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Thursday, May 13, 2010

There Is NO Recorded voting in South Carolina's General Assembly

There Is NO Recorded voting in South Carolina's General Assembly

Undocumented SC legislators voting means no accountability for anything that is done.

A state senator or house member can vote on a voice vote and it is not recorded. They pass bills anonymously with unrecorded voice votes.

When I first heard about the lack of recorded voting in our General Assembly, my first reaction was disbelief. How can it be? If I want to research how my representative voted on a piece of legislation, 92% of the time, that information is not there! Most of the time, they pass bills anonymously with unrecorded voice votes. What we need is to have their votes recorded by a "roll call".

Be sure to scroll to the bottom of this message to see a sample of bills that were passed in 2009 in SC with only an anonymous voice vote. Go ahead and ask your representative how they voted on one of those bills. I bet they will tell you exactly what they think you want to hear.

There is no accountability with a voice vote. It is our right to know how they vote. Now we must demand a roll call on all significant legislation.

Here are the facts:

As reported in the Free Times, the results of a SC Policy Council study states that in the 117th session of the General Assembly (2007-2008) only 8% of the votes in the SC House of Representatives were recorded. Only 1% in the SC Senate. The rest of their votes were unrecorded voice votes. SC ranks dead last in this category compared to other states. How can we know if we want to re-elect our state representatives and senators if we cannot even know how they have voted on things that are important to us?

For 2009, Representative Nikki Haley introduced H3047 and Senator Harvey Peeler introduced S11. These are two identical bills that if passed, will require a recorded vote on all significant legislation.

In an effort to undermine the public outcry to pass these bills, the House and Senate leadership changed their rules to require more roll call votes. Still, in 2009, the General Assembly voted anonymously 75% of the time according to the SC Policy council.

We must demand our right to know how our representatives vote. The house and senate must be pressured to pass H3047 and S11. In the 2010 legislative session, we will be working to get his law passed. Please be prepared to act quickly when you receive an ACTION ALERT. The ACTION ALERT will have specific items for you to do, such as call your representative, write a letter to the editor of your local paper, or attend a subcommittee meeting. Everyone will not be able to do every item listed on the alert. But if everyone does what they can, it will be enough. Then we will get this law passed. It will be a big step forward in holding our elected representatives accountable!
Here is what has happened so far with H3047:

12/9/2008 - Prefiled in the House by Nikki Haley with 37 co-sponsors. That is a huge number of co-sponsors and was very encouraging.

1/13/09 - The bill was referred to the Ways and Means committee, chaired by Danny Cooper.

1/13/09 to 5/22/09 - The bill gained 9 more sponsors due to faithful phone and e-mail contacts from constituents to their representatives.

4/21/09 - A Ways and Means subcommittee reports the bill favorably to the full committee. This was a huge victory in the battle with house leadership. This bill was set to die in this subcommittee. With four members on the committee, only two were co-sponsors. One was dead set against it, and the chair of the committee was making no commitment. We needed a majority vote to get a favorable report, and we didn't have it.

However, we did have dozens of supporters who showed up to speak in favor of the bill. The room was packed and we had a local TV reporter there with a camera man. As the meeting started, Chairperson Denny Neilson reviewed the list of people who had signed up to speak and saw that it was quite lengthy. She asked if maybe we could just send up a couple of representative speakers. Brian White, the one committee member who was dead set against the bill, asked if there was anyone there to speak against the bill. Seeing that there was no one to speak against the bill, he surprised us and moved that the bill be given a favorable report. The sub-committee voted unanimous to give the bill a favorable report to the whole committee. Victory! The bill was scheduled for a hearing by the full committee the following day.

We saw the effect of having dozens of witnesses there to record and report how they voted. Had we not been there, the vote would likely have gone against us with no record of who voted for and who voted against the bill. This is a good example of why we must have recorded votes, even at the subcommittee level. With accountability, our representatives often vote they way the should. With no accountability, we have no such hope.

4/22/09 - Subcommittee chairperson Denny Neilson had her name added as a co-sponsor.

