COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – This week, a new-look South Carolina House of Representatives met for the first time since last month’s election.
Sumter County Republican Murrell Smith is gearing up for his first full term as House Speaker. He said, “We’ll see a concentration on what I call ‘pocketbook issues.'”
The House welcomed 27 new members this week. House Republicans also now have a super majority with 88 out of the 124 seats in the chamber.
“My priority as Speaker is that every person is elected by the same amount of people and deserves the same amount of respect than anyone else in this body,” Speaker Smith said.
According to Smith, economic development will be at the forefront of the House’s agenda in 2023. “We need to continue to modernize our economic activity in South Carolina. We need to approve certain conditions. We’ve had great successes on the economic front but we need to continue to make sure we have the most business friendly environment in the country.”
He also said public safety will take priority in the House. They’ll look at bond reform to keep violent repeat offenders in jail and take steps to address the fentanyl problem.
When it comes to education, House Republicans and Democrats both say they want to see increased pay for teachers. House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford (D-Richland) said House Democrats are looking forward to getting to work.
“I believe as long as we put South Carolina first and we all make sure South Carolina is going to preeminent thought in our minds when we come to the State House, we’ll all get along,” said Rutherford.
Rutherford said the House should consider legislation that would legalize medical marijuana and sports betting in 2023. He said, “Just because we’re doing well does not mean we have to take our foot off the gas pedal. People want to gamble, and they can do it on their phones on apps right now, so why not be able to give South Carolina the ability to benefit from that.”
The first day of the new legislative session is January 10th.