Stop the spending! Roll-call vote saves $400,000

It was a long day of debate in the chamber today on Payday Lending and, thanks to Representative Gary Simrill (R-York), government spending won’t have a chance to grow $400,000.

Oh…and thanks to a recorded vote (at his request), the House fixed what could have potentially been just another example of unaccountable spending that isn’t currently required to have a roll-call vote because of holes in the House Rule passed earlier this year.

With over 40 amendments on the desk, there were several recorded votes taken today that can all be tracked in the House Journal; however, on amendment #37, a voice vote was taken. Representative Nikki Haley (R-Lexington) asked for a roll-call but apparently not quickly enough.

Remember, the House Rule we passed earlier this year is just a start towards full transparency; but it doesn’t get us where our state needs to be. You see, the rule didn’t cover amendments like this one. Sure, the rule covers “tax increases” and important sounding things like that BUT it’s amendments like these or bills like these that end up taking our budget from $5 billion to $7 billion and often times no one’s on record for that spending approval.

From the House Journal today…

Rep. Sellers proposed the following Amendment No. 37 (COUNCILMS7205ZW09), which was adopted:
Amend the bill, as and if amended, by adding an appropriately numbered SECTION to read:
/ SECTION __. Chapter 39, Title 34 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

“Section 34-39-295. No later than January fifteenth of each year, the State Board of Financial Institutions must remit to the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs an amount equal to a total of ten cents per deferred presentment services licensure application fee collected during the preceding calendar year. The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs must use these proceeds to support financial literacy programs in this State. These financial literacy programs must be offered to the public free of charge.” /
Renumber sections to conform.
Amend title to conform.

Rep. SELLERS explained the amendment.
The amendment was then adopted.

Seems pretty innocuous, right? Payday lenders will give a dime on every loan they do to the Department of Consumer Affairs for Financial Literacy (10 cents on roughly 4,000,000 payday loans). Sounds harmless enough. But, a short time later when some cleanup of that amendment was going on, Rep. Simrill (who years ago had been labeled “Roll Call Simrill” by many in the House for his repetitive requests to record votes) pointed out to the chamber that this small amendment would actually lead to our state government spending $400,000.

In times we’re in, do we really need to see government spending grow? Obviously, we don’t even have enough revenues to cover what current programs we have now. Sure, the revenue for this spending wouldn’t come from tax dollars BUT….here’s where we as elected officials have to look down the road instead of just at the next election cycle.

What do you think would happen once our state got these programs up and running based off the revenue coming in and THEN the revenue started declining? That’s right….we’d see cuts to the program/employees and/or your tax dollars later being needed to fund a program put in place because of a simple voice vote on the 37th amendment on a bill late one February afternoon.

Don’t get me wrong. This wasn’t a case of officials intentionally trying to hide our votes. Not at all. But what this does is show how no one (outside of Representative Haley) thought enough to ask for the roll-call. You see, until the BILL (prefiled by Rep. Haley along with 20+ cosponsors) is debated and becomes a LAW, there are several items we will vote on everyday that will be done by voice vote. Those items will still require a member to have to ask for our votes to be recorded, then have to have the Speaker recongize that request, and then need nine colleagues to support that request to record our votes.

Luckily for us – and our state spending – we had a chance to put our votes on record.

When Simrilll brought this information to light and then was able to get a roll-call vote, here’s how the “voice vote” (taken just moments earlier that led to passage of the amendment) quickly turned into a recorded vote that caused the amendment to fail.

From the House Journal…

Rep. SELLERS proposed the following Amendment No. 41 (COUNCILNBD11268ZW09), which was rejected:
Amend the bill, as and if amended, by adding an appropriately numbered SECTION to read:
/ SECTION __. Chapter 39, Title 34 of the 1976 Code is amended by adding:

“Section 34-39-295. No later than January fifteenth of each year, the State Board of Financial Institutions must remit to the South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs an amount equal to a total of ten cents per deferred presentment services transaction collected during the preceding calendar year. The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs must use these proceeds to support financial literacy programs in this State. These financial literacy programs must be offered to the public free of charge.” /
Renumber sections to conform.
Amend title to conform.

Rep. SELLERS explained the amendment.
Rep. SIMRILL spoke against the amendment.

Rep. SIMRILL demanded the yeas and nays which were taken, resulting as follows:

Yeas 44; Nays 60
Those who voted in the affirmative are
:

Agnew Anderson Anthony
Bales Bannister Bowers
Branham G. A. Brown H. B. Brown
R. L. Brown Cato Clemmons
Clyburn Cobb-Hunter Dillard
Funderburk Gilliard Govan
Gunn Hardwick Harrell
Harvin Hayes Hodges
Hosey Hutto Jefferson
King Knight Lucas
Mack McEachern Miller
Mitchell J. H. Neal Neilson
Ott Parks Sandifer
Scott Sellers Vick
Whipper Williams

Total–44
Those who voted in the negative are:

Allison Ballentine Barfield
Bedingfield Bingham Bowen
Brady Cole Cooper
Crawford Daning Delleney
Duncan Edge Erickson
Forrester Frye Gambrell
Gullick Haley Hamilton
Herbkersman Hiott Horne
Kelly Kennedy Limehouse
Littlejohn Loftis Long
Lowe Merrill Millwood
Moss Nanney J. M. Neal
Owens Parker E. H. Pitts
M. A. Pitts Rice Simrill
Skelton D. C. Smith G. R. Smith
J. R. Smith Sottile Spires
Stewart Stringer Thompson
Toole Umphlett Viers
White Whitmire Willis
Wylie A. D. Young T. R. Young

Total–60
So, the amendment was rejected.

So…you be the judge. Has the On-the-record (Transparency) HOUSE RULE we passed earlier this year done enough? Or, do you see that the House and Senate need the bill, H.3047, to become state law (which would provide more transparency and keep us from running into this situation again)?