Sunday, May 1, 2005
could be vastly different next year
SC Statehouse Report
1, 2005 - - The S.C. House of Representatives will be a new
place next year.
By next year, Rep. David Wilkins, the third-longest House
speaker in the states history, will be the new U.S.
ambassador to Canada.
By next year, there will be a new Republican speaker in the
chamber that has more than 70 Republicans, compared to the
18 members of the GOP when Greenville voters first elected
Wilkins to the House in 1981.
After 11 years of stability under Wilkins forceful leadership,
next years House could easily become a more raucous
In a day when political parties mean far less to voters,
parties likely hold the key to the next speakers success.
For years, Wilkins has held the Republican members of the
House together as a majority bloc of votes on major issues,
which allowed the speaker, his committee chairmen and lieutenants
to push through just about any bill they wanted. Republican
members rarely have broken with the will of the GOP House
To Wilkins credit, that has allowed Republicans to push
through a conservative agenda with relative ease. To his critics,
however, bloc voting rushed legislation that may have benefited
from more discussion and time in committees.
Today, there are three strong GOP candidates to replace Wilkins
as speaker, assuming he is confirmed by the U.S. Senate over
the summer or fall to be the new ambassador to Canada. (Most
see Wilkins as a shoe-in, as reflected by recent comments
by Democratic U.S. Sen. Joe Biden of Delaware.)
do you really think the next House Speaker will be?
you want to voice your opinion, you can take our poll
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In the running to be new speaker are Speaker Pro Tem Doug
Smith, R-Spartanburg, House Ways and Means Chairman Bobby
Harrell, R-Charleston, and House Judiciary Chairman Jim Harrison,
At this point, the race appears neck-and-neck to many observers
with no clear leading candidate. With each of the candidates
from a different part of the state, there may differing parochial
interests in the GOP House Caucus.
The key for the successful candidate appears to be whether
the House GOP Caucus again will vote as a bloc or whether
Harrell, Harrison and Smith will peel off members to vote
If the GOP remains united and stands behind one candidate,
its less likely there will be sweeping changes next
year when House members convene for the 2006 session. By staying
together behind one candidate, they essentially will be endorsing
the Wilkins way of doing things sticking
together on major votes to push a united agenda.
WORLD: At the pumps
On Altman, Santee Cooper, more
Thumbs up and down
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But if the GOP caucus fractures and members vote for various
candidates when the Speakers race hits the floor, the
real deciders of the next speaker might be just those who
the GOP doesnt want to make the decision Democrats,
but only if they can remain together and vote as a bloc (something
that seems extremely difficult for Democrats.)
The three speaker candidates reportedly are scurrying behind
the scene trying to lock up commitments from House members.
If they continue, the House GOP caucus may split, which would
help the Democrats. Word on the street is that speaker candidates
are wooing Democrats to put together a coalition of GOP and
Democratic votes to have the 63 needed to win.
But for a Republican speaker to have to secure a significant
number of Democratic votes to win might spell the end of long-time
GOP caucus unity. To get those Democratic votes, the speaker
candidate would have to make concessions on things like committee
chairmanships and putting Democrats on conference committees
when the House is trying to make compromises with the Senate
on legislation. (Wilkins appointed few Democrats to conference
committees over the years.)
Wilkins has left a stamp of strong leadership on the House.
Hes respected by members of both parties.
Next year, the House will have a different speaker. And while
hes trying to earn the respect of all members, theyll
likely be cutting up a little and testing their limits under
new leadership. And that should make for an interesting session
and more politics.
5/1: Gas prices
Another great cartoon from Bill McLemore:
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Santee Cooper is government socialism
To the editor:
Rep. Denny Neilson and Andy Brack take a swipe at Gov. Sanford
for his interest in privatizing Santee Cooper (Commentary,
The definition of socialism is government ownership of the
means of production. Santee Cooper fits this definition like
a glove. Democrats in the General Assembly should be asked
to explain to their constituents their reasons for preferring
socialism over capitalism.
