South Carolina Legislature Organizational Session Update

December 14, 2016

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The South Carolina Legislature met Dec. 6 and 7 to formally organize for the upcoming 2017 legislative session.

Lt. Gov. McMaster Prepares to Be Governor, Questions Remain for Second-in-Command

South Carolina’s leadership succession remains unclear after President-elect Trump’s appointment of Gov. Nikki Haley to the United Nations as ambassador and the Senate’s re-election of President Pro Tempore Hugh Leatherman (R-Florence). With Sen. Leatherman publicly stating that he will not become lieutenant governor if Gov. Haley is confirmed, the question remains who or what governs the selection of a new lieutenant governor after current Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster rises to the position of governor.

Current state law requires the Senate president pro tempore to fill a vacant lieutenant governor position; however, a 2014 constitutional amendment may allow the new governor to pick a successor. With Gov. Haley’s appointment pending Senate confirmation in early 2017, Senate leaders have repeatedly stated that they’ll cross the succession bridge when they get there. 

Senate Organizational Changes


Sen. Shane Massey (majority leader, R-Edgefield) introduced a new set of rules aimed at the traditional Senate rules that allow a single senator to block legislation. The new rules eliminate minority reports and make it easier for the body to end filibusters.

Committee Leadership  

After losing leadership in primary contests, the Judiciary Committee elected Sen. Luke Rankin (R-Horry), the Banking and Insurance Committee elected Sen. Ronnie Cromer (R-Newberry), and the Corrections and Penology Committee elected Sen. Shane Martin (R-Spartanburg) as chairmen of their respective committees.

The following committees also elected new chairmen:

  • Ethics – Sen. Paul Campbell (R-Berkeley)
  • Invitations – Sen. Tom Davis (R-Beaufort)
  • Rules – Sen. Shane Massey (majority leader, R-Edgefield)

View the complete list of 2017 Senate standing committees and their membership here.

House Organizational Changes

The House re-elected Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington) and all but one committee remained under the same leadership. The Ethics Committee elected Rep. Michael Pitts (R-Laurens) as chairman.

View the complete list of 2017 House standing committees and their membership here.

Please contact any member of the McGuireWoods Consulting South Carolina Team if you would like more detailed information about election results or any other policy issues in South Carolina.

Governor Jim Hodges, Senior Advisor

Robert Adams, Senior Vice President

William D. Boan, Senior Vice President

Amber S. Barnes, Vice President

Brian P. Flynn, Vice President

Kayleigh E. Hall, Assistant Vice President

Robin T. Crawford, Research Assistant