A news analysis
One of the biggest flamethrowers with the uber-conservative S.C. Freedom Caucus has introduced legislation to make sure people appointed to represent church-operated childcare centers are from “registered faith-based centers.” The bill (H. 3745) by GOP S.C. Rep. Adam Morgan is stuck in a committee.
His fiery colleague, Rep. R.J. May, R-Lexington, has introduced no bills, but has entered two resolutions in the S.C. House – one recognizing the S.C. Moms for Liberty and the other recognizing a mother of the year.
They and 18 other House members elected as Republicans are members of the splinter Freedom Caucus, which wants the already conservative Republican Party to be more conservative.
“These guys are a headache,” said S.C. Rep. Micah Caskey, a Lexington County Republican frustrated by fissures caused by the Freedom Caucus. “In many ways, they’re an obstacle in enacting conservative legislation.”
More than anything, many observers say they seem to be more interested in making headlines, as some old-time politicians would say, than headway. In the last week, they’ve been complaining about not being able to raise money as a caucus. So they filed a lawsuit. They’ve also filed lawsuits against school districts.
A thin legislative record
So far this session, the 20 members of the caucus have introduced 108 bills and 30 resolutions. Of that number, three of the 20 have introduced half of the bills, meaning the rest of them each have introduced an average of just three bills. One member – Rep. Alan Morgan is a Republican from Greenville who is brother to Adam (mentioned above) – has introduced zero bills or resolutions.
An analysis of bills introduced by the Freedom Caucus members shows some of them have introduced measures backed through the years by mainstream Republicans. Examples: Constitutional carry of guns, changes to the ways judges are picked, term limits, closed primaries, tough abortion proposals and all manner of tax reforms or tax exemptions.
But members of the Freedom Caucus also have introduced legislation many would consider a little “out there,” such as a proposal to keep local governments from limiting what food you can grow, stopping drag shows in private businesses, mandating that parents have the ultimate responsibility to bring up their kids, changing marriage licenses, using paper ballots for voting, keeping anybody from China from owning more than 100 acres of land and a prohibition on changing a birth gender on a birth certificate. They’re also vocal about the hot-button issue of critical race theory being used to inform teaching in public schools – when it’s not used at all in South Carolina.
In the Statehouse, the way to get things done is to introduce bills – or legislative proposals – that colleagues can vote for or against. Resolutions are generally House-passed sentiments to memorialize or congratulate South Carolinians.
“They don’t have the numbers to change the votes,” said Caskey, referring to the traditional Republican Caucus, which has a majority of the votes in the S.C. House. “We’ve got enough real Republicans to pass what we want. They’re not driving anything, not affecting anything, other than being a headache on social media.”
The Freedom Caucus often claims it is pushing the legislative agenda to the right, which Caskey questioned considering the chamber approved a constitutional carry gun bill before the caucus existed and it has been pushing tough abortion legislation for years.
“This is just about self-promotion for the sake of their own egos,” Caskey said. “If they were genuinely interested in passing legislation, they would work with their colleagues, not against us.”
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