Abortion bill may delay passage of roads bill

Abortion bill may delay passage of roads bill

COLUMBIA, SC (WCSC/WIS) - It could be a long time before the bumpy, crumbling roads you have to drive on get fixed even though lawmakers promised a roads bill this year.

The Senate agreed Thursday to move a bill banning abortions after 20 weeks to the top of its debate list.

The move has some lawmakers and advocates steamed, not because of what's in the bill, but because it may have just killed a lot of other votes.

"You're putting it in front of the ethics bill, you're putting it in front of body cameras," Orangeburg Sen. Brad Hutto said.

"Constituents want their roads fixed," Bill Ross, with the SC Alliance to Fix Our Roads, said.

But now all the bills covering roads, ethics, and body cams are in limbo.

So how does moving one bill up put other bills in jeopardy?

When a bill is ready for a vote in the Senate, it gets in line, and Senators debate each bill in order.

If senators vote on what's called a special order, which they did on the abortion bill Thursday, it moves it up to the top, and pushes everything down. It happens a lot, but next week is the crossover date. And for many of these bills, if they aren't debated by then, they aren't debated at all."

"Time is real real key in getting something done this year," Ross said.

As to why lawmakers voted to move up the abortion bill, there are two answers.

Lawmakers like Sen. Lee Bright say guarding unborn babies trumps other matters.

"To me there's no greater priority than protecting innocent life," Bright said. "I think that's what we should be about in the Senate."

But if you ask Hutto, he believes the move is purely political.

"Next year's an election year. I think a lot of my Republican colleagues are concerned about primary opposition, this is apparently a big thing within the Republican primary," Hutto said.

Along with the abortion bill, ethics, roads, and body cameras, the Senate also has to hammer out a budget, and they only have a little over two weeks of working days left this session.

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