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Sheheen releases 2011 legislative agenda

Posted: December 30, 2010 2:24 p.m.
Updated: January 3, 2011 5:00 a.m.

In his first major action since completing his recent campaign for governor, S.C. Sen. Vincent Sheheen has released a list of bills he has pre-filed for the 2011 legislative session.

“I am pre-filing a legislative agenda that, if enacted, would fundamentally and dramatically reform the way South Carolina’s Government operates,” Sheheen said. “If adopted, this ‘Agenda for Change’ would bring responsibility to spending, restructure the governor’s responsibilities and powers, modernize the legislature’s operations, and crack down on waste, fraud and abuse within our government.

“As a member of the minority party, my obligation and goal is to put forward and challenge the powers that be with ideas that would fundamentally reform what has become a broken government. My hope is that this year, the leaders of our state will embrace the true change that is so desperately needed in our long suffering state.”

Sheheen’s “Agenda For Change” includes:

• Establishing a Department of Administration -- this bill establish an administrative department as an agency of the executive branch to be headed by a director appointed by the governor. Sheheen is proposing that the proposed Department of Administration take over functions currently handled by the State Budget and Control Board as well as certain divisions within the governor’s office and other agencies.

• Programmatic Budgeting -- Sheheen wants to require narrative descriptions in the state budget for each separate program administered by a state agency. He also wants a requirement for each agency’s budget recommendation to include an overall budget recommendation by category as well as a similar recommendation for each separate program administered by the agency and the specific source of funds for the agency.

• Legislative Oversight/Accountability -- this bill would make technical corrections to a part of the state code; require certain reports from various departments relating to employment protection; allow standing legislative committees to have oversight jurisdiction over agencies which fall under their purview; and to provide those same committees investigative powers over those agencies with witnesses having the benefit of any privileges they would have in civil court.

• Establish the Office of Inspector General -- an inspector general would have the authority to address “fraud, waste, abuse and wrongdoing” within the state’s executive government agencies.

• Prohibit State Funded Lobbyists -- Sheheen wants to prohibit the use of public funds, with exceptions, to employ or contract with lobbyists.

• Legislative Budget Reductions -- Sheheen is proposing that annual appropriations to the House and Senate be reduced in amounts equal to the average reduction of appropriations to agencies, departments, institutions, board or commissions.

The 2011 legislative session begins Jan. 11.

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