State Sen. Vincent Sheheen has been leading the charge to restructure South Carolina’s government for years, but now he’s going all-in. The Democratic leader on Thursday called for the state to establish an entirely new constitution through a constitutional convention.
Sheheen, who barely lost the governor’s office to Nikki Haley during the Republican upheaval in 2010, said a new constitutional convention is the only way to “change the [political] culture” in the Palmetto State, according to the South Carolina Radio Network.
Sen. Sheheen’s proposal for a new constitution is hardly a radical suggestion. South Carolina has had seven different constitutions since 1776, including the current one passed in 1895. The 1895 constitutional convention was called by notoriously racist Gov. ”Pitchfork” Ben Tillman, and enacted several measures aimed at suppressing the African-American vote through poll taxes, literacy tests and other Jim Crow laws. The constitution also banned interracial marriage, a provision that wasn’t removed until 1999.
Sheheen called for a new constitutional convention on Thursday while discussing restructuring measures such as replacing the state’s Budget & Control Board with a Department of Administration under the control of the governor, a measure which has narrowly — and consistently — failed to pass. Sen. Sheheen has pre-filed another Dept. of Administration bill for the current legislative session, along with Sens. Larry Martin and Shane Massey — both Republicans.
Sheheen also pre-filed legislation to make the offices of Adjutant General, Commissioner of Agriculture, and Superintendent of Education appointed by the governor. According to Patch’s Chris Winston, Sheheen also plans to file legislation abolishing the offices of Secretary of State and Comptroller General entirely.