Search Results for: roll call voting

H.3004 (Roll Call Voting) becomes law


Photo by Sam Holland www.samhollandphotography.com/

Never seen the lobby of the State House more crowded for a bill-signing in my seven years in office! Because the people of South Carolina spoke up and supported their right to know our votes, a three-year push finally became law! While then-Representative Haley, I and a handful of others worked inside the chambers, y’all worked outside and contacted your officials. Today was truly about People, Not Politics!

Below is video of today’s press conference:

Rep. Nathan Ballentine discusses roll call voting bill

(Ok, so maybe I got a little bit too much cut last week)

This week I enjoyed seeing Jonathan Williams again (senior, USC student) whom I’ve seen around the halls at the State House the past four years. He has two blogs ( Blatant Reality : Highlighting Emerging Energy Techonologies; and SC Statehouse which obviously focuses on state government).

For someone fairly uknown to most people in the media and state, he does manage to score some good interviews by just simply asking.

What I like (that some politicians might not) about Jonathan is he just pops in and asks if he can record. I think that makes for more natural conversation instead of planned remarks, etc.

With that said, here’s more about an issue that I hope will be resolved as a statewide law in a manner of weeks!

Roll Call Voting passes House – first week

January 13, 2011
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

COLUMBIA, S.C. – The S.C. House Republicans passed the first item on their 2011-2012 agenda Thursday when the House approved a statute requiring more roll call votes in the General Assembly.

The bill, originally authored by now-Governor Nikki Haley, was re-submitted by Rep. Nathan Ballentine, R-Irmo , during the pre-filing period back in December.

“I’m pleased to see my colleagues take swift action this session in an effort to hold the General Assembly more accountable to the people of our state,” said Rep. Ballentine. “If legislation is important enough to be debated in our chambers, it’s important for everyone to know how their elected official voted, or if he/she did not vote at all. It’s my hope the Senate and House can resolve any differences they may have and move this legislation forward to become law in the coming weeks.”

The legislation, H. 3004 and titled the “Spending Accountability Act of 2011” amends state law to require roll call votes in both the House and Senate for each section of the General Appropriations Bill, and any bill when:

• the question is adoption of a Conference or Free Conference Report;
• the question is passage of a bill or joint resolution on second reading;
• either the House or the Senate agrees to the other body’s amendment; or
• a bill or joint resolution is amended and the question is passage of a bill on third reading.

“This is a simple, yet critical reform that voters told us was extremely important to them last November,” said House Majority Leader Kenny Bingham, R-Cayce. “The House passed this last year, but it never became law. I look forward to both quick approval by the Senate and the signature of our new governor.”

House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston, added: “By Rule, this increased level of transparency in Roll Call Voting has been in effect in the House since its adoption in 2009. But because of the importance of this issue, House Members today took a major step in making this added accountability tool a state law that will result in more on-the-record votes in both legislative bodies.”

After a routine third reading on Friday, the roll call voting bill will go to the Senate next week.

Floor Remarks on Roll Call Voting

Another unanimous vote from the House after brief questions from Minority Leader, Harry Ott (D-Calhoun).

Once again, the bill now rests in the Senate where hopefully we’ll see quick action and see roll-call voting as SC permanent law.

Absentee Voting now available at Ballentine Park!

The Richland County Elections & Voter Registration office will open satellite absentee precincts, May 31st – June 10th (8:30 am – 5:00 pm) for absentee voting for the June 14, 2016 Statewide Primary.

Please refer to the attachment and the information below for additional details. Below the flyer is a list of Persons Qualifying to Vote Absentee.

absentee

Persons Qualifying to Vote Absentee:

•Any qualified elector in the following categories is eligible to receive absentee ballots:
•Students, their spouses and dependents residing with them. (The term “students” will mean all persons residing outside the counties of their respective residences, enrolled in an institution of learning.)
•Members of the Armed Forces and Merchant Marines, their spouses and dependents residing with them.
•Persons serving with the American Red Cross or with the United Service Organizations (USO) who are attached to and serving with the Armed Forces of the United States, their spouses and dependents residing with them.
•Employment. (The term “employment” means those persons who by virtue of their employment obligations will be absent from their county of residence on election day during the hours the polls are open and will be unable to vote in person, or those persons who are required by their employment obligations to be at their place of employment in their county of residence during the entire hours that the polls are open (7:00 a.m. – 7:00 p.m.) and will be unable to vote in person, and who present written certification of such obligations, signed by their employer, to the county board of registration.)
•Physically disabled persons. (The term “physically disabled persons” will mean a person who, because of injury or illness cannot be present in person at his polling place on election day, whether physically present inside or outside his county of residence.)
•Government employees, their spouses and dependents residing with them, who are out of their county of residence on election day.
•Electors with a death or funeral in the family within a three day period prior to the election.
•Persons on vacation (who because of vacation plans will be absent from a county of residence on election day).
•Poll managers, county voter registration board members and staff, and county election commission members and staff working on election day.
•Overseas citizens.
•Persons attending sick or physically disabled persons.
•Persons admitted to hospitals as emergency patients on the day of election or within a four-day period before the election.
•Persons who will be serving as jurors in a state or federal court on election day.
•Persons 65 years of age or older.
•Persons confined to a jail or pre-trial facility pending disposition of arrest or trial.

