Change of Pace at the State House

On Wednesday, the Leadership classes from Charleston and Greenville combined forces to visit the State House.

The combined Lowcountry/Upstate Leadership classes began the morning with a lobbyist panel and learned the important role government affairs professionals play in the legislative process and debunked plenty of stereotypes about their daily activity.

Next up, a panel of State House reporters from the Post and Courier and The State described how they cover the General Assembly. They also discussed how reporting often drives debate in Columbia, for example, the Post and Courier’s Minimally Adequate series on the state’s school system as a motivator of this year’s education reform legislation.

After that set up, the group cleared security and entered the State House to experience first-hand the buzz of the lobby and observe from the gallery as the House of Representatives got to work.

Over lunch, the class heard from State Treasurer Curtis Loftis about the issues of the state’s pension system and the day-to-day activities of the Treasurer’s Office. Afterwards, the class walked to the South Carolina Supreme Court where Justice John Few gave an overview of South Carolina’s judicial system and shared stories from cases he’s tried in the past. The day wrapped with a meeting with Lt. Governor Pamela Evette.

Jason Zacher, my counterpart at the Greenville Chamber, and I love organizing this joint program. Not only do we get to showcase our work for a great group of leaders, the day is a welcomed mid-session change of pace.

Shifting to legislative news – the House Education and Public Works K-12 subcommittee met on Tuesday concerning the Speaker’s education reform bill. The evening meeting gave teachers, parents and students the opportunity to provide testimony, and they showed up in droves… so many in fact they needed two overflow rooms where the hearing was broadcast. The meeting began in the afternoon and ran until nearly 11:00 p.m.

Some teachers hammered the legislation saying they should have been included earlier in the process. The most common complaints were pushing for teacher pay increases, lowering class sizes and requesting more time for teacher planning.

Education and Public Works Chairwoman Rita Allison told the group that the pay increases were going to be taken up by the Ways and Means Committee when they begin to develop the budget in a couple of weeks. She also let the attendees know that this was the beginning point for the legislative process on this issue and their concerns would be taken into account.

It’s pretty clear both the House and Senate have their work cut out for them on this legislation. This bill is going to take some time to reach a final product. As always, we will keep you up to date with the latest.

George Ramsey,
CMCC Business Lobbyist

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