Signs, Signs, everywhere Signs.

Last session, the House approved a bill that would restrict the “naming of bridges/roads/intersections” to only those people that were deceased.That bill, however, was D.O.A. in the Senate.

Last week, a similar bill was up for debate and, for some reason, it hasn’t even got out of the House. H.3084 seemed simple enough but, in this ever-so-partisan year, it turned into a “rich v. poor” debate. Simply put, the bill would only allow state funds to be used to pay for signs named in memory of serviceman or law enforcement officers killed in the line of duty . What is wrong with that?

Well, colleagues quickly argued that there may be other justifiable times when recognition of a road would not be for a serviceman or law enforcement officer killed in the line of duty. One example given was a situation young child killed by a drunk-driver. Officials wanted to remember this loss and (I imagine) let the sign serve as a reminder to others about the tragedies of drunk-driving. In that instance, I would agree a sign could be appropriate. However, why not have private funds pay for this? I’m sure a school or organization could raise funds (estimate $500) for such a worthy cause. But the debate went further. It soon turned into something about “poor folks” who deserve recognition not being able to pay the money like “rich folks” can. Then examples of war heros (still living) not being able to be recognized because….well….they were still living.

That bill failed on Tuesday. Was reconsidered Wednesday and amended to say that if private funds were used, it could be named after an individual (living). An amendment also passed that would add firemen to the group (with serviceman, law enforcement) that would end up having the state pay for their signs. The bill was not approved though as debate was adjourned.

Then on Thursday, it was adjourned again.

You may be asking “Really? They can’t be spending this much time on something like this can they?” Well, we can. That’s the political process. Even a “minor bill” can sometimes become a “major battle” about the merits or….about other things.

“Battle Lines Drawn”

Once again, Thursday proved to be “overtime” this week for the House as we stayed well-past the usual noon adjournment time. Earlier this year it was Election Laws. This time it was a prelude to Budget Week that starts Monday (March 9th).

First, let me say, I firmly believe rules are rules and, as long as everyone plays within those rules, you can’t blame anyone for how they play. You may not LIKE the rules but they’re there for a reason. In this case, the House Democrats played by the rules but many would argue it was more partisan politics than anything else. What happened?

Six consecutive House Bills on the calendar (authored by Republicans) were delayed either by “Requests for Debate” or “24 hour rule”. This is a very unusual occurrence and one that sparked a Republican to get up and debate a very benign Resolution (authored by a Democrat) that dealt with obesity. That’s when it started getting ugly. (In case it hadn’t earlier this year, right?) After some heated debate, the resolution was adopted and we moved on to the “real reason” we stayed Thursday. H3581 – a resolution needing to pass Thursday in order to start the Budget on Monday.

What’s H.3581 ? It’s a brief, but important resolution, that basically will allow for “Aid to Subdivisions” to be used to help balance the budget proposal next week and it had to pass.

Democrats filed over 70 amendments and then, (right or wrong) Republican invoked cloture. NathansNews readers remember what cloture means from previous posts this year. It limits debate and I prefer not to vote for it (didn’t last week during Election Laws). In this instance though, I did. The bill finally passed 65-40 but not before we basically voted on every county in the state to be exempt from the resolution.

Check back next week to see how the Budget Debate went or follow SC TWEETS to get live-from-the-floor updates from both Republicans and Democrats.

Closer to home…

Speaking of partisan politics, the 30,000 residents in our community are being denied a voice on the Richland County Recreation Commission because, well, as I was told by a colleague “Being the majority (Democrats 11-4 over Republicans on Richland Delegation) in the county has got to mean something. That’s how it’s gonna be. You’re not getting your guy on!” Yep, that’s what I was told as I tried to appoint someone from Northwest Richland County. Mind you, I have in my posession TWO RESOLUTIONS with the required 8 signatures each (8 out of 15 in our delegation is a majority vote) but strong-arming has happened and folks have asked to have their signatures removed. The letters have 3 House Republicans, 3 House Democrats, 1 Senate Republican and 1 Senate Democrat. EVEN WITH THAT BI-PARTISIANSHIP, A MEMBER IS DETERMINED TO KEEP US FROM HAVING A VOICE. Let’s not forget what happened to “our guy” last time we had a voice either . Being told that we never had representation for several years until I got elected, doesn’t make it better. We need representation for our area – particularily for Friarsgate Park. I’ll keep you posted.

Constituents visiting this week were: Donna Quirk, Gabrielle Barnes, Kathleen Mercer, Kathy Cannon, and Ben Thompson (again). I appreciate each of their interest in various bills that will be debated this year. I also appreciate their expertise and advice about these bills.

It will be very difficult for me to meet with you this week due to the Budget Debate but if you stop by, please send a note into the chamber or call Eileen Fogle (Legislative Aide) at 734-9966.