South Carolina State House Update

December 4, 2020

Pardon Our Dust

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Members of the House of Representatives gathered in Columbia this week to elect leadership, receive committee assignments, and organize for the 2021-22 legislative session.

House Speaker Jay Lucas (R-Darlington) was re-elected to a fourth term as Speaker of the House on Tuesday, a role he has held since 2014.  Lucas told the House in his remarks that the upcoming session would be “unlike any before” but that members would either “find a way or make a way” as he pledged to continue moving the state forward amidst the Covid-19 pandemic.

The House Republican Caucus suspended their rules in order to elect Gary Simrill (R-York) to a third term as House Majority Leader.  Caucus rules currently restrict majority leaders to two two-year terms and Simrill has held this position since 2016.  Representative Jay West (R-Anderson) will serve as Assistant Majority Leader, replacing retired member Eddie Tallon in this role.

Todd Rutherford (D-Richland) won reelection to the post of Minority Leader on Tuesday as well, a role he has served in since 2013.  Rutherford faced opposition from Wendy Brawley (R-Richland), who he defeated in a 22-18 vote. 

On December 2, all 124 members received their committee assignments for the next two years and committees met later that day to elect their chairmen. Chris Murphy (R-Dorchester) was elected Chairman of the powerful House Judiciary Committee, filling a chair position that has been open since Peter McCoy resigned earlier in the year to become U.S. Attorney for South Carolina. Murphy, an attorney by trade, has served in the House since 2011 and stated that redistricting will be one of the most important pieces of legislation that the committee deals with over the next two years. Murrell Smith (R-Sumter), Rita Allison (R-Spartanburg), David Hiott (R-Pickens), Bill Sandifer (R-Oconee), and Leon Howard (D-Richland) retained their posts as Chairman of the House Ways and Means, Education, Agriculture, LCI and Medical Affairs Committees, respectively.  

Both the Senate and the House will reconvene on Tuesday, January 12, 2021 for the first year of a two-year session.