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The Latest: Speaker says chairman change isn’t personal

December 5, 2018

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on a shake-up in South Carolina House leadership (all times local):

3:45 p.m.

Speaker Jay Lucas says there was nothing personal behind his decision to change the leader of one of the most powerful committees in the South Carolina House.

Lucas said Wednesday he felt changes needed to be made in dealing with the state budget so he removed Republican Rep. Brian White of Anderson as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee.

Lucas says he thinks Republican Rep. Murrell Smith of Sumter can renew the direction of the committee responsible for the state budget.

Lucas’ statement did not give specifics on what changes Lucas thought needed to be made in the committee, and his chief of staff says the speaker isn’t giving interviews.

Lucas did say he still considers White a friend and a good man.

The decision is the biggest change the Hartsville Republican has made in his four years as speaker.

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12:10 p.m.

A lawyer and an 18-year veteran of the South Carolina House has been picked to lead the chamber’s budget-writing committee.

Republican Rep. Murrell Smith of Sumter was selected as chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee on Wednesday. He had no opposition.

Smith takes over the committee from Republican Rep. Brian White of Anderson. White says House Speaker Jay Lucas removed him because fellow Republicans said they wanted someone who would better carry out the party’s agenda.

Smith thanked White for his service and said he would continue to lead the committee the same direction.

The Ways and Means committee gets the first draft of the state budget. Its chairman also sits on the State Fiscal Accountability Authority and the Joint Bond Review Committee which review and approve expensive state projects.

White was reassigned to the Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee and did not get a leadership position.

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10:45 a.m.

South Carolina Speaker Jay Lucas is making a big shake-up to the leadership of the House by changing the chairman of the committee that handles spending.

Rep. Brian White said Wednesday he is being removed as Ways and Means chairman because his Republican colleagues aren’t happy with his leadership.

The Anderson Republican has run the committee since 2011. It gets the first crack at the state budget. The chairman of the House Ways and Means Committee also sits on the State Fiscal Accountability Authority and the Joint Bond Review Committee which review and approve expensive state projects.

White says the decision was made by Lucas.

White was appointed chairman by the previous House Speaker, Bobby Harrell, who resigned in 2014 after pleading guilty to spending campaign money for personal expenses.

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