COLUMBIA ó A bill that would have strengthened the stateís Freedom of Information law died in the state Senate after a Democrat placed a legislative block on the measure.
Among many changes, the bill would have reduced costs public bodies can charge in response to open-records requests, forced bodies to make certain records available for immediate inspection and put an end to more than month-long waits for public information.
Sen. John Scott, D-Columbia, said he blocked the bill because he didnít think it had received enough review after passing the House earlier in the session.
And lawmakers needed more time to consider how the changes to the S.C. Freedom of Information Act would impact state and local agencies who would have to meet the new standards, he said.
The bill was assigned to a Senate subcommittee but was never debated there after it was fast-tracked to the Senate Judiciary Committee by Chairman Larry Martin, R-Pickens.
After clearing the committee, it went to the Senate, where it stalled.
ďUntil we can have some real debate on that bill, and I know what the subcommittee recommends, Iím not going to pass a bill like that out of here,Ē Scott said of his block.
Senators could have overcome Scottís objection with a two-thirds vote.
Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, had been the lone senator blocking the bill until he removed his objection on Tuesday.
But Scott quickly placed his block on the measure.
Bill supporters had long figured the measure faced its toughest test in the Senate, where legislative rules make it easier to put the brakes on bills.
Also at issue was a controversial amendment added to the bill just before it passed the House that would have lifted the exemption in state law that allows state legislators to keep their emails and other internal correspondence closed.
The S.C. Press Association said the amendment injected politics into the bill and made it less likely that the original, more straightforward bill would clear the Legislature.
The associationís executive director, Bill Rogers, said in a Thursday letter to members that the press group plans to work with the billís sponsor, Rep. Bill Taylor, R-Aiken, to bring the measure back next year.
Bills such as Taylorís that donít pass in the second year of a two-year session must start from scratch the following year.
Taylor said this week that he plans to reintroduce his bill next year and work with Sen. Mike Rose, R-Summerville, to introduce a companion measure in the Senate.
Reach Stephen Largen at 864-641-8172 and follow him on Twitter @stephen largen.