Taking their time, your money

South Carolina lawmakers go overtime to get very little done

South Carolina has to have the most inefficient governing body in the developed world.

And there’s no incentive to change things.

The Palmetto State’s legislature already meets for five months – tops in the Southeast, and among the leading time-wasters among the 50 states.

But even that’s not good enough for these guys. This year, the legislature failed to get its work done on time, and will charge taxpayers extra for a “special session” starting June 19 to get its work done. Lawmakers also will likely have to return a week later to deal with gubernatorial vetoes and tie up other loose strings.

“Despite the long session,” notes the South Carolina Policy Council’s The Nerve, “legislation does not get passed or introduced on a larger scale than in other states.”

Not that everything was left undone. Lawmakers roared to the end of their regular session with a flurry of greetings and goodbyes to state retirees.

Indeed, as the Associated Press noted Thursday, “The South Carolina Legislature’s regular session ended Thursday with the budget, pension reform and government restructuring still in limbo.”

So, longer sessions don’t even guarantee that the basic functions of government will be covered!

But they still have time to delve into what Gov. Nikki Haley may or may not have done as a legislator.

Maybe if they spent more time worrying about what they are doing, they could get their work done on time.

One of the major casualties of the session is a bill that would have increased South Carolinians’ access to the public records they own, and perhaps decrease the cost and time of getting to them.

Perhaps one reason the measure failed: It would’ve made legislative correspondence open to public view.

Another reason: Granting citizens more access to government records just wasn’t a priority for many lawmakers. “I’ve not gone through the bill; there’s not enough time to go through the bill,” Sen. John Scott, D-Richland, was quoted as telling The Nerve.

Not enough time? The bill was initially pre-filed in December 2010.

Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, a proponent of the freedom of information bill, also blamed Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, for blocking debate on it.

What is it with these people?

You don’t think South Carolina’s freedom of information laws need reforming? Consider this report, also from The Nerve:

“It’s been nearly two years since Swansea resident Alberta Wasden filed an S.C. Freedom of Information Act request seeking town ordinances, financial statements and meeting minutes for the small Lexington County community.

“Thanks in part to South Carolina’s weak FOIA law, she’s still waiting. ...

“‘Most recently, I paid $186 and got fewer than 40 pages of information from the town for a request I made regarding a $250,000 grant the town got for a fountain along Highway 6 – and the information wasn’t even complete,’ Wasden said.”

The only law one can firmly count on South Carolina legislators to pass each year is Parkinson’s Law: “Work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

Except that, if you’re a South Carolina lawmaker, you can expand the time too!

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