Also, The bill should have been heard by the full Ways and Means committee. However, we began to see the devious tricks played by the House leadership. The Ways and Means committee was scheduled to meet an hour after the House adjourns for the day. That normally happens at 2 PM. Bobby Harrell, speaker of the house, who opposes this bill, held the house in session until after 5PM. So the Ways and Means committee did not meet. He did not want a repeat of what happened the day before. He would rather have the committee meet with no witnesses, so that the bill could be voted down without individual accountability.

We watched and waited for the Ways and Means committee to be scheduled to meet so that we could notify all the folks who wanted to be there to speak and witness the vote. Chairman Danny Cooper never scheduled his committee to meet. Until the House adjourned for the year, on May 22nd, a full month later, the committee never met. Normally they meet every week. Danny Cooper and Bobby Harrell know that no one can credibly oppose this bill. When it comes up for a vote, anyone who votes against it will be known to have something to hide. The only way they can prevent this bill from becoming law, is to prevent a vote on the bill.

This will be one to watch carefully. We cannot let them sneak a vote through without being there to provide accountability.

3/24/2010 - Nikki Haley made a motion to recall the bill from committee. No one objected and so it was done.

3/25/2010 - The bill was unanimously approved by the House on a Roll Call vote 104-0.

Here is what has happened so far with S11:

12/10/08 - prefiled by Harvey Peeler with 23 co-sponsors. That is half the Senate. If it ever comes up for a vote by the full senate, it would pass in a heart beat!

1/13/09 - Referred to Judiciary committee. This is Senator Glenn McConnell's committee. He is the President Pro Tempore of the Senate. If he wanted it passed, it would pass very quickly. However, McConnell has spoken publically against the bill.

1/23/09 - Referred to a Judiciary sub-committee chaired by Larry Martin. Jake Knotts and Robert Ford are the other two members of this subcommittee. There it has been ever since. No hearing, No vote. Nothing!

A conversation with Jake Knotts in March of this year (2009). He is my Senator and I hoped I might get his support. After 10 or 15 minutes of conversation, it was clear to me that he would not support this bill. So, I politely commented to him, "So, Senator, I suppose when this bill comes up for a vote in sub-committee, you won't be supporting it". He replied, "I don't even know what sub-committee it is in." I told him it was in his sub-committee. He looked over the top of his glasses and smiled as he said, "That bill will never come up for a vote."


TellerIP said...

All US citizens who were born in the USA (including Obama, born in Hawaii as his birth certificate shows) are Natural Born Citizens. The only US citizens who are not Natural Born Citizens are naturalized citizens.

“Natural born citizen. Persons who are born within the jurisdiction of a national government, i.e. in its territorial limits, or those born of citizens temporarily residing abroad.” — Black’s Law Dictionary, Sixth Edition

That is why such prominent conservative Senators who are also lawyers as Orren Hatch and Lindsay Graham say that a Natural Born Citizen is simply one who was born in the USA:

Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC), said:

“Every child born in the United States is a natural-born United States citizen except for the children of diplomats.” (December 11, 2008 letter to constituent)

Senator Orrin G. Hatch (R-UT), said:

“What is a natural born citizen? Clearly, someone born within the United States or one of its territories is a natural born citizen.” (Senate Judiciary Committee hearing hearing on OCTOBER 5, 2004)

Story Reports said...

What does voting in the SC general assembly have to do with barack obama. Nothing. Teller IP must be a computer generated fake auto post or something.

TellerIP said...

You asked about voting in the SC Assembly. I was not commenting on that. I was commenting on this, which is also on your site:

"Obama wants you to believe he was born in Hawaii. Obama has offered proof that CAN’T BE VERIFIED. A document that was DOA and still is."

The above is not correct because the Certification of Live Birth is the official birth certificate of Hawaii. And because Hawaii does not and did not in 1961 allow a birth document of any kind to be issued that said on it "born in Hawaii" unless there was proof that the person was born in Hawaii. Obama's birth certificate says "born in Hawaii," and the facts on it were confirmed twice by the top officials of the Department of Health of Hawaii and once by the governor of Hawaii.

And, since he was born in the USA, Obama is a Natural Born Citizen, as is every child born in the USA who becomes a citizen.