There are big changes ahead for the often-contentious Charleston County Aviation Authority, with five seats open as of June 1. And there will be more changes if the Legislature can revoke an ill-considered law that gives the chairman and vice-chairman of the local legislative delegation positions on the board.
So far, though, that seems unlikely to happen, according to reporter Warren Wise. That's mainly because Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston, wants the process to go through the courts rather than allowing the General Assembly to put an end to the legislative overreach inherent in giving lawmakers spots on the board.
And, as Mr. Wise noted, Rep. Limehouse can block the corrective measure in a conference committee on which he serves.
Better that Mr. Limehouse give a break to the courts, and to those citizens who have challenged the law as unconstitutional.
Former Aviation Authority member Waring Howe and Edward Sloan, founder of the S.C. Public Interest Foundation, have separately challenged the law.
Indeed, Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Isle of Palms, who is the county's legislative delegation vice chairman, has refused to serve on the authority because of its questionable constitutionality. He cites the proscription against dual office-holding and he contends that the law also violate the state's constitutional separation of powers, which prohibits legislators from executing the laws they pass.
Rep. Limehouse tells us he is interested in re-examining the way that authority members are chosen. It's worth exploring, and one way to start the process would be to eliminate the bad law that puts legislators on the local board.
One possibility that has been mentioned is expanding the number of members from Berkeley and Dorchester counties, reflecting the regional importance of the Charleston International Airport.
The authority saw a particularly divisive year in 2013 with the departure of the long-term executive director and the rapid hiring of state Sen. Paul Campbell, R-Goose Creek, to take over that job.
Changes in the authority membership may ensure a more compatible board, though that shouldn't guide the selection. There's room for discussion, debate and even dispute on the board. But there isn't room for the delegation's leadership to sit on the board, and attempt to influence local aviation issues either directly or via their proxies.
The local delegation should support changing the 2007 law, and do so without delay.
Haven't they heard of Home Rule?
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