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Beyond Ford & Harrell Ethics Violations, 2014 Political Year Was Lackluster
Published:
12/31/2014 11:26:56 AM


Bobby Harrell
 

Robert Ford
 
Staff Reports


Local legislators anticipated a busy 2014 legislative session. That didn’t happen. In fact, the 2014 legislative session has been criticized as one of the most unproductive. Not much legislatively occurred in 2014, but that doesn’t mean political sparks didn’t fly.

House Dist. 116 Rep. Robert Brown said the pace of the 2014 session likely would be set by legislators’ focus on re-election. He didn’t expect the legislature to argue many controversial issues since sitting legislators don’t want to alienate voters. They didn’t. According to some Black members of the local delegation the session was a fair accomplishment that saw more progress in bills prevented than passed.

Ethics reform had been at the forefront of legislative issues since the high profile cases of violations involving former Charleston Sen. Robert Ford and House Speaker Bobby Harrell catapulted the issue into public scrutiny. But several Black legislators say the general assembly’s failure to pass a bill that would expand Medicaid coverage to more citizens probably had more impact on African Americans and others.

North Charleston Rep. David Mack said the general assembly’s failure to pass the Medicaid expansion legislation probably was the most damaging aspect of the 2014 session. Mack said failure to provide the expansion is a purely political maneuver that denies citizens an option the state is capable of providing.

Under the Medicaid expansion legislation the federal government would pick up the tab for providing the health care to more citizens for the next three years. After that, the feds would pay 90 percent of the cost with the state chipping in the remaining 10 percent.

Mid-term elections proved to be legislators’ greatest accomplishment in 2014. Few seats changed as most incumbents ran unopposed. The greatest upheaval in the legislature was House Speaker Bobby Harrell’s guilty plea to ethics violations leading to his subsequent resignation. Ford also went to court this year, but pled not guilty. His trial likely will be in 2015.

Closer to home local government also was lackluster in 2014. Like state mid-term elections, local general elections in November yielded little change. Charleston County Councilman Henry Darby continued his challenge to the Confederate Flag at The Citadel and Charleston City Councilman William Dudley Gregorie remains adamant about his candidacy for mayor in 2016.
 

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