Originally created 05/11/02

Shorten session



South Carolina's House of Representatives has once again passed a bill to shorten the legislative session. It would reduce the session by two weeks instead of five, as last year's House measure called for.

Both of these bills are a far cry from the proposal by Gov. Jim Hodges and House Speaker David Wilkins, R-Greenville, to cut the session to 60 days, although that could be accomplished easily enough.

If Georgia, which is a much larger state both geographically and in population, can complete its legislative business by mid-March, South Carolina shouldn't have to drag its session out until June.

But even this year's more modest bill, proposed by state Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston, has little likelihood of getting passed. The obstacle, as it always is when it comes to cutting the session, is the upper chamber.

Powerful Senate president pro tem and Judiciary Chairman Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, opposes shortening the session even by just a few weeks although, as Limehouse points out, it would get lawmakers home in time to fully participate in their communities' Memorial Day celebrations.

McConnell, however, is not moved by a little thing like patriotism. The Associated Press reports he's deep-sixed the Limehouse bill to a subcommittee where it's barely gurgling.

Republicans are supposed to be the anti-tax, anti-big spending party, but it's hard to see how McConnell advances that agenda.

Estimates are that each day the General Assembly is in session costs taxpayers $60,000. That's something for Palmetto Staters to think about as they listen to their state senators whine about the tight budget they have to deal with.