COLUMBIA, S.C. — Six years after South Carolina voters passed a constitutional amendment to have lieutenant governors on the same ticket as candidates for governor, the Legislature still hasn’t passed the bill to put that change into law.
The 2018 election was supposed to be the first under the ticket system, but election officials warn they may seek legal advice if the House and Senate can’t agree since filing for the governor’s race and others starts in March.
The Senate passed a bill last year saying a nominee for governor would name a lieutenant governor nominee like the system for U.S. president, and they would both run in the general election.
The House passed a similar bill, but added a proposal to raise pay for other statewide officials and judges and establish a committee to review salaries every four years.
A conference committee meeting scheduled for Wednesday to hash out the differences was canceled abruptly.
“This is one of the most egregious things I’ve seen in my years of service. Implementation of a constitutional amendment is about to burn and crash because you’ve got some elected officials and some judges who want to hijack this process to give themselves a pay raise,” Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Isle of Palms, told The Post and Courier of Charleston.
But House members said it isn’t fair to adjust the lieutenant governor’s salary without looking at other statewide officials. “All of them need to be fed out of the same spoon,” said Rep. Murrell Smith, R-Sumter.
House members want to talk about the pay in a separate measure, but don’t want the idea to disappear, Smith said.
If the House and Senate can’t pass a bill in the next month or so, State Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said the agency will seek advice from government or outside lawyers. Candidate filing is set to begin March 16 for the June primaries.
“We believe they understand the importance of having the rules in place prior to candidate filing,” Whitmire said.
Information from: The Post and Courier, http://www.postandcourier.com