Governor Donald Russell addressing the Assembly in 1964

The South Carolina General Assembly, also called the South Carolina Legislature, is the state legislature of the U.S. state of South Carolina. The legislature is bicameral and consists of the lower South Carolina House of Representatives and the upper South Carolina Senate. All together, the General Assembly consists of 170 members. The legislature convenes at the State House in Columbia.

Prior to the 1964 federal Reynolds v. Sims decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, each county doubled as a legislative district, with each county electing one senator and at least one representative. Moreover, each county’s General Assembly delegation also doubled as its county council, as the state constitution made no provision for local government.

The “one man, one vote” provision of Reynolds v. Sims[2] caused district lines to cross county lines, causing legislators to be on multiple county councils. This led to the passage of the Home Rule Act of 1975, which created county councils that were independent of the General Assembly. However, the General Assembly still retains considerable authority over local government. As a result, the legislature still devotes considerable time to local matters, and county legislative delegations still handle many matters that are handled by county governments in the rest of the country.[3]

There are 124 members of the South Carolina House of Representatives, who are elected every two years, and the South Carolina Senate has 46 members, elected every four years concurrent to the presidential election. For both houses, there are no term limits. The General Assembly meets in joint session to elect judges, with all 170 members having an equal vote in such elections.

Role

The main role of the South Carolina General Assembly is to pass laws “as the common good may require.”[4] In order for a bill to become law, both the Senate and House of Representatives must vote to pass the bill by a simple majority. Then the bill must be sent to the governor. If the governor vetoes the bill, both houses can either sustain the veto or override the veto. Veto overrides require a two-thirds majority. Once he receives the bill, if the governor neither signs nor vetoes the bill, it becomes law after five days, Sundays excluded.[5]

Qualifications

Senators

According to the South Carolina Constitution, no person may serve as a senator who:[6]

  • Is not qualified to vote in state elections
  • Is not a resident of the district in which he or she seeks to represent
  • Is not at least 25 years of age
  • Has been convicted of or plead guilty to a felony or voter fraud or bribery unless 15 years has elapsed since the time was served.

Representatives

According to the South Carolina Constitution, no person may serve as a representative who:[7]

  • Is not qualified to vote in state elections
  • Is not a resident of the district in which he or she seeks to represent
  • Is not at least 21 years of age
  • Has been convicted of or plead guilty to a felony or voter fraud or bribery unless 15 years has elapsed since the time was served.

Officers

Senate

South Carolina Senate Officers
PositionNameParty
President of the SenateThomas C. AlexanderRepublican
Majority LeaderA. Shane MasseyRepublican
Minority LeaderBrad HuttoDemocratic

House of Representatives

South Carolina House of Representatives Officers
PositionNameParty
SpeakerMurrell SmithRepublican
Speaker pro temporeTommy PopeRepublican
Majority LeaderDavey HiottRepublican
Minority LeaderJ. Todd RutherfordDemocratic

Historic Party Control

Statehouse Party Control since 1868
Year[a]Senate

Majority

House

Majority

Governor

Control

1868RepublicanRepublicanRepublican
1870
1872
1874
1876DemocraticDemocratic
1878Democratic
1880
1882
1884
1886
1888
1890
1892
1894
1896
1898
1900
1902
1904
1906
1908
1910
1912
1914
1916
1918
1920
1922
1924
1926
1930
1934
1938
1942
1946
1950
1954
1958
1962
1966
1970
1974Republican
1978Democratic
1982
1986Republican
1990
1994Republican
1998RepublicanDemocratic
2002Republican
2006
2010
2014
2018
2022TBD

See also

Notes

  1. ^ Years reflected in chart match gubernatorial elections

References

  1. ^ “South Carolina Legislature Online – House of Representatives”.
  2. ^ “Reynolds v. Sims 377 U.S. 533 (1964)”. Justia Law. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  3. ^ “Scoppe: The Home Rule Act that didn’t really allow home rule”. thestate. Retrieved May 12, 2016.
  4. ^ “ARTICLE III LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT” (PDF). scstathouse.gov. South Carolina Legislature. Retrieved August 4, 2022.
  5. ^ “ARTICLE IV EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENT” (PDF). scstatehouse.gov. South Carolina Legislature. Retrieved August 4, 2022.
  6. ^ “ARTICLE III LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT” (PDF). scstathouse.gov. South Carolina Legislature. Retrieved August 4, 2022.
  7. ^ “ARTICLE III LEGISLATIVE DEPARTMENT” (PDF). scstathouse.gov. South Carolina Legislature. Retrieved August 4, 2022.

External links