Proposed House rules: committees must livestream, consider more bills

Proposed House rules: committees must livestream, consider more bills

Recently, several resolutions were filed proposing noteworthy changes to the S.C. House rules. Two of them (H.5219 and H.5221) seek to improve transparency and accountability at key moments when it comes to lawmaking and judicial elections. H.5219 would require all House committees and subcommittees to livestream their meetings on the Statehouse website. The proposal mirrors an excellent transparency bill filed in early 2023, supported by SCPC research. In addition to a livestreaming requirement for legislative meetings (as well as for local school boards), that bill would mandate the timely disclosure of certain budget requests and provide easy access to numerous public records.

Meanwhile, H.5221 would require a recorded roll-call vote for the election of all judicial candidates, regardless of whether the seat is contested. In South Carolina, judges on five of nine courts are elected by the General Assembly, including those on the state Supreme Court. However, if just one candidate remains for an open seat, it is common for that person to be elected through unanimous consent, which does not individually record legislators’ votes. The change demands an appropriate level of accountability for such important decisions.

Another proposal (H.5218) seeks to ensure that bills receive a committee hearing if they gather enough legislative support. Under the rule, a House committee chairman would need to set a bill with 15 or more sponsors for consideration within seven days of a sponsor’s written request.

The change targets a longstanding issue in our legislative process: countless reform bills are filed every year that never see the light of day. Take, for instance, the transparency bill mentioned earlier. Despite having support from more than a dozen legislators, the bill hasn’t moved since it was filed last February. And while a hearing cannot guarantee that a bill makes it to the floor, it does at least offer a fighting chance.

By the same rule, however, bad bills could be forced onto committee agendas if they meet the sponsor threshold. Proposals to raise taxes, grow government, spend recklessly, and reduce freedom might therefore have an easier path to becoming law. But considering that these bills often wind up in hearings regardless, some might be willing to accept the risk.


William Morton is a research intern for the South Carolina Policy Council