By Paul Gable
Looking over pre-filed bills for the upcoming legislative year is always a fun exercise and this year is no different.
Most pre-filed bills never make it out of committee because they reflect a member’s personal agenda or message they want to send to the voters in their district.
Some, however, won’t make it out of committee because they would alter the power structure in Columbia.
Several bills filed by Rep. Chris Corley (R-84) fall into this second category. Corley pre-filed several bills to change the way judges are elected in the state. Corley wants the judges on the Supreme Court, Appeals Court, Circuit Courts and Family Courts to be popularly elected by the voters of South Carolina replacing the current system of election by the General Assembly.
In addition, Corley wants to prohibit any member of the General Assembly, their family and those of certain other relationships with members to be prohibited from eligibility for a judgeship for five years after the member leaves office.
I believe the question of popular election of judges should be debated on the floor. The current system of electing judges by a number of members who will be practicing before them has led to a legal system that brings anything but fairness for the general public.
Corley also pre-filed a bill to submit the question of whether the Confederate battle flag should be returned to its place by the soldier’s monument on statehouse grounds to the people in the form of a popular referendum in the 2016 general election.
Other pre-filed bills that caught my eye during a scan of pre-filed bills in the SC House:
One pre-filed bill would require the state Department of Education to establish a statewide dress code for public school students beginning next year. Several others deal with limiting the transfer of firearms to a purchaser or transferee until all background checks are received.
Several bills have been pre-filed to provide that no detainees released from Guantanamo Bay be allowed settle in the state and that no state resources be used for the resettlement of Middle Eastern refugees.
Several others deal with helping property owners affected by the October flooding in the state.
One bill seeks to establish term limits of six consecutive terms for a member of the House and three consecutive terms for a member of the Senate.
Looking for transparency on campaign expenditures, one bill was pre-filed to require individual receipts be attached for each expenditure shown on campaign reports filed with the ethics commission or ethics committee.
Pre-filings for the SC House and SC Senate began last week and continue this week. I would encourage every citizen to scan the list of pre-filed bills so you have a basic understanding of what legislation may be considered in the upcoming General Assembly legislative year.