S.C. Senate to mull recorded votes, spending controls

COLUMBIA -- Look for lawmakers in the Senate to immediately take up the issues of transparency and new controls on spending when they meet next month, Republican leaders said Wednesday.

A bill requiring senators to take mandatory recorded votes on budgetary and other weighty issues is just one of 180 bills filed Wednesday for the new, two-year legislative session opening Jan. 13.

The roll call vote, along with a constitutional change to cap the growth of state spending and legislation to increase energy efficiency will be priority issues in the Republican-led Senate this year, the lawmakers said.

The Senate could move on the first day of the session to pass roll call voting.

Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee, filed a bill to make the recorded votes necessary under state law, which would eliminate quicker, voice votes on debated issues.

But he said Wednesday he also would be open to changing Senate rules instead of the law to make the roll calls necessary.

Noting a similar measure percolating in the House, Peeler said, "This issue has legs. It kinda has the attention of the day." Roll call votes, or transparency in voting, as some describe it, was an issue in Senate races this year, and Peeler said it resonates with constituents.

If the Senate delays and implements roll call voting later in the session, it will require a two-thirds vote. On the first day of the session, changing the Senate rules to require recorded votes would take only a simple majority.

"That's the way it should be done," said Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell, R-Charles-ton, noting a rule change would be superior to a law change, which could be easily changed by future legislatures and could be used by legislators to tie up the Senate.

"I think we'll come to a rule change, and it'll be a consensus," McConnell said.

Either way, said Peeler, he wants the measure passed, and he said he has 20 votes lined up in support of the recorded votes.