COLUMBIA — The I-95 Corridor Authority Act met its death as first priority of the S.C. House Tuesday.
With a vote of 76 to 47, along party lines, House members sustained Gov. Nikki Haley's June 7 veto of the bill ratified June 1. After Haley's veto, the Senate overrode the veto June 15. The House postponed the vote until Tuesday's session.
The I-95 Corridor Authority Act sought to establish a representative body among the counties along Interstate 95 for the purpose of economic development. The state-mandated authority was unfunded by the state, unless the General Assembly voted to provide funds at a later date.
During the recess, conservative groups rallied behind the governor's decision that the bill would create an extra layer of unnecessary government, asking representatives to sustain the veto this month.
Prior to taking the vote, House Democrats championed the cause that they acknowledged was already lost, despite the act passing with overwhelming support in 2011.
Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, likened the bill to the conservative ideology of "pulling yourself up by the bootstraps."
All speakers in favor of the bill said no state funds would be allocated to the representative body, which acted much like a development alliance with representatives from local governing bodies.
The most fiery words came from Rep. Walter McLeod, D-Lexington and Newberry.
"I think we realize we're not going to change any minds today," McLeod said.
Like many of the speakers before him, he likened the act to the similar act that created the successful I-85 Corridor Authority, which commands a region with more jobs and economic development than the "corridor of shame," the term used to describe I-95's surrounding communities.
"If you're looking for a stark contrast, drive down I-85 and then drive down I-95," McLeod said.
Minority Leader Rep. Harry Ott, D-Calhoun, Lexington and Orangeburg, went as far to thank to governor for focusing on jobs — something the act would encourage, he said.
"If you vote to sustain this veto, I'm eagerly awaiting the plan to take its place. What is your plan to create jobs along the I-95 corridor? I hear silence. Deafening silence," Ott said, adding that unemployment along the corridor is significantly higher than the rest of the state. "You're not concerned if we've got double digit unemployment as long as it doesn't affect you."