SC Roads Bill Filibuster Changes Hands

February 25, 2016



Republican Tom Davis ended his four-week filibuster on Wednesday night, which began last year, just before handing the microphone over to Republican Sen. Lee Bright. Davis spoke for nearly seven hours in the Senate on Tuesday about the need to change the DOT Commission instead of just sending it more money.

Bright said the roads bill filibuster Davis began last May will continue with other senators expected to keep the pressure on from the podium. South Carolina Republicans seek to reform how the state's DOT is populated in hopes of opening up the commission to more than a few politicians. Withholding new money is their method of choice.

Davis launched his filibuster last May after the $400 million House-approved roads bill was amended by the Senate Finance Committee. When it hit the floor following limited committee debate, it featured $700 million in dedicated road money thanks to a 12-cent gas tax increase and other vehicle-related fee increases.

Governor Nikki Haley has said she would veto any bill that didn’t have reform to the Department of Transportation, a 10-cent gas tax increase, and a reduction of the income tax rate by two percentage points. Only variations of the governor’s plan have been put forth.

In the meantime, outside groups are stepping up pressure as the debate drags on with no action. The South Carolina Chamber of Commerce is displeased with the lawmakers' pace and have floated the idea of withholding support for incumbent senators in upcoming elections.

Chamber President Ted Pitts said, “Quite frankly, it continues to frustrate the business community that we keep being told ‘we want to fix our infrastructure,’ but we’re not seeing any sizable actions to get to the issue.”

Email campaigns are hitting home districts ahead of the March filings for re-election. “Outside groups continue to hit my district with messages, over and over again, to imply that I’m the author of the straight up gasoline tax,” Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Charleston, said. “I’m receiving emails telling me to ‘vote against the Larry Grooms amendment to increase the gas tax.’ ”

Filibuster: A parliamentary procedure where debate over a proposed piece of legislation is extended, allowing one or more members to delay or entirely prevent a vote on the proposal. It is sometimes referred to as 'talking a bill to death' and characterized as a form of obstruction in a legislature or other decision-making body. The term originally comes from the Dutch vrijbuiter, meaning pirate or robber.

Source: Post and Courier