As part of an effort to assess legislators’ views on the length of session, balance of power and roll call voting, citizen reporters from The Nerve are posing questions to lawmakers from around South Carolina. In the following interview, Citizen Reporter Jan Williams interviews Rep. Garry Smith, R-Greenville:
Q: South Carolina’s legislative session is the longest in the Southeast and the longest in the United States, among part-time legislatures. Would you support shortening the legislative session to no more than 45 legislative days?
A: Yes. I have been a co-sponsor of this bill in the past.
Q: Because so much power is concentrated in the legislative branch, the leadership is therefore powerful through appointments to 250-plus executive branch boards and commissions. The Speaker of the House and the Senate President Pro Tempore alone make more than 120 appointments to executive branch functions. Do you believe there is an equal balance of power between the legislative, executive and judicial branches of S.C. state government?
Q: How would you propose changing the current system?
A: I have sponsored, and the House has passed many times restructuring measures to correct this (such as a) Department of Administration bill. I am sponsoring this bill again this year.
Q: For the past two years the General Assembly has only recorded 25 percent of votes it took. How would you propose improving the voting record in the House?
A: Requesting more roll call votes would be the quickest way.
Q: Would you support a constitutional amendment requiring recorded votes?
Q: Given that many of the legislative reforms citizens have asked for have not been implemented yet, would you support a change in leadership?
A: It depends on who.
Q: Would you let your constituents know who you will support before the actual vote for Speaker?