COLUMBIA, SC (WIS) - A bill to remove South Carolina State University's leadership could become law within a matter of weeks. Both bills which propose just that have moved to the state House of Representatives.
It's a surprise move because the House of Representatives version of the bill was actually supposed to go before the Ways and Means committee on Thursday.
Instead, the House voted to go ahead and put it on their calendar for debate and vote, meaning lawmakers essentially skipped a big step, and could turn a bill proposing sacking SC State's board into a law by the end of March.
"We will move forward in getting this done," Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter said. "We cannot afford to wait for the July fiscal year to begin."
Both the Senate and House bills have been put on fast tracks for a vote.
The Senate bill was placed on special order at the beginning of the week to speed up the process, and Thursday, Sen. Harvey Peeler called for the Legislative Audit Council to also look into the embattled university.
"It's hopefully to separate fact from fiction at South Carolina State," Peeler said.
The House bill was put on the calendar for a vote without getting the nod from a full legislative committee.
"There was no need for us to have a committee meeting," Cobb-Hunter said.
Neither senators nor representatives believe there's going to be much debate on the bills, but there is a question of which version they decide on or if they merge the two bills together.
"What I'm hoping is that the Senate will recognize what the House has done," Cobb-Hunter said.
"This is a bipartisan effort in the Senate and a lot of long hours went into this subject," Peeler said.
Both bills start off the same -- removing the school's board of trustees, but the House goes a step further with removing the president.
The Senate bill creates a new five person board. The House bill gives the Budget and Control Board the ability to appoint school leaders.
?Another big concern with both plans deal with Southern Association of Colleges and Schools accreditation, which SC State has been struggling to maintain.
There were concerns the House bill would cause SCSU to lose its rating with SACS, but Cobb-Hunter said the House worked with the group to make their plan accreditation-friendly.