Roads, ethics top Lucas’ priority list for House
Source: GSA Business
December 4, 2014
Speaker Jay Lucas labeled roads and ethics reforms as top priorities for the upcoming session of the House of Representatives during Tuesday’s acceptance speech following his election to the top leadership job.
The Hartsville Republican, who had held the House’s No. 2 leadership position as speaker pro tem, was elected without opposition during the first day of a special two-day organizational session. The first regular session of the 121st General Assembly is set for Jan. 13.
“We are the only government entity in the state ambitious enough to face head-on the issues dealing with our crumbling roads and infrastructure,” said Lucas, who named a bipartisan committee in September to find ways to fix and fund the state’s 41,000 miles of state roads and 8,000 bridges.
A number of business groups including the S.C. Chamber of Commerce have targeted transportation infrastructure as a crucial issue for the legislature to tackle to spur economic development and create jobs.
The state Department of Transportation estimates that South Carolina is facing a $1.5 billion-a-year funding shortfall for highways and bridges.
Lucas also promised that a committee formed to study ethics and FOIA reform will prefile up to 15 “easy to understand bills — instead of a massive bill — dealing with ethics, income disclosure, campaign finance” and the state’s Freedom of Information Act.
Ethics reform has become a hot issue following the suspension of former speaker Bobby Harrell, who was indicted on state charges of misconduct of office. Harrell resigned in October and pleaded guilty to using campaign funds for personal use and providing false candidate campaign disclosures.
Another task for the House to tackle this year will be improving the quality of the state’s workforce and improving children’s education, Lucas said.
In November, the S.C. Supreme Court ruled in favor of poor, rural school districts that charged the General Assembly has not lived up to its constitutional obligation to ensure all children in the state get a good education.