Lawmakers from Darlington back making superintendent appointive
HARTSVILLE, S.C. - Three Darlington County state lawmakers voiced their support Friday for a constitutional amendment to make the state superintendent of education an appointed rather than an elected position.
Sen. Gerald Malloy, House Speaker Jay Lucas, and Rep. Robert Williams each offered words of support for the proposed amendment, which South Carolina residents will vote on in a referendum in the Nov. 6 general election.
Their comments came during the Greater Hartsville Chamber of Commerce’s Annual Issues Breakfast featuring state legislators at the Butler Heritage Center in Hartsville. The three lawmakers were the featured speakers for the event.
The lawmakers said making the superintendent of education appointive would improve accountability in the position.
“We’ve got way, way too many people trying to tell us what we need to do about education in South Carolina,” Lucas said.
Williams said the issue is one of the most important voters will decide in November.
Lucas said getting the issue through the legislature to the ballot was difficult. He praised Malloy for his efforts to get the measure through the Senate successfully.
If approved, the amendment will become effective in January 2023 or upon a vacancy in the office of the superintendent after the date of ratification of the amendment. Under the amendment, the superintendent would be appointed by the governor with the advice and consent of the Senate.
“At the end of the day, having the superintendent accountable to one individual who is accountable is an improvement over how we’ve done it in the past,” Lucas said.
The lawmakers also discussed other issues, including efforts to bring the state tax system into conformity with the federal tax system.
Malloy said reforming the tax system will help take care of smaller rural counties and bring tax equity to those areas in South Carolina.
The lawmakers also reviewed the most recent legislative session.
Malloy said the Senate is poised to begin work on developing new rules of procedure for the Senate after a change in state election law that now has candidates for governor and lieutenant governor running as running mates in elections.
Lucas said South Carolina is seeing the benefits of raising the state’s gas tax to improve roads in the state. “I hope y’all are pleased with what’s being done with roads around Darlington County,” he said.
Malloy pointed to plans by the state to repave West Home Avenue in Hartsville from Fifth Street to the area where a roundabout or traffic circle is under construction by the state at the intersection of West Home and West Carolina avenues, Fourteenth Street and Trailwood Drive.
Malloy also spoke about Darlington County’s plans for a courthouse project. He said he supports building a new courthouse as opposed to trying to renovate the existing courthouse in Darlington. The courthouse issue will be on the general election ballot in a referendum in November.
Malloy said legislators will have plenty to do when they return to session in January with issues relating to business, agriculture and education.
He said a key issue important to him is continuing efforts to lower the state’s prison population by reducing the number of nonviolent inmates in the state’s prisons with alternative sentencing while keeping violent offenders off the streets.
Williams said the House will take up legislation dealing with protection of the elderly and vulnerable adults from would-be scammers and efforts to prevent prison inmates from obtaining contraband through the use of drone aircraft.
He also spoke about addressing the needs of smaller communities. “We are no stronger than our weakest municipalities,” Williams said.