SC House changes roads bill setting up showdown

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) – The South Carolina House has changed the Senate’s road bill, likely setting up an end-of-the-session showdown over road funding and the operation of the state’s highway agency.

The amendment allowing the House and Senate together to approve the governor’s appointments for commissioners to the Department of Transportation’s board passed 113-6 on Wednesday.

Currently, the governor appoints the DOT director and one board member, while legislators get to pick the other seven members by U.S. congressional districts. The Senate bill allowed only senators to approve the appointments.

Gov. Nikki Haley says the House will kill the bill by changing it. The Senate is unlikely to accept the House’s changes.

The House’s budget this year does provide an additional $400 million for roads.

House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement after the House amended the Senate version of the roads bill (H.3579) by an overwhelming vote of 113-6.

Today, the South Carolina House amended a partial bill and filled in the gaps so that it better provides for the needs of our citizens,” House Speaker Jay Lucas stated.  “The legislative process exists so that the General Assembly can work together to move South Carolina forward, not provide opportunities for political grandstanding. The House’s amendment preserves qualifications and requirements for Highway Commissioners, solidifies the transparency of the State Infrastructure Bank, and removes irresponsible budgeting practices that threaten the stability of our economy.

The Legislative Audit Council’s report serves as a critical tool for the General Assembly and exposes insufficiencies within SCDOT. Although a majority of the Senate requested this study, they passed their amendment days before it was available and could not rely on its finding as a basis for their reform measures. The House could not in good faith pass the Senate amendment because it falls short of true reform,” Speaker Lucas continued.

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