South Carolina State Senate

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South Carolina State Senate

Seal of South Carolina.jpg
General Information
Type:   Upper house
Partisan control:   Republican Party
Term limits:   None
2015 session start:   January 13, 2015
Website:   Official Senate Page
Senate President:   Henry McMaster (R)
Majority Leader:   Harvey Peeler (R)
Minority Leader:   Nikki Setzler (D)
Members:  46
Length of term:   4 years
Authority:   Art III, Sec 1, South Carolina Constitution
Salary:   $10,400/year + per diem
Last Election:  November 6, 2012 (46 seats)
Next election:  November 8, 2016 (46 seats)
Redistricting:  South Carolina Legislature has control
The South Carolina Senate is the upper house in the South Carolina Legislature. It consists of 46 state senators who are elected to four-year terms without term limits.

Each member represents an average of 100,551 residents, as of the 2010 Census.[1] After the 2000 Census, each member represented 87,218 residents.[2]

As of May 2015, South Carolina is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.

See also: South Carolina State Legislature, South Carolina House of Representatives, South Carolina Governor


Article III of the South Carolina Constitution establishes when the South Carolina State Legislature, of which the Senate is a part, is to be in session. Section 9 of Article III states that the Legislature is to convene on the second Tuesday of January each year. Section 9 allows the General Assembly to recede from session for up to thirty days by a majority vote of the legislative house seeking to recede. Furthermore, one or both houses can recede from session for more than thirty days if that action is approved by two-thirds of the members.


See also: Dates of 2014 state legislative sessions

In 2014, the Legislature was in session from January 14 through June 6.

Major issues

Major issues during the 2014 legislative session included ethics reform and government restructuring.[3]


See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions

In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 through June 20.

Major issues

Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included computer security, improving the state's roads and bridges and addressing healthcare.[4]


See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions

In 2012, the Senate was in session from January 11 through June 7.

Major issues

Legislators addressed a budget surplus of $900 million. Major agenda issues included tax reform, job security measures, reforming the state retirement system, and creating a new school funding formula.


See also: Dates of 2011 state legislative sessions

In 2011, the Senate was in regular session from January 11 through June 2.[5] On June 2, Governor Nikki Haley attempted to call the Legislature into an "emergency" special session to begin on June 7 to create the new South Carolina Department of Administration. A lawsuit was filed by Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell, in which he contended that Haley's call for a special session was unconstitutional, and that it violated the state Constitution's requirement of separation of powers among the governor, legislature and courts.[6] On June 6, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled 3-2 against Governor Haley, stating that her order violated the Legislature's ability to set its calendar and agenda.[7]

The legislature met in a special redistricting session from June 14 - July 1.[8] The legislature re-convened July 26.[9]


See also: Dates of 2010 state legislative sessions

In 2010, the Senate was in session from January 12 to June 3.

Role in state budget

See also: South Carolina state budget and finances
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The state operates on an annual budget cycle. The sequence of key events in the budget process is as follows:[10][11]

  1. In July and August of the year preceding the start of the new fiscal year, the governor sends budget instructions to state agencies.
  2. In September, agencies submit their budget requests to the governor.
  3. Budget hearings are held with state agencies in September and October.
  4. In January the governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature.
  5. Both the House and the Senate pass a budget. If these versions do not match, a conference committee consisting of both House and Senate members is assembled to reconcile the differences.
  6. The legislature must pass a budget with a simple majority by the beginning of the fiscal year, which is July 1. The governor may exercise line item veto power on the enacted budget.

The governor is constitutionally required to submit a balanced budget to the legislature. In turn, the legislature must pass a balanced budget, and any budget signed into law by the governor must be balanced.[11]

A rainy day fund, the General Reserve Fund, must maintain a balance equaling three percent of General Fund revenue. Rainy day funds may be withdrawn only for the purpose of covering operating deficits.[12]

South Carolina is one of 44 states in which the governor has line item veto authority.[11]

Cost-benefit analyses

See also: Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative Cost-Benefit Study
Map showing results of the Pew-MacArthur cost-benefit study.

The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 indicating that cost-benefit analysis in policymaking led to more effective uses of public funds. Looking at data from 2008 through 2011, the study's authors found that some states were more likely to use cost-benefit analysis, while others were facing challenges and lagging behind the rest of the nation. The challenges states faced included a lack of time, money and technical skills needed to conduct comprehensive cost-benefit analyses. South Carolina was one of 11 states that made rare use of cost-benefit analyses in policy and budget processes.[13]

Ethics and transparency

Following the Money report

See also: "Following the Money" report, 2014

The U.S. Public Interest Research Group, a consumer-focused nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., released its annual report on state transparency websites in April 2014. The report, entitled "Following the Money," measured how transparent and accountable state websites are with regard to state government spending.[14] According to the report, South Carolina received a grade of D+ and a numerical score of 63, indicating that South Carolina was "lagging" in terms of transparency regarding state spending.[14]

Open States Transparency

See also: Open States' Legislative Data Report Card

The Sunlight Foundation released an "Open Legislative Data Report Card" in March 2013. South Carolina was given a grade of C in the report. The report card evaluated how adequate, complete and accessible legislative data was to the general public. A total of 10 states received an A: Arkansas, Connecticut, Georgia, Kansas, New Hampshire, New York, North Carolina, Texas, Virginia and Washington.[15]



See also: South Carolina State Senate elections, 2012

Elections for the office of South Carolina State Senate were held in South Carolina on November 6, 2012. A total of 46 seats were up for election.

The signature filing deadline was March 30, 2012 and the primary date was June 12, 2012.

The following table details the 10 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.


South Carolina did not hold any State Senate elections in 2010.


See also: South Carolina State Senate elections, 2008

Elections for the office of South Carolina State Senate consisted of a primary election on June 10, 2008, and a general election on November 4, 2008.

During the 2008 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $11,006,391. The top 10 contributors were:[16]


South Carolina did not hold any State Senate elections in 2006.


See also: South Carolina State Senate elections, 2004

Elections for the office of South Carolina State Senate consisted of a primary election on June 8, 2004, and a general election on November 2, 2004.

During the 2004 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $10,207,188. The top 10 contributors were:[17]


South Carolina did not hold any State Senate elections in 2002.


See also: South Carolina State Senate elections, 2000

Elections for the office of South Carolina State Senate consisted of a primary election on June 13, 2000, and a general election on November 7, 2000.

During the 2000 election, the total value of contributions to Senate candidates was $6,670,088. The top 10 contributors were:[18]


To be eligible to serve in the South Carolina State Senate a candidate must be:[19]

  • A U.S. citizen at the time of filing
  • 21 years old at the filing deadline time
  • A resident of the district at the filing deadline time


See also: How vacancies are filled in state legislatures
How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures
NevadaMassachusettsColoradoNew MexicoWyomingArizonaMontanaCaliforniaOregonWashingtonIdahoTexasOklahomaKansasNebraskaSouth DakotaNorth DakotaMinnesotaIowaMissouriArkansasLouisianaMississippiAlabamaGeorgiaFloridaSouth CarolinaIllinoisWisconsinTennesseeNorth CarolinaIndianaOhioKentuckyPennsylvaniaNew JerseyNew YorkVermontVermontNew HampshireMaineWest VirginiaVirginiaMarylandMarylandConnecticutConnecticutDelawareDelawareRhode IslandRhode IslandMassachusettsNew HampshireMichiganMichiganAlaskaVacancy fulfillment map.png

If there is a vacancy in the senate, a special election must be held to fill the vacant seat. If candidates plan to seek the nomination through a party convention, the filing period begins on the third Friday after the vacancy happened. The qualifying deadline is ten days after the filing period opens.[20]

If a candidate plans to seek the nomination via petition, all signatures must submitted to the appropriate filing officer no later than sixty days before the election. All signatures must be verified by the filing officer no later than 45 days before the election.[21]

A primary election must be held on the eleventh Tuesday after the vacancy occurs. If necessary, a primary runoff must be held on the thirteenth Tuesday after the vacancy occurs. The special election is held on the eighteenth Tuesday after vacancy occurs. No special election can be held less than 60 days before the general election.[21]


The Legislature is tasked with legislative redistricting. In particular, the Senate Judiciary Committee has the responsibility of setting criteria for new districts.

2010 census

South Carolina's population grew 15.3 percent to 4.6 million, making it the 10th fastest growing state in the country. However, this led the state's majority-minority districts to pale in light of the ideal district sizes (37,301 for the House and 100,551 for the Senate). On June 15, 2011, both chambers passed Senate-originated maps, and the U.S. Department of Justice cleared the maps in November 2011. As of July 2012, a federal decision upholding the maps was being appealed by the state Democrats; the 2012 elections are not affected.[22]



See also: Comparison of state legislative salaries

As of 2013, members of the South Carolina Legislature are paid $10,400 a year during legislative sessions. Legislators receive $131 a day for meals and housing for each statewide session day and committee meeting. Per diem is tied to the federal rate.[23]

When sworn in

See also: When state legislators assume office after a general election

South Carolina legislators assume office the Monday after the election.

Partisan composition

See also: Partisan composition of state senates
Party As of May 2015
     Democratic Party 18
     Republican Party 28
Total 46

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the South Carolina State Senate from 1992-2013.
Partisan composition of the South Carolina State Senate.PNG


The Lieutenant Governor serves as President of the Senate.

Current leadership

Current Leadership, South Carolina State Senate
Office Representative Party
President of the Senate Henry McMaster Ends.png Republican
State Senate President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman Ends.png Republican
State Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler Ends.png Republican
State Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler Electiondot.png Democratic

List of current members

Current members, South Carolina State Senate
District Senator Party Assumed office
1 Thomas Alexander Ends.png Republican 1994
2 Larry Martin Ends.png Republican 1992
3 Kevin Bryant Ends.png Republican 2004
4 William O'Dell Ends.png Republican 1988
5 Tom Corbin Ends.png Republican 2012
6 Michael Fair Ends.png Republican 1995
7 Karl Allen Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
8 Ross Turner Ends.png Republican 2012
9 Daniel Verdin Ends.png Republican 2000
10 Floyd Nicholson Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
11 Glenn G. Reese Electiondot.png Democratic 1990
12 Lee Bright Ends.png Republican 2008
13 Shane R. Martin Ends.png Republican 2008
14 Harvey S. Peeler, Jr. Ends.png Republican 1980
15 Wes Hayes Ends.png Republican 1990
16 Chauncey K. Gregory Ends.png Republican 2011
17 Creighton B. Coleman Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
18 Ronnie W. Cromer Ends.png Republican 2003
19 John L. Scott, Jr. Electiondot.png Democratic 2008
20 John E. Courson Ends.png Republican 1994
21 Darrell Jackson Electiondot.png Democratic 1992
22 Joel Lourie Electiondot.png Democratic 2004
23 Katrina Frye Shealy Ends.png Republican 2012
24 Tom Young, Jr. Ends.png Republican 2012
25 A. Shane Massey Ends.png Republican 2007
26 Nikki G. Setzler Electiondot.png Democratic 1976
27 Vincent A. Sheheen Electiondot.png Democratic 2004
28 Greg Hembree Ends.png Republican 2012
29 Gerald Malloy Electiondot.png Democratic 2002
30 Kent Williams Electiondot.png Democratic 2004
31 Hugh Leatherman Ends.png Republican 1980
32 Ronnie Sabb Electiondot.png Democratic 2014
33 Luke A. Rankin Ends.png Republican 1992
34 Raymond Cleary Ends.png Republican 2004
35 J. Thomas McElveen, III Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
36 Kevin L. Johnson Electiondot.png Democratic 2012
37 Lawrence Grooms Ends.png Republican 1997
38 Sean Bennett Ends.png Republican 2012
39 John Matthews Electiondot.png Democratic 1984
40 Brad Hutto Electiondot.png Democratic 1996
41 Paul Thurmond Ends.png Republican 2012
42 Marlon Kimpson Electiondot.png Democratic 2013
43 George Campsen Ends.png Republican 2004
44 Paul Campbell Ends.png Republican 2007
45 Clementa Pinckney Electiondot.png Democratic 2000
46 Tom Davis Ends.png Republican 2008

State Senate Committees

The South Carolina State Senate has 15 standing committees:


Partisan balance 1992-2013

Who Runs the States Project
See also: Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States and Ballotpedia:Who Runs the States, South Carolina
Partisan breakdown of the South Carolina legislature from 1992-2013

From 1992-2013, the Democratic Party was the majority in the South Carolina State Senate for the first nine years while the Republicans were the majority for the last 13 years. South Carolina was under Republican trifectas for the final 11 years of the study.

Across the country, there were 541 Democratic and 517 Republican state senates from 1992 to 2013.

Over the course of the 22-year study, state governments became increasingly more partisan. At the outset of the study period (1992), 18 of the 49 states with partisan legislatures had single-party trifectas and 31 states had divided governments. In 2013, only 13 states had divided governments, while single-party trifectas held sway in 36 states, the most in the 22 years studied.

The chart below shows the partisan composition of the Office of the Governor of South Carolina, the South Carolina State Senate and the South Carolina House of Representatives from 1992-2013. Partisan composition of South Carolina state government(1992-2013).PNG

SQLI and partisanship

To read the full report on the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI) in PDF form, click here.

South Carolina was one of eight states to demonstrate a dramatic partisan shift in the 22 years studied. A dramatic shift was defined by a movement of 40 percent or more toward one party over the course of the study period. South Carolina was Republican-dominated during the years of the study but experienced a shift toward much stronger Republican control, resulting in Republican trifectas from 2003-2013.

The chart below depicts the partisanship of the South Carolina state government and the state's SQLI ranking for the years studied. For the SQLI, the states were ranked from 1-50, with 1 being the best and 50 the worst. South Carolina ranked in the bottom-10 during every year of the study except the most recent. In 2012 it improved, finishing at 38th. The state's worst ranking, finishing 47th, occurred during both divided government and Republican trifectas.

  • SQLI average with Democratic trifecta: N/A
  • SQLI average with Republican trifecta: 44.30
  • SQLI average with divided government: 45.00
Chart displaying the partisanship of the South Carolina government from 1992-2013 and the State Quality of Life Index (SQLI).

State profile

South Carolina's population in 2014 was 4,832,482.

South Carolina's population in 2014 was 4,832,482 according to the United States Census Bureau. This estimate represented a 4.5 percent increase from the bureau's 2010 estimate. The state's population per square mile was 153.9 in 2010, exceeding the national average of 87.4.

South Carolina experienced a 1.8 percent increase in total employment from 2011 to 2012 based on census data, falling below the 2.2 percent increase at the national level during the same period.[24]


South Carolina fell below the national average for residents who attained at least bachelor's degrees based on census data from 2009 to 2013. The United States Census Bureau found that 25.1 percent of South Carolina residents aged 25 years and older attained bachelor's degrees compared to 28.8 percent at the national level.

The median household income in South Carolina was $44,779 between 2009 and 2013 compared to a $53,046 national median income. Census information showed a 18.6 percent poverty rate in South Carolina during the study period compared to a 14.5 percent national poverty rate.[24]

Racial Demographics, 2013[24]
Race South Carolina (%) United States (%)
White 68.3 77.7
Black or African American 27.9 13.2
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.5 1.2
Asian 1.5 5.3
Two or More Races 1.7 2.4
Hispanic or Latino 5.3 17.1

Presidential Voting Pattern, 2000-2012[25][26]
Year Democratic vote in South Carolina (%) Republican vote in South Carolina (%) Democratic vote in U.S. (%) Republican vote in U.S. (%)
2012 44.1 54.6 51.1 47.2
2008 44.9 53.9 52.9 45.7
2004 40.9 58.0 48.3 50.7
2000 40.9 56.8 48.4 47.9

Note: Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" percentage, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one- or two-tenths off. Read more about race and ethnicity in the Census here.[27]

See also

External links


  1., "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
  2. U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
  3., "Legislature Kicks Off With Old Issues On Agenda," January 14, 2014
  4. WJBF, "South Carolina Lawmakers Start Legislative Session Vowing To Protect Your Information And Improve Roads," January 8, 2013
  5. National Conference of State Legislatures, "2011 Legislative Sessions Calendar," accessed June 6, 2014(Archived)
  6. The State, "Haley tells court she has right to call special session," 6 June 2011
  7., "SC Supreme Court Rules Against Nikki Haley's Extra Session," June 6, 2011
  8., "S.C. House to have special session in June," 6 May 2011
  9. The Island Packet, "S.C. Senate OKs new congressional districted anchored in Beaufort County," June 29, 2011
  10. National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
  11. 11.0 11.1 11.2 National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
  12. South Carolina Budget and Control Board, "State Budget - FAQ," accessed February 21, 2014
  13. Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
  14. 14.0 14.1 U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
  15. Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
  16. Follow the Money, "South Carolina 2008 Candidates," accessed July 31, 2013
  17. Follow the Money, "South Carolina 2004 Candidates," accessed July 31, 2013
  18. Follow the Money, "South Carolina 2000 Candidates," accessed July 31, 2013
  19. South Carolina Secretary of State, "Qualifications for office," accessed December 18, 2013
  20. South Carolina State Legislature, "South Carolina Code," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Statute 7-13-190 (A)-(B))
  21. 21.0 21.1 South Carolina State Legislature, "South Carolina Code," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Statute 7-13-190 (B))
  22. The State, "Democrats appeal redistricting lawsuit," March 20, 2012
  23., "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
  24. 24.0 24.1 24.2 United States Census Bureau, "QuickFacts Beta," accessed March 24, 2015
  25. SCIWAY, "Previous SC Elections – 1996-2014," accessed April 17, 2015
  26. The American Presidency Project, "Presidential Elections Data," accessed March 24, 2015
  27. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014