By Ben Homeyer
The House came into session December 6th thru the 8th to organize, introduce legislation, and most importantly get assigned to committees and pick their chairmen.
Murrell Smith (R-Sumter) was unanimously elected Speaker. In addition, Rep. Tommy Pope (R-York) was reelected to serve as speaker pro tempore.
Party Leadership positions were also solidified. Rep. Davey Hiott (R-Pickens) was reelected by his Republican colleagues to serve as Majority Leader, and Democrats reelected Rep. Todd Rutherford (D-Richland) to serve as Minority Leader.
Representatives Jay West (R-Anderson) and Roger Kirby (D-Florence) were elected as Assistant Majority and Minority Leaders.
The four committees which the association deals with the most are all under new leadership with many new members
Rep. Bruce Bannister (R-Greenville) was elected to chair the Ways & Means Committee, which deals with all revenue issues – including writing the state budget. With almost $4 billion in new revenue for 2023 these positions are coveted. Nearly half of the committee members are new to the group this year. View the roster here.
Rep. Weston Newton (R-Beaufort) was elected to chair the House Judiciary Committee. He succeeds state Rep. Chris Murphy (R-Dorchester), who was moved to the Ways and Means Committee. A number of freshman were put on the committee and eleven total new members are on the committee. View Members here
Rep. Shannon Erickson (R-Beaufort) was elected to chair the House Education & Public Works Committee (EPW). She succeeds long-serving Chairwoman Rep. Rita Allison (R-Spartanburg), who was defeated in the June primaries. Rep. Erickson previously was on the ways and means committee and was in charge of transportation budget. View Members here
Rep. Bill Hixon (R-North Augusta) who was first elected chair of House Agriculture with three weeks to go last session was re-elected to the position for the full term. Rep. Davey Hiott who previously served as chairman will remain on the committee. The committee will be pushing farther to the right with numerous new freedom caucus members joining the committee. View Members here
With one more round of pre-filing to go over 1000 pieces of legislation have already been introduced. Everything from tort reform changes to minimum wage bills and everything in between have been dropped. We will continue to monitor all bills during the session.