The House convened last week to organize for the next two year Session beginning in January 2015. During this two day meeting, we elect a new speaker, adopt the House Rules, receive our committee assignments from the Speaker, elect committee chairmen. Also each county delegation chooses where they will sit in the chamber.
Rep. Jay Lucas, from Hartsville, was elected Speaker and Rep. Tommy Pope from Rock Hill was elected Speaker Pro Tempore. Both were unopposed.
The House Rules were amended. The more significant changes included placing a 10 year term limit on the Speaker, leadership PAC’s were banned and a new Regulations Committee was created. This along with the Legislative Oversight Committee that was created last year bring much need oversight to state agencies.
I retained my committee assignment on the Education and Transportation Committee where we elected Rep. Rita Allison as the new Chairwoman. She represents both Spartanburg and Greenville counties. She brings extensive education experience and will do an excellent job as chair.
I also was appointed to the newly created Legislative Oversight Committee. We will meet next week to elect our chairman.
The only other change in chairmanships was in the Agriculture Committee who elected Rep. Davy Hiott from Pickens as new chairman.
The indictment and resignation of our former Speaker seemed far in the past after Rep. Lucas was elected as the new Speaker. The mood of the House seemed very positive as we finished up.
Though I would liked to have seen more dramatic changes to the House Rules, Rep. Lucas made a good faith effort to address the issues that I brought up to him as he was running for the Speaker’s position.
He proposed an even stricter term limit on himself than was eventually voted through, he expanded the opportunities for those representatives with less seniority to have some influence on what happens in Columbia. He also handled the committee assignments deftly which is a needed talent in his new position.
At this point, I am encouraged by our new direction. Though these changes seem small, any change of direction in politics however slight will make a major difference over time.