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Monday, September 15, 2008

SC Legislator Change Over Past 30 years

Thanks to State House Report ( for the SC legislator statistics.  They also have a commentary of what impact these changes have. Go to their web site for more information.
"A Statehouse Report comparison of the people who served in the legislature 30 years ago to those who were in Columbia this year is revealing:
  • Older. State legislators today are older by almost a decade. The average state senator's age in 1978 was 49; today, it's 57. In the House, the average member's age in 1978 was 46; today, it's 54.

  • Still male. The General Assembly continues to be dominated by men. Of the 170 members in both chambers today, 155 are men. This year, 15 lawmakers were women - up a whopping five members from 30 years ago.

  • Still white. Racial diversity at the Statehouse today is better than 30 years ago when blacks comprised only 8 percent of members. Today, 35 legislators - just over one in five -- are black, compared to 13 in 1978. But the number of black lawmakers today in the General Assembly still is fewer than the 30 percent you'd expect if the body were truly representative of the state's population. The biggest systemic change in diversity is in the state Senate, which had no black senators 30 years ago, but has eight today.

  • A lot more Republicans. In 1978, Democrats overwhelmingly dominated the General Assembly with 153 of 170 seats. Now they're out of power, but still hold 69 seats, compared to the 111 held by the GOP. Today, there are seven times more Republican lawmakers than just 30 years ago when they held three Senate seats and 13 House seats.

  • Fewer lawyers. Thirty years ago, lawyers dominated the General Assembly. Of the 170 members, 64 were attorneys; today, 38 legislators are lawyers. Alex Sanders, who served in the state Senate in 1978 before going on to become a judge and president of the College of Charleston, suggested for the higher number of lawyers then was because lawyers couldn't advertise like they can today. Thirty years ago, a great way for lawyers to get out their names to the public - particularly for young lawyers - was to run for office.

  • More retirees. In 1978, only three members of the legislature were retired. That's grown eightfold as 23 members today are retired - a statistic that likely accounts for today's Statehouse being filled with older members."

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