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When the state Senate convenes next month, the issue of transparency will be on the agenda.
Roll call voting, a system of recording each member’s decision on an issue, will be front and center when the General Assembly meets on Jan. 13.
Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler, a Republican from Gaffney, recently filed for a bill that would increase the number of roll call votes.
This is in contrast to the current system of voice votes, where lawmakers simply say “yes” and “no,” but are not held accountable.
Mick Mulvaney, who was recently sworn in as the District 16 senator, approves of roll call voting and spoke of improving government transparency during his recent campaign.
Mulvaney said the government should be held accountable to its citizens, and supports roll call voting as a way to achieve openness.
He and his colleagues discussed the issue in-depth at a recent Republican caucus, debating the merits and potential pitfalls of roll call voting, including how much time it would take to go through a roll call for every vote the Senate takes.
Some senators were concerned that the process could be twisted to create “mini-filibusters,” where roll calls could tie up the floor and keep specific bills from being heard.
“The issue comes down to efficiency and potential abuse,” Mulvaney said.
Overall, the consensus of the Republican caucus was that roll call voting should be established.
Mulvaney said he isn’t sure whether a bill would call for a rules change or the creation of a new law.
Rules changes only last for the four years, whereas a change in the law can last indefinitely, or until it is amended.
Mulvaney favors a rules change.
“A rules change is better because it’s quicker, it’s cleaner and it’s just as effective,” Mulvaney said. “Plus, it’s not subject to frivolous lawsuits.”
Despite the push for the change, some in the Senate think the current system is just fine.
Sen. Brad Hutto, a Democrat from Orangeburg, argues against roll call votes.
In a Dec. 14 letter to The Spartanburg Herald-Journal, Hutto called roll call voting “a recipe for disaster.” He said it would change how representatives work together and ultimately slow down the political process.
Contact reporter Chris Sardelli at firstname.lastname@example.org or at (803) 416-8416