Common-Sense meets Status-Quo: On-The-Record Voting

Police-in-riot-gear-1024x566

I’m not sure why Speaker Harrell decided not to run for Governor, but after reading a release from his press shop today commenting about On-The-Record voting (or lack thereof), I’d tell him he probably saved himself alot of money.

That release (spin) stated: “Demanding that we should spend taxpayer money to take a roll call vote on a resolution congratulating a state championship high school team is not true transparency, it’s pandering…”

Well, sure. IF that’s what Representative Haley and I, Ashley Landess (Executive Director, SC Policy Council) and other common-sense legislators had been talking about last year, this summer, and all day today; I’d agree. However, that is NOT in this legislation and not what we’ve been talking about last year, this summer, and all day today during a four-city stop around the state with Governor Sanford lending his support.

Representative Haley sent a letter to EVERY House Member last week (124 members) and stated SPECIFICALLY that the bill does NOT include resolutions, recognitions, or congratulatory acts. What her bill WILL require are on-the-record votes for:

* all second readings
* any amended third readings
* all conference committee reports
* every section of the budget

Did that confuse anyone? Apparently some status-quo Columbia politicians (or their press shop) couldn’t keep up. [Read more…]

Budget week – Day One (that’s a lot of votes!)

176 votes!

That’s how many votes the House cast today during the first day of floor “debate” on the budget. Let me put that in context for you. While opponents love to see any “missed votes” by elected officials; frankly, not all votes are equal.

I remember in my primary last year, my opponents tried to create an issue that I had missed “100+ votes out of 200.” Something to the effect of trying to make it look like I missed half the votes we took for the year and that I was somehow not doing my job. (Sidenote: I had actually missed the first day of the budget back then due to an obligation with my paying job). There’s too much to unwind there, I don’t have the time or bandwith here to unravel again; but the voters saw through that smear (and others) and re-elected me with an overwhelming 70% vote compared to 25% and 5% for the other 2 opponents.

The votes today were never in doubt and were basically “non contested” in the sense that on the first day of the budget, the House goes through each section ( with a ROLL CALL VOTE – by the way, my bill with former Rep and Governor Nikki Haley ) that does not have any amendments on the desk OR has that does not have a request from a member to “carry over” until later in the week (where we would actually debate the sections). As you can see by the photo, most votes are unanimous or close to unanimous. If you want to click on the link above (176 votes) you will see the “closest” vote on a section today was 72-32 and 66-19. The OVERWHELMING number of votes were unanimous or had no more than 1-4 members voting against.

Every first day of the budget is like this. It’s the rest of the week where the votes “matter” and will actually be contested.

Simply put, before you fall for an opponent’s attack against an elected official (or a special interest group’s attack), just call your Representative or Senator and ask what happened. Today there were several members who were away from the chamber. Many of us have paying jobs and sometimes those jobs (or families) take priority over what are considered, basically, uncontested votes.

Just wanted to share this today for my colleagues who may have been absent or abstained from votes (many attorneys have conflicts of interest). I’d hate for them to be smeared like me and others have been in the past. I get it, that’s SC politics. It’s no fun; but the public deserves to know the story behind the votes. It’s exactly what my colleagues told me when they fought against roll-call voting. They knew that it would simply be “gotcha” for slick consultants and opponents to use against them in mail pieces or on the campaign trail.

Even though I was a part of “gotcha” politics by others manipulating the voting numbers, I would still lead the push again for roll call voting because there ARE many votes that matter and our constituents need to know where we stand on those issues.

As always, if you have an issue important to you, let your elected official know! Tomorrow we begin the “real debate” on the budget – we’ll be in chamber again all day; so make your voice heard.

How many new laws since January?

Five and half years ago, the “State House Website” had some major changes (improvements) that helped enable everyone who visited the site to stay and be more informed. (Coincidentally the change came months after Governor Haley signed into law the bill she and I had pushed for years: On the Record Voting/Roll Call Voting ) Yes, I remember hearing from colleagues “why record our votes? People will use that against us”. Of course, I thought that was not reason enough to stop the push for transparency. In fact, that’s even more reason we needed to push for transparency: to record our votes. We also were told “recording votes costs too much money” and to this day, I still hear “this is such a waste of time” (especially with the budget where almost every vote on the first day or two is unanimous or overhelmingly lopsided 100-10 or something like that).

