Upstate lawmaker says missing seal could make state laws invalid - FOX Carolina 21

Upstate lawmaker says missing seal could make state laws invalid

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SC State House (Source: Wikimedia Commons) SC State House (Source: Wikimedia Commons)

There is a lot that has made its way through Columbia in recent years in terms of legislation--things meant to protect or help people, to address needs, and to set aside money to make that happen.

But what if all that was null and void?

"The Constitution says for it to be an active state law, it has got to have a state seal on it," said Rep. Joshua Putnam of Anderson.  "So, if the bill does not have a seal on it, you have a question--is that a state law?"

That is a question that Putnam says he's been trying to get to the bottom of for months.

On his most recent trip on Friday, he said, "We pulled through 440 bills. Out of those 440, we found 109 did not have the state seal anywhere on the bill."

According to the state Constitution, "No Bill or Joint Resolution shall have the force of law until it shall have been read three times and on three several days in each house, has had the Great Seal of the State affixed to it, and has been signed by the President of the Senate and the Speaker of the House of Representatives."

The job of placing the seal has long been that of the Secretary of State.

"The seal being affixed to the ratified act is ministerial and ceremonial, and because that seal is not on the ratified act, it doesn't deem that act invalid," said Secretary of State Mark Hammond.

Hammond said once he was alerted to the lack of a seal, he started work to fix it.

But he said the buck shouldn't stop with him.

"If you look at the law," said Hammond. "It doesn't necessarily say that the Secretary of State is the one that affixes the great seal."

Putnam said he came across the issue while working on ways to modernize the Secretary of State's Office.

Putnam is also running for Secretary of State against Hammond, who believes the issue comes down to nothing more than politics.

"I think it's disappointing that he uses this for political gain and to garnish attention for his campaign," said Hammond.

"I'm not shocked that a career politician would try to point the fingers at someone that's being truthful and transparent," said Putnam.

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