COLUMBIA - The nation's youngest lieutenant governor might be taking on responsibilities for dealing with the state's senior citizens.
The House and Senate agreed in the state budget that Lt. Gov. Andre Bauer, 35, should be responsible for running the Bureau of Senior Services.
The bureau now operates as part of the Department of Health and Human Services.
People who have held Mr. Bauer's office for decades have tried to expand its mission beyond the basics of presiding over the state Senate and waiting in the wings to replace a dead or incapacitated governor.
"More than anything, I just want to get out and be an advocate for senior citizens," said Mr. Bauer, who served in the state House and Senate from 1997 until 2002.
Gov. Mark Sanford endorses the move, as do some local Council on Aging groups.
"The lieutenant governor is looking for ways to grow the role of that office," Sanford spokesman Will Folks said.
"Lt. Gov. Bauer will be a champion for the cause of seniors," said Deborah Bower, the executive director of Senior Resources in Richland County and the president of a state councils on aging association.
Mr. Bauer, who has volunteered with local senior programs and delivered for Meals on Wheels, said it would be a good fit.
The new responsibility, if approved in a compromise version of the state budget next week, would increase his office's $240,000 budget by $26.6 million in mostly federal aid. His staff of three would increase to 21.