EDITORIAL: Shortened sessions in Columbia a must
There is no need to hem and haw over whether South Carolina residents should support a shorter legislative session. There is enough hemming and hawing in Columbia for the choice to be clear; we should. We must.
South Carolina has one of the longest sessions in the country at 150 days. We want a shorter legislative session. We need a shorter session. We deserve a shorter session.
The bill calling for such is currently on the Senate calendar. It would shave a month off the session by moving the last day to the first Thursday in May. Currently, legislators meet until the first Thursday in June.
According to the Office of State Budget, a shorter session would save taxpayers more than $420,000 a year. Legislators would meet fewer days and, therefore, would receive fewer days of meal, lodging and mileage reimbursements.
If the savings to the taxpayers isn’t enough of a reason to back the bill, then consider this: less time on their hands leaves representatives with less time to dawdle and posture and introduce frivolous bills they know won’t go anywhere.
It would pressure them to focus more readily on the important issues — like the state’s decrepit road system — which is literally crumbling underfoot, and Medicare funding.
S.C. Sen. Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, said the proposal faces some hurdles: “To be honest, there are a lot of guys who just enjoy being there.”
Lawmakers who enjoy being there for the opportunity to handle the people’s business is good. Lawmakers who enjoy being there because it gets them out of the house at the people’s expense is not good. If that’s the case, we must exercise our power to boot them out of the chamber in Columbia.
A shorter session also would allow elected officials more time for contact with their constituents. There is more to being a South Carolina representative or senator than debating and voting; a lot of their responsibility lies in reaching out to the people who elected them.
Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, said duties often spill over into the weekend, and constituent services such as answering phone calls and emails can sometimes be overlooked.
The entire Aiken County delegation has expressed support for a shorter legislative session. For that, we thank them.
By this time next year, the session may be shorter, but the list of benefits won’t be.