COLUMBIA - Lawmakers will have plenty of work when they return to Columbia on Tuesday, from overriding some of Gov. Nikki Haley's vetoes to discussing bills that are still in discussion limbo.
Several lawmakers have already voiced plans to overturn some of Gov. Nikki Haley's 76 vetoes, including $2 million requested for the lieutenant governor's office. House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, said his office has already received a few emails from members seeking to have their vetoed items overridden.
Harrell said he was surprised by Haley's veto of the $2 million requested by the lieutenant governor's office, adding he expects it to be overridden.
"He made some compelling arguments on the money that was included in the budget for seniors," Harrell said of Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell's speech earlier this year on the status of the state's aging seniors.
Select members of the House and Senate will also be discussing several outstanding measures, including the University of Charleston bill, which aims to create the Lowcountry's first research university.
The issue of contention with that bill lies in the fact that it's attached to the Clemson University Enterprise Act, which would allow Clemson and perhaps other schools to operate with less state oversight in pursuing capital projects.
Another bill Haley axed was one that sought to raise the pay of lawmakers by $1,000 a month. Sen. Paul Thurmond, R-Charleston, said he plans to advocate in favor of sustaining that veto.
"I intend to speak about it briefly again, encouraging the 20 senators that voted against it to begin with to hold the fort," Thurmond said.
The pay bump, however, is something House Majority Leader Rep. Todd Rutherford, D-Columbia, favored. He said it was one of several vetoes he found "troubling."
There's also the ethics bill, which was held up in the Senate during the last day of session, when Sen. Lee Bright, R-Roebuck, successfully filibustered its passing, allowing senators more time to review the measure.
Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, said he believes the ethics bill will pass when Senators return.
"I think it's not everything I wanted," said Martin of the bill. "But there are other parts of that bill that are very important and we need to move forward with it. We'll be back next year. That's an issue that we'll continue to work on."
Meanwhile, the Senate still has a major issue to deal with: who will be its leader. Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell is stepping down to take his new job as president of the College of Charleston on July 1. And Sen. John Courson, R-Columbia, resigned his position as Senate President Pro Tempore on May 28, saying he does not want to give up his longtime seat to become lieutenant governor.
Sen. Yancey McGill, D-Kingstree, said he was considering becoming Senate pro tempore, which would make him next in line to become lieutenant governor when McConnell resigns. Thurmond said he wasn't fond of the idea of a Democrat ascending to a position that could potentially place him running the state, if something were to happen to Haley.
"From my perspective, I wish him well," Thurmond said. "I think he's doing a service that we do need, but at the same time, the reality is that I was elected as a Republican and much more comfortable with putting a Republican in that position."
McConnell has said that he'll hold off from resigning to avoid creating a constitutional crisis for the state. But he's hoping someone steps up to the plate this week, so that he can leave.
"I should've been gone three weeks ago," said McConnell on Thursday. "I'm hoping to be gone by the 19th, but we'll see how things play out."
Cynthia Roldan can be reached at 708-5891.
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