-- Hugh Campbell, Hartsville, S.C.
Editor's note: Mr. Campbell: You
are receiving the free version of Statehouse Report online
or you are reading it in a local newspaper; if you'd prefer
to pay for the full capitalist version, please visit our
subscribe section. Statehouse
Report is a strong believer in capitalism.)
Marching against Altman
To the editor:
Although I have never voted for him, as a resident of Charleston,
I am saddened to admit that this is my Representative.
On Thursday (4/21), a number of Columbia College women marched
to the State
House, in a rally against the tabling of the bill, and against
the stupidity that has been exemplified by John Graham Altman.
Anyone who ever doubted the purpose or power of a women's
college can use that day as one of the many examples of why
we are still needed. We as women, and as a college community
came together to speak out against this madness, and to let
the world know that this will not
-- Shavone Gadsden, sophomore, Columbia College
Bravo on Neanderthal column
Bravo re your editorial on that "neanderthal" Altman!
4/24) I saw that interview replayed on a national
TV program and was appalled to say the least. The reporter
showed a tremendous amount of professionalism and "cool"
- he, a fool to say the least. It would be my hope that he
be drummed out of the state house as it seemed he would make
it a priority to be informed as to the whys and wherefores
of human behavior as opposed to those of chickens. Thanks
for writing so well.
-- Natalie Mann, Bluffton, S.C.
In this new section, we will keep track of Statehouse Report's
record of forecasting what goes on in the legislature. For
example, at the beginning of the year, a commentary called
for no roads to be named for living officials. Sixteen days
later, House Speaker David Wilkins introduced such a measure.
In Statehouse Report:
disclosure needed to highlight influence peddlers:
"Voters deserve to know the people and money behind
efforts to influence lawmakers' votes because policies
that are passed will impact people across the state.
Similarly, state lawmakers deserve to know who is behind
efforts to persuade them to vote. More accountability
is called for. State lawmakers should consider beefing
up campaign disclosure laws to cover efforts to influence
In other outlets:
may consider changes to disclosure rules: "Some
lawmakers say they want to know who is behind it all
and think it is time for a change in the disclosure
laws. 'This thing has the potential
for costing billions of dollars out of the state treasury,
and we as legislators should know whos trying
to influence our state,' said Rep. Ted Vick, D-Chesterfield.
Legislative leaders, including
House Speaker David Wilkins, R-Greenville, say they
might be willing to consider the idea.
"Siphoning public money for private education could
lead to school resegregation, says the Rev. Joseph A.
Darby, the much-respected African American minister at
Morris Brown A.M.E. Church in Charleston." More.
"Now opponents say that tuition tax credits would
in effect re-segregate the state's schools, with whites
fleeing to private schools and public schools becoming
increasingly black." The
Screen: Changes ahead in House leadership?
may be appointed ambassador, successors lining up,
Post and Courier
SOUTH CAROLINA SCORECARD
Here's a "thumbs up" and "thumbs down" related to various
political events from the past week:
Wilkins. Congratulations to Speaker David Wilkins
on being nominated to be the U.S. Ambassador to Canada. He'll
serve with grace and distinction.
McConnell, Campsen. Congrats to these two Republican
senators for voting against the Senate budget and sending
a message about inequitable school funding.
Rutherford. Thumbs down to Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland,
who stalled a House bill that would toughen domestic violence
penalities. While it's smart to read the fine print, any clean-up
could have been done in conference committee.
Altman. Despite a mediocre apology this week to the
House for his negative statements that ignited the pushback
to pass tougher domestic violence legislation, Altman still
seemed to suffer, with The State's Brad Warthen calling him
a jerk. (More: The
Sanford. Another bad week. The governor's idea to
change the way budgets are written got killed by the Senate.
He looked bad in transferring to a new military unit right
before the old one got activated. He keeps pushing his income
tax reduction plan.
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Scorecard -- A Thumbs Up and Thumbs Down of major
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