Citizen Activist: Committee Roll-Call Victory a Great Start

December 16, 2014

Inside Insight

Print Friendly, PDF & Email

committee roll call victory

TRANSPARENCY IS WINNING . . .

Two weeks ago, the South Carolina House has passed a rule that requires important votes in standing committees to be recorded and made known to the public.

We started that fight. Over two years ago, the Greenville Tea Party began the initiative to require a public record of how laws are passed in committees. This new House rule will allow unprecedented levels of citizen participation at the committee level.

Let’s consider how this new power may help create good legislation on behalf of the people instead of rewarding the usual power brokers.

Now the policy analysts at the South Carolina Policy Council and other groups can determine exactly who voted for and against what bill. Now it will be easier for concerned citizens to know if a lawmaker is voting in Columbia in accordance with his campaign rhetoric. Now journalists can judge which candidate’s telling the truth when he or she claims to have voted for or against a particular bill.

Since political power grows in the dark and freedom thrives in the light, there is an urgent need for a spotlight directly on the place where power is created – legislative committees. As anyone who’s watched the State House for long can tell you, a few important things happen on the chamber floor, but the really important things – the bulk of the things that directly affect your life – happen in committee.

Now, thanks to the Advocacy Center of the Greenville Tea Party, you can see how your lawmaker votes in committees. The Record the Votes (RTV) project team includes: Ron Tamaccio (team leader), Bill McShea, Herb Sprouse, Gwen Johnson, and Jonathan Marquis. Representative Eric Bedingfield led the initiative in the House Rules Ad Hoc Committee on behalf of the citizens of South Carolina.

But now we have only lit a candle where we need a spotlight. Now we want all votes available on the internet (instead of having to contact the committee for voting information), including all votes in Senate committees. The workings of every committee, board, commission, agency and department should be made available to the public.

Let’s get started today.