The last day of the regular legislative session at the Statehouse is known as Sine Die, a Latin term that means to end a meeting without an appointed date to return. Per the South Carolina constitution, this day takes place on the second Thursday of May, and the South Carolina House and Senate must adjourn at 5:00 p.m. on this day.
Like Congress, the Legislature loves a good deadline. Bills that have been declared dead since January can quickly be resurrected during the final week…day…and even hour of session. You’ll see legislators, lobbyists, and pages running – yes, actually running, and sometimes in stilettos – between the two chambers to make sure their bills make the 5:00 p.m. deadline. For those whose bills have already been passed, it’s great political entertainment. For those doing the running, it’s the most stressful day of the session.
This year, two of the Upstate Chamber Coalition’s top priorities passed at 4:56 p.m. and 4:57 p.m. This is how a bill really becomes a law on the last day of the legislative session:
Workforce Expansion (Expanded Expungement)
H.3209 was the Coalition’s top priority this session. After passing the House overwhelmingly last year 103-0, the bill had been stuck on the Senate’s calendar ( their to-do list) for over a year. This legislation allows for the expungement of a number of minor, non-violent drug felonies, which would expand our state’s workforce. Any formerly incarcerated people will have to keep a clean record for a set period of time (depending on the offense). It also allows solicitors to bundle charges for expungement, and dramatically expands expungement for misdemeanor offenses. This legislation will remove barriers to employment for tens of thousands of individuals.
Timeline of Events:
Secretary of Education as a Cabinet Position
The Chamber has long supported and advocated that more statewide offices should be accountable to the Governor, particularly the Secretary of Education, who plays a critical role in shaping our state’s future workforce. Every year since around the early 90’s there’s been legislation that would allow voters to decide by referendum whether they want the Secretary of Education to be a cabinet position. And every year…it’s failed to get the necessary votes from the legislature. There wasn’t much optimism for H. 3146 this year.
However, last week, in a procedural move that many Statehouse veterans have never seen, a Senator filibustering H. 3146 shockingly moved to sit himself down in order for the Senate to vote on the bill. Here’s how it went down: