South Carolina State Senate
|South Carolina State Senate|
|2014 session start:||January 14, 2014|
|Website:||Official Senate Page|
|Senate President:||Glenn McConnell (R)|
|Majority Leader:||Harvey Peeler (R)|
|Minority leader:||Nikki Setzler (D)|
Democratic Party (17)
Republican Party (28)Vacant (1)
|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|
|Redistricting:||South Carolina Legislature has control|
- 1 Sessions
- 2 Ethics and transparency
- 3 Elections
- 4 Redistricting
- 5 Senators
- 6 State Senate Committees
- 7 History
- 8 External links
- 9 References
As of October 2014, South Carolina is one of 23 Republican state government trifectas.
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 during the 2014 legislative session included ethics reform and government restructuring.
- See also: Dates of 2013 state legislative sessions
In 2013, the Legislature was in session from January 8 through June 20.
Major issues in the 2013 legislative session included computer security, improving the state's roads and bridges and addressing healthcare.
- See also: Dates of 2012 state legislative sessions
In 2012, the Senate was in session from January 11 through June 7.
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. 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. 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.
- 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
- In July and August of the year preceding the start of the new fiscal year, the governor sends budget instructions to state agencies.
- In September, agencies submit their budget requests to the governor.
- Budget hearings are held with state agencies in September and October.
- In January the governor submits his or her proposed budget to the state legislature.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
The Pew-MacArthur Results First Initiative released a report in July 2013 which indicated 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. Among the challenges states faced were 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.
Ethics and transparency
Following the Money report
- See also: Following the Money 2014 Report
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. 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.
Open States Transparency
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 is 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.
The following table details the 10 districts with the smallest margin of victory in the November 6 general election.
|2012 Margin of Victory, South Carolina State Senate|
|District||Winner||Margin of Victory||Total Votes||Top Opponent|
|District 10||Floyd Nicholson||7.1%||37,852||Jennings McAbee, Sr.|
|District 23||Katrina Shealy||7.4%||32,735||John Knotts|
|District 35||Thomas McElveen||9.7%||40,997||Tony Barwick|
|District 41||Paul Thurmond||11.6%||49,968||Paul Tinkler|
|District 20||John Courson||21%||42,923||Robert Rikard|
|District 26||Nikki Setzler||21%||36,177||Deedee Vaughters|
|District 2||Larry Martin||29.1%||37,285||Rex Rice|
|District 12||Lee Bright||29.1%||44,583||Henri Thompson|
|District 7||Karl Allen||31%||33,651||Jane Kizer|
|District 28||Greg Hembree||32.4%||39,499||Butch Johnson|
South Carolina did not hold any State Senate elections in 2010.
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:
|2008 Donors, South Carolina State Senate|
|Elliott, Dick F||$402,000|
|Cromer, Ronnie W||$175,000|
|South Carolina Bank & Trust||$101,134|
|Davis, Thomas C||$95,566|
|Senate Republican Caucus Of South Carolina||$91,925|
|Senate Democratic Caucus Of South Carolina||$65,000|
South Carolina did not hold any State Senate elections in 2006.
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:
|2004 Donors, South Carolina State Senate|
|Norwood, Timothy F||$648,935|
|Cromer, Ronnie W||$236,000|
|Bryant, Kevin L||$143,848|
|Kuhn, John R||$140,783|
|Cmte To Elect Chuck Allen||$137,000|
|Wukela, Steve J||$102,000|
|Jones, Richard C (Dickie)||$100,100|
|Senate Republican Caucus Of South Carolina||$83,000|
South Carolina did not hold any State Senate elections in 2002.
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:
|2000 Donors, South Carolina State Senate|
|Leatherman, Hugh Kenneth||$297,500|
|Senate Republican Caucus Of South Carolina||$116,000|
|Rice Jr, E Blair||$101,000|
|California Manufactured Housing Institute||$48,100|
|South Carolina Automobile Dealers Association||$42,720|
|South Carolina Optometric Association||$39,050|
|Lawson, Blane H||$38,428|
To be eligible to serve in the South Carolina State Senate a candidate must be:
- 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
| How Vacancies are filled in State Legislatures |
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.
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.
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.
The Legislature is tasked with legislative redistricting. In particular, the Senate Judiciary Committee has the responsibility of setting criteria for new districts.
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.
- 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.
When sworn in
South Carolina legislators assume office the Monday after the election.
- See also: Partisan composition of state senates
|Party||As of October 2014|
The Lieutenant Governor serves as President of the Senate.
|Current Leadership, South Carolina State Senate|
|President of the Senate||Glenn McConnell||Republican|
|State Senate President Pro Tempore||John Courson||Republican|
|State Senate Majority Leader||Harvey Peeler||Republican|
|State Senate Minority Leader||Nikki Setzler||Democratic|
List of current members
State Senate Committees
The South Carolina State Senate has 15 standing committees:
- Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee, South Carolina State Senate
- Banking and Insurance Committee, South Carolina State Senate
- Corrections and Penology Committee, South Carolina State Senate
- Education Committee, South Carolina State Senate
- Ethics Committee, South Carolina State Senate
- Finance Committee, South Carolina State Senate
- Fish, Game and Forestry Committee, South Carolina State Senate
- General Committee, South Carolina State Senate
- Interstate Cooperation Committee, South Carolina State Senate
- Invitations Committee, South Carolina State Senate
- Judiciary Committee, South Carolina State Senate
- Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee, South Carolina State Senate
- Medical Affairs Committee, South Carolina State Senate
- Rules Committee, South Carolina State Senate
- Transportation Committee, South Carolina State Senate
Partisan balance 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.
SQLI and partisanship
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
- census.gov, "Population Distribution and Change: 2000 to 2010," accessed May 15, 2014
- U.S. Census Bureau, "States Ranked by Population: 2000," April 2, 2001
- wspa.com, "Legislature Kicks Off With Old Issues On Agenda," January 14, 2014
- WJBF, "South Carolina Lawmakers Start Legislative Session Vowing To Protect Your Information And Improve Roads," January 8, 2013
- National Conference of State Legislatures, "2011 Legislative Sessions Calendar," accessed June 6, 2014(Archived)
- The State, "Haley tells court she has right to call special session," 6 June 2011
- Wltx.com, "SC Supreme Court Rules Against Nikki Haley's Extra Session," June 6, 2011
- TheSunNews.com, "S.C. House to have special session in June," 6 May 2011
- The Island Packet, "S.C. Senate OKs new congressional districted anchored in Beaufort County," June 29, 2011
- National Conference of State Legislatures, "State Experiences with Annual and Biennial Budgeting," updated April 2011
- National Association of State Budget Officers, "Budget Processes in the States, Summer 2008," accessed February 21, 2014
- South Carolina Budget and Control Board, "State Budget - FAQ," accessed February 21, 2014
- Pew Charitable Trusts, "States’ Use of Cost-Benefit Analysis," July 29, 2013
- U.S. Public Interest Research Group, "Following the Money 2014 Report," accessed April 15, 2014
- Sunlight Foundation, "Ten Principles for Opening Up Government Information," accessed June 16, 2013
- Follow the Money, "South Carolina 2008 Candidates," accessed July 31, 2013
- Follow the Money, "South Carolina 2004 Candidates," accessed July 31, 2013
- Follow the Money, "South Carolina 2000 Candidates," accessed July 31, 2013
- South Carolina Secretary of State, "Qualifications for office," accessed December 18, 2013
- South Carolina State Legislature, "South Carolina Code," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Statute 7-13-190 (A)-(B))
- South Carolina State Legislature, "South Carolina Code," accessed December 18, 2013(Referenced Statute 7-13-190 (B))
- The State, "Democrats appeal redistricting lawsuit," March 20, 2012
- NCSL.org, "2012 State Legislator Compensation and Per Diem Table," accessed March 18, 2013
State of South Carolina
|State executive officers||
Governor | Lieutenant Governor | Attorney General | Secretary of State | Comptroller General | Treasurer | State Auditor | Superintendent of Education | Director of Insurance | Commissioner of Agriculture | Director of Natural Resources | Director of Labor, Licensing and Regulation | Chairman of Public Service Commission |