About the only way to find out how South Carolina legislators vote on a particular issue, apparently, is to sit beside them.
For people who don't have that kind of time on their hands, 41 U.S. states require their legislatures to have recorded votes in at least one legislative chamber. Four other states, including Georgia, require recorded votes on revenue bills.
But in South Carolina and just four other states - all in New England - lawmakers are not required to vote on the record when passing bills. In the Palmetto State, lawmakers usually vote by voice. No record, no transparency - just an "aye" or "nay."
It should be blindingly obvious: Citizens who elect leaders to represent them should know how those leaders vote in shaping public policy.
The people want to know how Senator Smith or Representative Jones voted on a spending bill or anti-crime legislation. The people need to know.
But that cornerstone of public accountability is pitifully lacking in the South Carolina Legislature.
Why are South Carolinians robbed of something so basic - to know how their elected state officials vote? No reason is good enough.
State Rep. Nikki Haley, R-Lexington, has been pushing H. 3047, the Spending Accountability Act, which would require that all South Carolina legislative votes be on the record. You won't find many other bills this session that are more commonsense and straightforward.
A subcommittee of the House Ways and Means Committee convenes today in Room 521 of the Blatt Building in Columbia at 2:30 p.m. The first item on the agenda is hearing H. 3047. It must pass this committee if it is to advance to a full House vote for approval.
South Carolinians should not be further deprived of accountability and transparency from their legislators. This bill must pass.