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The 2024 session of the South Carolina General Assembly concluded with farewells and a rush of bills passed

Dick Harpootlian pauses to collect his thoughts (Via Mike Penn/Shutterstock)

The South Carolina General Assembly wrapped up its 2024 session on Wednesday, dealing with a flurry of bills and allowing several lawmakers to bid farewell.

During the session’s final day, legislators passed a bill to change how judges are screened before their confirmation vote by the Assembly. They also overrode Governor Henry McMaster’s veto of a bill that mandates clearing the records of individuals convicted of certain underage alcohol sales offenses. However, they did not advance a bill that aimed to restrict the teaching of topics like race in K-12 public school classrooms.

Before the legislative rush, nearly a dozen lawmakers delivered goodbye speeches in both the House and Senate. These included Democratic Senator Nikki Setzler, who opted not to seek reelection after serving for 48 years.

Setzler reminisced about his time in the Senate, recalling debates that lasted days and budget battles that nearly turned physical. He praised the integrity of past legislators who paved the way for public service and emphasized the importance of moderate leadership in South Carolina’s growth and prosperity over recent decades.

Nikki Setzler claps as the flowers are presented to his wife (Via Mike Penn/Shutterstock)

Despite political shifts, Setzler remained committed to representing his constituents over party allegiance. He highlighted the need for lawmakers to prioritize the interests of the people they serve.

Setzler, now the longest-serving state lawmaker in the country, acknowledged that the passing of his friend and colleague, Senator Hugh Leatherman, influenced his decision to retire after his last election victory. Leatherman’s dedication to public service until his passing at age 90 left a lasting impact on Setzler.

Republican Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey, who formed a close bond with Setzler despite their political differences, reflected on their collaboration during the fallout of a failed nuclear power plant project involving South Carolina Electric & Gas and Santee Cooper.

The session concluded with a mix of legislative action and heartfelt farewells as lawmakers prepared to adjourn until the next session.

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