period (without penalties, interest).
Thursday was a light day so that the House Ways and Means Committee (they write the budget) could continue their work. The floor debate on the budget has been pushed back a week (March 9th) in order to hopefully allow time to see what impact the national Stimulus/Bailout/Spending Bill (you pick what you want to call it) will have on our state.
We did not take up the Ultrasound/Abortion Waiting Period Bill (H. 3245) this week and it’s unclear (due to budget meetings again next week) if the bill will be debated next week or not. It is; however, on the calendar.
I enjoyed seeing constituents Dick Hohn, Padgett Lewis, and Chase Tolbert (8th grader from Dutch Fork Middle School) in my office this week. I also look forward to seeing more of you stop by to talk with me about issues important to you in state government.
Stay tuned next week for my 2009 Constituent Survey which will appear right here on Nathan’s News . You can sit at home and take a few minutes to let me know your thoughts about upcoming legislation and ways we can move our state forward. I hope you’ll take the time to complete this year’s survey (my fourth annual) and return to my home address so I can know how you feel.