Knock on wood. This could be the year the S.C. Senate gets some important business done.
Let’s hope so.
The Senate Judiciary Committee has already approved two bills, one to fix the poorly constructed law regarding filing to run for elected office, and one to shut down sweepstakes gaming machines.
Granted, the campaign filing bill was expected to be handled with dispatch. It’s more like making basic house repairs than adding a wing.
Elections in 2012 were a mess, with 250 candidates eliminated from running because of confusion over how financial-disclosure forms had to be filed.
The Senate bill would clear the fog — and just as importantly would address an inadvertent advantage now given to incumbents.
They are not required to file financial disclosure forms when filing as candidates because, as incumbents, they did so previously. Only new candidates are required to file the forms.
The bill that has been sent to the full Senate from the Judiciary Committee would require such filings from all candidates — incumbents and new — on the same schedule. That is only fair.
And while some say Judiciary Committee Chairman Larry Martin, R-Pickens, is being hasty, he says lots of debate is sure to come. He is right to get the issue on the table where it can be vetted and passed into law.
If experience is any indication, the committee’s bill to stop the use of sweepstakes gaming machines could be more controversial.
There is no question that the machines intend to reap the profits enjoyed by video poker in its heyday, while avoiding the ban on video poker machines.
But the gaming industry has a powerful lobby. And some legislators, including Sen. Robert Ford, D-Charleston, would prefer the state legalize such machines and benefit from the revenue they produce.
The General Assembly should remember the debates about video poker — the stories of parents losing the grocery money, and leaving children unattended in cars while they feed their gambling addiction.
Sweepstakes machines look a little different from video poker machines, and work a little differently.
But the problems associated with them appear much the same. South Carolina can’t afford that — from a financial or a human perspective.
Sen. Martin and his committee have made wise steps to clarify what the General Assembly already has legislated. Both issues require full legislative follow through this session.