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Legislature: Ryan plans ambitious agenda for final session

By Jackie R. Broach
Coastal Observer

Though S.C. Rep. Kevin Ryan won’t seek re-election in 2012, he won’t idle away his last year in the House.

Ryan is ready for the session to start in January and has already pre-filed five bills, including one that will again seek to give Georgetown County Council the county legislative delegation’s power to appoint members to the Waccamaw Regional Council of Governments.

A bill Ryan introduced in the last session proposed to transfer powers of appointment for several bodies, including Waccamaw Regional and the County Transportation Committee. It was killed after being deemed local legislation and he drafted another version that would have applied the measure for local boards statewide.

The bill didn’t garner any support from the delegation’s other House member, Rep. Carl Anderson, and failed to make headway.

“I’m hopeful that with Council supporting and asking for this particular appointment, we can make it happen,” Ryan said of his latest attempt.

Waccamaw Regional represents three counties and two have already passed resolutions in support of the transfer of power. It is the only council of governments in the state that doesn’t allow appointments to be made at a local level.

The House and Senate Ethics committees would be done away with under another piece of legislation Ryan pre-filed. The duties of those bodies would be handled instead by the State Ethics Commission.

“This addresses the fact that we currently police ourselves when it comes to ethics violations and reporting,” Ryan said. “There is no reason for us to be treated any differently than other state officials.”

In that same vein, he wants to close the General Assembly Retirement System to new members, something that would be accomplished under H.4481. Anyone elected after June 2012 would be eligible to participate in the State Optional Retirement Plan open to most state employees.

“GARS is an unnecessary legislative perk that really demonstrates the sense of entitlement held by so many in Columbia,” Ryan said. It has more generous benefits than other state retirement plans, is mandatory for General Assembly members and allows members to receive benefits while still in office.

Concerns raised by an appointment to the state Aeronautics Commission this summer are also on the list of matters Ryan wants to address before he leaves office.

He pre-filed legislation that would require a physical quorum of members at meetings to elect commissioners in the future, instead of allowing proxies to constitute a quorum. This would apply to the Aeronautics Commission, as well as other groups including the state Agriculture Commission and the commission of the Department of Transportation.

At a meeting this year where an Horry County resident was appointed to the commission, only two people were present. The appointment was contested when questions arose about the residency of the previous appointee. The seat is supposed to rotate between counties. Ryan’s bill also calls for candidates to file an affidavit verifying their residency information.

The last of the bills Ryan pre-filed would prohibit the legislature from naming any roadway, bridge, interchange, interstate or intersection for an individual unless he or she is deceased and has distinguished themselves through service in the military or as a law enforcement officer, firefighter, or other emergency responder.

All four members of the delegation will address the upcoming session Friday during a breakfast meeting hosted by the Georgetown County Chamber of Commerce. It starts at 8 a.m. at Land’s End restaurant. Tickets are $15 for Chamber members, $25 for others.

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