Every two years, following the general election, the House of Representatives holds an organizational session to elect leadership, adopt rules, assign committees, and elect the respective committee chairs. We re-elected Murrell Smith (my law school classmate) from Sumter as speaker of the house and Tommy Pope from York as speaker pro tempore.
I was elected chairman of the House Judiciary Committee, a committee on which I have served since first being elected to the House in 2012. As Judiciary chair, I will no longer serve on the House Legislative Oversight Committee. For many years I devoted significant ink in this column regarding legislative oversight in South Carolina.
In 2014, I was elected as the first chairman of the then-newly created oversight committee and was thereafter re-elected for three cycles. As the architect of the House LOC structure and oversight process, I could not be prouder of the collective accomplishments of the staff and committee’s work over the past eight years.
We established certain foundational principles rooted in transparency and accountability with a commitment to public non-partisan reviews of the state agencies.
The committee has completed more than 40 reviews of state agencies, received six national awards, has been recognized by the national Legislative Program Evaluation Society for impacts on public policy, and has twice been recognized as a “best practice” for other legislatures around the country. Our structure and process have been described as a model for all state legislatures to consider.
To date, more than 279 of the committee’s recommendations have been implemented, with 67 being through legislative enactment, and more than 50 of the 505 bills pre-filed on Dec. 8 seek to implement oversight recommendations.
It has been a privilege and honor for me to serve as the House LOC Chair and I firmly believe, as President Woodrow Wilson said, that “quite as important as legislation is vigilant oversight of administration.” By any measure the work of the oversight committee has been impressive.
I have thoroughly enjoyed my tenure there and will miss being a part the committee, but as chairman of Judiciary my efforts need to be focused on the many bills that are assigned to that committee.
As the holiday season approaches, I could not be more excited to have all my children back under one roof, at least for a few weeks. Our oldest child, Reedy, was elected student body president of the University of South Carolina last spring and because of that position she has not been able to spend any significant time at home since then.
As I assist the Elf on the Shelf’s move to a different location each morning to keep out a watchful eye and observe the children’s stockings hung from the mantle with care, I long for the days when we had our little people here all the time, but I quickly realize how incredibly blessed we are as a family.
Rose joins me in wishing you and your family a happy and safe holiday season.
Weston Newton is the representative for District 120 in the State House of Representatives. WestonNewton@schouse.gov