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General Assembly Update on Bills of Interest

 General Assembly Update on Bills of Interest

By Dennis Mitchell

Every two years voters go to the polls in South Carolina to elect politicians to represent them in the General Assembly in Columbia. Much of the time, once they get to Columbia, many of those elected forget exactly who they are supposed to be representing.

That would seem to be a difficult state of affairs for the elected politician. However, once they get in office, incumbent politicians who seek reelection in South Carolina are rarely defeated. So, it becomes – tell the voters what they want to hear then do what I want to do once elected.

Two issues which were considered significant enough for citizens across the state were polled in advisory questions on the ballot of February’s 2024 Republican Presidential Primary. One question asked whether the manner in which judges are appointed to office should be changed to take more of the process out of the hands of lawyer/legislators who appear in court before the same judges they elect. That advisory question had over 91 percent of voters in the primary say Yes – change the process.

The second advisory question of note here asked whether the current tort laws in South Carolina should be changed to set responsibility for paying jury awards for damages on a percentage basis equal to each defendant’s contribution to injury or damage. The Yes answer on that question exceeded 87 percent from voters.

With just a few weeks to go in the current legislative session, neither the Judicial Reform bill nor the Tort Reform bill appears to have support among legislators needed to become law. A major opponent of change on either issue is Horry County’s own Sen. Luke Rankin, the Senate Judiciary chairman. Rankin spoke against both bills during Senate debate.

Rankin is finishing his 32nd year in Columbia representing the citizens in SC Senate District 33. This election cycle, he is facing stiff opposition from former Conway City Councilman Autry Benton. Benton launched his campaign supporting both Judicial Reform and Tort Reform, as well as increased road funding for Horry County.

The voters have a clear choice in this primary election.


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