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Senator revives roll-call voting with new bill

Roll call voting will likely become an issue again in the South Carolina legislature next year, especially since one senator who opposed a roll-call bill last session is leading a renewed attempt to pass it.

In March, the South Carolina House passed a bill sponsored by then-representative Nikki Haley that would have required both the House and Senate to record who voted for and against most legislation. However, the bill never made it out of the Senate.

Now, Sen. Larry Martin (R-Pickens) has sponsored legislation he says would fix the constitutional problems he had with last session’s bill. Martin says he’s never been against recording votes, but that last year’s bill would have violated the state Constitution.

There is no basis for such a thing in the South Carolina Constitution. (The constitution) requires the House and Senate, separately, to adopt rules of procedure. That would cut against the notion that you could adopt a statute that both houses would have to pass.

Martin has proposed three pieces of legislation: a constitutional amendment, a rules change in the Senate, and a bill similar to last year’s. He says the problem with the old bill was that the state’s courts would have been able to strike down the law as unconstitutional.

Roll call voting is when legislators vote alphabetically, and their subsequent votes are recorded. Currently, such votes are only required if the bill involves taxes, funding, or certain other issues.

He said any senate rules not explicitly mentioned in the Constitution can only be decided by senate leaders.

Martin says he thinks the time has come for roll-call voting in both houses.

We live in a day where voters are demanding…a greater awareness and a better ability to know how their legislator or senate member voted on whatever bill might be of interest to them, and I think they have a right to know that.

The bill heads to the Senate Judiciary Committee.

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