Three weeks into the 2008 Legislative Session, I have come to the conclusion that some changes need to take place in the South Carolina House of Representatives because I think that we waste an enormous amount of time. If you have followed the House calendar thus far, you would agree that we have not had very much legislative action on the House floor and the only reasoning that I see behind actually going into Session each day is to record attendance and introduce bills. We did take up an important rule change dealing with earmarks, but that could have been taken up anytime prior to the budget. Here are my thoughts - which might formulate into a piece of legislation:
There has been talk in the past of shortening the Legislative Session. I don't think we should shorten it - just reorganize our order of business:
For the first four weeks of the Session, sub-committees and committees should meet - just like they are doing now. If you are a member of the sub-committee or committee, have a bill before one of these committees, or if you are interested in the topic/hearing, etc., then you come to Columbia. If you have legislative work to do during this time, you come to Columbia. There would be no floor time....no recorded attendance.
If you are there during the first four weeks, you record your attendance with the desk administrator on your office floor and you will get paid normal per diem, mileage, etc. just like now. the only savings for the House would be for the members who don't come down on certain days - but the goal isn't necessarily about fiscal savings - it is about being productive.
Let the committees meet and crank out some legislation. Allow bills to be introduced and read across the desk, assigned to committee just as if the body were in Session. All the committees could work and would have a more flexible schedule for committee meetings. I believe that the bills would get a more thorough study by the committees, we could possibly get through the budget quicker since Ways and Means could have multiple sub-committee hearings on the same day, and once we got on the Legislative calendar we could have more productive floor time.
Maybe one day.................