Lawmakers introduce bill to reinstate Charleston airport board members
Lawmakers have introduced a bill to correct a flub made last year when they removed three members of Charleston County Aviation Authority from the board during a rewrite of the state aeronautics code.
House Speaker Bobby Harrell, along with fellow Charleston lawmakers Leon Stavrinakis and Chip Limehouse, submitted the bill Wednesday, the same day The Post and Courier reported the error. It was placed directly on the House calendar without being referred to committee, putting it on the fast track to legislative approval.
The mistake removed North Charleston Mayor Keith Summey, House appointee Spencer Pryor and Senate appointee Pat Waters from the 13-member board.
Their seats were not included in the original legislation that set up the authority in 1970 but were added later through amendments to the aeronautics code.
The bill adds the stricken section of the law that applies to airport board appointments without specifically referring to Charleston.
The law took effect last summer, but the Aviation Authority, which owns and oversees Charleston International Airport, didn’t learn about the error until late last week.
Authority attorney Arnold Goodstein said the affected members can continue to serve until they are told otherwise.
To be safe, Authority Chairman Andy Savage appointed a three-member committee of former lawmakers who serve on the airport board to determine if the board members’ mistaken removal has any effect on airport operations.
He also said votes of all members present during meetings will be recorded from now on.
The original legislation that set up the agency placed seven members on the board. They included the mayor of Charleston, which helped develop airport property in 1931, the chairman of Charleston County Council, two members appointed by the House and two by the Senate, and a member appointed jointly by Charleston City Council and Charleston County Council.
In 1984, lawmakers amended the law so the mayor of North Charleston could serve by adding a section that called for counties with two municipalities that have a population over 50,000 to allow the mayors of both cities to serve.
In 1985, the law was amended again to add two more members: one appointed by the House and another appointed by the Senate and signed off on by the governor.
The 1984 and 1985 amendments were stricken from the aeronautics law last year.
In 1998, lawmakers amended the enabling legislation to add the mayor of Mount Pleasant to the board.
In 2007, a law, co-crafted by Limehouse, placed the chairman and vice chairman of the Charleston County legislative delegation on the board. That law is currently being challenged in court as unconstitutional. It was not part of the aeronautics bill’s revamp last year.
It was also believed that the error affected the appointment of Mount Pleasant Mayor Billy Swails, but the section of law that appointed the mayor of Mount Pleasant in 1998 wasn’t included in the stricken sections of the aeronautics code.
Reach Warren L. Wise at 937-5524 or twitter.com/warrenlancewise.