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Lucas to leave as SC speaker at end of session in May

Unversity Trustees
Jeffrey Collins/AP
South Carolina Sen. Danny Verdin, R-Laurens, left, and House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Hartsville, speak before a meeting of the College and University Trustee Screening Commission on Tuesday, March, 30, 2022, in Columbia, S.C. (AP Photo/Jeffrey Collins).

South Carolina House Speaker Jay Lucas said Thursday he will step down from his leadership post when this year's regular session ends on May 12.

In a letter to the House clerk, Lucas set the election to select his replacement for next Thursday, where Ways and Means Chairman Murrell Smith appears to have the position locked up.

Lucas announced last month he wouldn't run for reelection for a 13th term to the House.

The Hartsville Republican decided he wanted to assure an orderly transition in a body where the last three speakers have, in order, lost their majority, resigned to become ambassador to Canada and were kicked out of office after being indicted, House Majority Leader Gary Smilrill said.

"You have a great speaker in Jay Lucas and a great speaker-in—waiting, soon to be speaker-elect in Murrell Smith," said Simrill, a Republican from Rock Hill.

Smith is currently the chairman of the Ways and Means Committee. The Sumter Republican will have to resign that post from the budget-writing group because the speaker isn't on any committees.

Smith also will face re-election in December when the newly elected House class comes to the Statehouse for an organizational session.