by William Moultrie
Columbia – Tuesday was the last day for state legislators to “pre-file” bills before the legislative session resumes in January. A number of bills have received some notice this year including measures to ban texting or talking on a cell phone while driving, several tax cuts, a few tax increases, and dozens of other popular and unpopular ideas.
Absent from most of the media attention, however, are a slew of proposals from State Representative Preston Brooks (R-Edgefield). Brooks, an ardent supporter of Congressman Joe Wilson (R-SC2), appears to be attempting to change the legislative process in significant ways.
Among Brooks’ proposals:
- Elimination of the “one speaker at a time” tradition.
- By allowing legislators to speak whenever they feel compelled to do so, the chambers will be instantly more democratic leading to a more free-flowing and honest debate.
- Revise the rules of order in the legislative chambers to allow for spontaneous voice votes on passage of bills.
- This measure would speed up the legislative process by allowing bills that already have popular support to be hurried through the process by voice vote as soon as they are introduced.
- Simple majority vote on all measures.
- Getting back to the basics of democracy by allowing any measure, rule, sanction, etc., to pass or fail by a simple majority of the members present in the room when the vote is taken — which can be at any time if the previous bill is passed.
- Instant-override veto protection.
- Would compel the Governor to sign certain designated bill in front of a joint legislative session where vetoes could be overridden with a simple majority voice vote.
Most legislators were unavailable to comment on Brooks’ proposals, though several Republicans indicated off-the-record that they were in favor of the changes.