Historic day of firsts and lasts at the State House
COLUMBIA, S.C. (WOLO)– It was a historic day over at the State House.
It is the first time the Senate elects their president instead of having the Lt. Governor fulfill that role.
“Senator from Charleston, this is the day that we will extract Lt. Gov. from the Senate chambers. This is a day of history. I served on this body for 12 years,’ Kevin Bryant said.
They elected long-time senator Harvey Peeler Jr. as their first Senate president. The Senate also welcomed the only new member of the 2019 session. Dick Harpootlian is filling the Richland and Lexington counties’ seat that was vacant after John Courson resigned.
“That at 69, I’m the oldest freshman Senator in the history of this chamber,” Harpootlian said.
Harpootlian has been a public servant in many different forms, from former prosecutor to state Democratic Party chairman. Although, he said becoming a senator might be the most exciting and interesting role yet.
“We can disagree without being disagreeable. But we must never abandon our efforts to improve the life and conditions of our children and this state, not just this body, but the state has clearly failed to do that,” Harpootlian said.
The House of Representatives has many new faces including Seth Rose representing Richland County. Rose echoed similar thoughts on what the legislature should accomplish this session.
“We have a billion dollar surplus, some of it is recurring, some of it isn’t. But I really hope and believe that public education is due for an overhaul this year,” Rose said.
Even with all of the firsts, it was also a day of lasts, not only for Kevin Bryant but also Jim Melton, who served as Sergeant in Arms for more than 40 years.
“I’ve seen a lot of changes, the Senate has dramatically changed in forty years. And for the good, it’s a good change,” Melton said.
A very historic day here at the state house. Everyone we spoke to is excited and ready to get to work, especially with the surplus in the budget.