Hilton Head Citizen Reporter Helps Launch Legislative Watchdog Project

afa412e1376eae246fdf167e078822e8A new Nerve initiative in which Citizen Reporters monitor and report on their legislative delegations is already yielding results.

While lawmakers’ time from January to July is largely taken up with the annual legislative session in Columbia, legislators have more opportunity during the second six months of the year to join together and meet with constituents back home.

Through an initiative called the Delegation Watchdog Project, The Nerve’s Citizen Reporters are identifying which legislative delegations hold meetings and when those meetings take place.

Among the delegations that do gather, Citizen Reporters are seeking to learn whether such meetings are open to the public and to cover the sessions.

With delegations that do not meet regularly, Citizen Reporters will encourage them to do so.

Delegation meetings don’t receive nearly the attention that the General Assembly garners, but they’re important because they enable South Carolina residents to hear firsthand from their elected lawmakers about what is going on in Columbia.

Delegation meetings also give South Carolinians the opportunity to ask questions of their legislators.

The Beaufort County delegation, apparently prompted by an inquiry from Nerve Citizen Reporter Tom Hatfield, plans to meet this summer, according to Rep. Bill Herbkersman, R-Beaufort and chairman of the county delegation.

Its other members are: Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort; Sen. Clementa Pinckney, D-Jasper; Rep. Curtis Brantley, D-Jasper; Rep. Shannon Erickson, R-Beaufort; Rep. Ken Hodges, D-Colleton; and Rep. Andy Patrick, R-Beaufort.

In an email response to Hatfield, Herbkersman said he intends to poll members of his delegation and find a time when all or most would be in town and then set up a meeting.

In the past, there were four delegation meetings scheduled annually, but they suffered from “a lack of material and truly a lack of citizen participation,” Herbkersman said in his reply to Hatfield.

As a result, Herbkersman, who first started serving in the S.C. House in 2003, began scheduling the meetings in the summer after session and at the start of session.

The Beaufort delegation’s last meeting was held in February, he told Hatfield.

Reach Dietrich at (803) 779-5022 ext. 110, or kevin@thenerve.org.