South Carolina overhauling port board
South Carolina's House and Senate voted Tuesday to override the governor's veto of a bill, passing a law that will change the make-up of the board of the state port authority.
The votes were overwhelming: 35-9 in the Senate and 102-2 in the House.
Gov. Mark Sanford vetoed the bill earlier this month, saying the proposed law 'would hinder and slow change at the SPA. It does this by effectively eliminating the governor's ability to use his removal power with members of the board.'
The bill boosts the size of the board from nine to 11 members by including the state's secretaries of Transportation and Commerce or their designees as non-voting members. The nine voting members would serve five-year terms and would have to meet requirements such as having a college degree and having five years experience in areas such as transportation, logistics, economics, law and labor.
The bill also requires the governor to ensure 'diverse interests represented by the port are represented' and seek to have accountants, manufacturers, shippers and importers, a member representing the state’s economic development interests, and a member who has served as a corporate chief executive officer.
Senators supporting the governor's veto argued that the bill was part of an overall trend in the state that was placing too much power in the hand of the legislature and not enough in the executive. They said the governor should have the power to hire and fire board members at will, though they noted this power has been used rarely in the past by most governors and politically difficult to exercise.
Sen. Thomas Davis, who supported the governor's veto, expressed concern about the board possibly once again becoming 'Charleston-centric' and not embracing plans to build a new port in Jasper on the Savannah River. But the new legislation directs 'the authority shall take all action necessary to expeditiously develop a port in Jasper County.'
The bill also directs the board to sell land in Port Royal by the end of the year and on Daniel Island, except for dredge disposal sites needed in connection with the construction of the North Charleston terminal on the Charleston Naval Complex and for harbor deepening and for channel and berth maintenance.
Supporters of the override such as Sen. Robert Ford argued that the new law will create a more “stable authority.”
The Charleston Post and Courier reported that the port authority is expected to name Jim Newsome, a long-time executive with German shipping line Hapag-Lloyd, as its new chief executive at a board meeting next week. ' Chris Dupin