S.C. roads debate heads to week six

A large pothole on Ashley Avenue near Bee Street stretches far into the left lane in downtown Charleston.

COLUMBIA — The South Carolina Senate ended its fifth week of session without a vote on a roads funding bill, but there’s apparent momentum to continue the debate next week.

Senate President Pro Tem Hugh Leatherman, R-Florence, announced that the Senate Finance and Judiciary committees canceled their meetings Tuesday to clear way for the debate.

“That’s probably a good indicator,” Leatherman said of the decision. “We need to get to the bill and start taking votes and find out where the body is on this issue, but we really won’t know until we start taking votes.”

Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, continued his filibuster Thursday, but only spoke for an hour before Leatherman got unanimous approval for the Senate to adjourn.

Davis wants to see changes to the state Department of Transportation Commission and the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank before more money is sent to repair roads.

“To do what the Senate Finance Committee did last year ... to strip out any reforms to the DOT and the SIB that would restore some accountability,” Davis said of the current House-approved bill in the Senate. “Raising our gas tax by 75 percent and putting it into the same system, that is gross legislative malfeasance if we allow that to occur.”

A current proposal generates more than $650 million for roads, in part from a 12-cent gas tax increase over three years.