I was amazed at how user-friendly the new site was and I continue to be impressed with ongoing changes made to provide more information (usually). In fact, in 2015 our Legislative Services Agency was recognized nationally with an achievement award for (among others things) the innovations on our website. (Page 16 in pdf)

Earlier this year, someone pointed out a change that didn’t show our attendance votes in one easy-to-read page like they used to. I thought that was weird but was told that in last year’s campaigns, opponents were using website info (incorrectly)saying members weren’t there, when the reality was (and is) many members make it to the chamber after the recorded roll-call is taken. So while the website was showing not-present, most the time that meant not-present “right after prayer and pledge” when the roll-call was closed. After hearing that, I see now why many members back in the day were fighting all this transparency. Made me think back to last summer, when my opponent tried to make an issue out of me not voting 100% of the time because he was retired and could make the monthly meetings he had for County Council and supposedly “never missed a vote”. I don’t know any member who has ever done that in the House or Senate. Many reasons why. First, we meet 3 days a week for 5 months and take 1,000+ votes a year. Sometimes we may take 100 or 200 in a day (budget). Many of us (like me) don’t vote on “local issues” (like another county or district’s voting lines or school board make-up or…things like SC Native Plants Week). Many times we are in meetings in our offices, in lobby with constituents or others and miss votes. Sometimes we actually have a life and are called away (because of work or family) and aren’t present to vote. Heck, I missed one day of the budget and missed 170 votes. All those votes were like 100-2 (closest ones that day were 70-3 or 66-14 with all the others 90ish to 3).

Just recently, I came across the page you see above. People rarely know how many bills are filed, how many become law, and frankly – how bills BECOME laws . So this one page (“Legislation”) is really an eye-opener. If you haven’t been to the site, you should check it out. The video coverage is live streamed (a few seconds delay) and the “Chamber Dashboard” has bills and amendments LIVE as we debate. You get to see what House and Senate members see!

This site is also where you can contact your elected officials. Heads up though, most of us have “automatic replies”. While many replies say “thanks, I read them all but don’t reply”, I direct members of our community to be sure to put CONSTITUENT in the subject line or contact me here because it helps me respond much quicker.

Back to the title – how many new laws since January?

Depending on your preference, it could be viewed as “good” or “bad” that we’ve passed seventeen this session (and are 9 legislative days away from Sine Die). But that’s the reality. Each session may hold 2,000 bills and if 100 pass, that’s a big number! This session we’ve been bogged down with the ONE issue that I’ve heard about the most – ROADS. Three times the House has passed a roads bill. Hopefully the Senate will do the same THIS YEAR and we’ll have to see how it ends up in conference committee and what happens when Governor McMaster gets it on his desk. The threat of veto is there. Will it be delivered and can it be overridden is the question.

Veto! What’s your thoughts on these?

rong> , I’d like to ask your thoughts on the Governor’s Budget Vetos which she shared earlier today.

Fiscal Year 2016-2017 General Appropriations Act

Fiscal Year 2016-2017 Capital Reserve Fund

If you’ve never seen a veto message before, those links show you exactly what each House and Senate member receives.

I usually sustain several vetoes; but not before hearing from you and your rationale for why that particular veto should be overridden or sustained.

The General Assembly will return next Wednesday, June 16th, to vote on these. We actually take a little longer than we used to before I was elected. Partly due to roll call voting; also due to more deliberation from the floor instead of the usual “override them all” mentality that was around for many years.

If you see something you feel strongly about (for or against), please let me know! You can always comment here in the comment section or click “Contact” up top on the website to send me an email.

For those outside the Richland, Lexington area, be sure you let your Representative or Senator know your thoughts!

Veto! Any thoughts on these?

As I’ve done for several years , I’d like to ask your thoughts on Budget Vetoes 2014.

If you’ve never seen a veto message before, that link shows you the message for the 2014-2015 General Appropriations Act.

I ususally sustain several; but not before hearing from you and your rationale for why that particular veto should be overridden or sustained.

The General Assembly will return next Tuesday, June 17th, to vote on these. We actually take a little longer than we used to before I was elected. Partly due to roll call voting; also due to more deliberation from the floor instead of the usual “override them all” mentality that was around for many years.

If you see something you feel strongly about (for or against), please let me know! You can always comment here in the comment section or click “Contact” up top on the website to send me an email.

For those outside the Richland, Lexington area, be sure you let your Representative or Senator know your thoughts!