PRESS RELEASE: Speaker Lucas: House Passes Final Amendment to Roads Bill

House Passes Final Amendment to Roads Bill

Moves to the Senate for an up or down vote

(Columbia, SC) – House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement after the House amended the Senate version of the roads bill (H.3579) by an overwhelming vote of 113-6.

“Today, the South Carolina House amended a partial bill and filled in the gaps so that it better provides for the needs of our citizens,” House Speaker Jay Lucas stated.  “The legislative process exists so that the General Assembly can work together to move South Carolina forward, not provide opportunities for political grandstanding. The House’s amendment preserves qualifications and requirements for Highway Commissioners, solidifies the transparency of the State Infrastructure Bank, and removes irresponsible budgeting practices that threaten the stability of our economy.

“The Legislative Audit Council’s report serves as a critical tool for the General Assembly and exposes insufficiencies within SCDOT. Although a majority of the Senate requested this study, they passed their amendment days before it was available and could not rely on its findings as a basis for their reform measures. The House could not in good faith pass the Senate amendment because it falls short of true reform,” Speaker Lucas continued.

Legislative procedure dictates that H. 3579 cannot be amended again.  Upon arrival, the Senate has the option of taking a vote or not taking a vote. The vote decides whether or not to concur or nonconcur.  A vote for concurrence would result in the bill’s passage and then on to the Governor’s desk for signature. Nonoccurrence would result in the formation of a conference committee.

“The Senate now has the responsibility of taking a single up or down vote on this bill. We obviously prefer a vote for concurrence, but welcome the idea of blending our two versions together. Regardless, the most important action here is for the Senate to take a vote and bring us one step closer to fixing our roads. At the end of the day, South Carolinians want progress on this issue and repairing our crumbling infrastructure starts with SCDOT reform.”

 

Provisions in the House Amendment to H. 3579:

  • Highway Commissioners are appointed by the Governor with the advice and consent of the General Assembly
  • Commission appoints a Secretary of Transportation with advice and consent of the General Assembly, who then serves at the pleasure of the Commission to create a single line of authority from the Governor, to the Commission, to the Secretary.
  • Eliminates the Joint Transportation Review Committee, but retains the required qualifications for Commissioners to ensure appointees have appropriate education and experience. These qualifications and requirements were removed in the Senate amendment.
  • Adopts the State Infrastructure Bank language in the Senate version and requires the entity to follow SCDOT prioritization criteria for projects
  • Removes the irresponsible $400M general fund mandate because it is unreliable. This year’s House passed budget appropriated $415M additional funds to SCDOT, an amount larger than specified in the Senate amendment, and we will continue to give available funds to SCDOT in the future.
  • Addresses the Legislative Audit Council’s concerns expressed in report by placing the SCDOT Chief Internal Auditor under the independent State Auditor