SC Senate takes away bill blocking tactic

SC Senate takes away bill blocking tactic
December 07 16:23 2016 Print This Article

The South Carolina General Assembly met for an organizational meeting yesterday, The headline story was that 85-year-old Florence Republican Hugh Leatherman was re-elected as Senate President. Perhaps a larger story is that the Senate scuttled its “Minority Report” rule, which allowed one Senator to put a bill on hold. The rule change was approved by a 28-18 vote along party lines. The rule change was a priority for Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, an Edgefield County Republican.

An example of how the minority report rule worked occurred in 2015 when a resolution to join 24 other states in calling for a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. Article V of the Constitution states that two-thirds of the states (34) may propose amendments. The resolution passed the Senate Judiciary Committee 16-5 on a bi-partisan vote. Orangeburg Democrat Brad Hutto placed a minority report on the resolution, and it never got placed back on the Senate calendar for a vote of the full Senate. The measure polled at 80.5% approval statewide.

The minority party may still use the cloture rule in the Senate to delay a vote on legislation, which requires a super-majority to cut off debate and call for a vote. The cloture threshold increases as the legislative session gets closer to adjournment.