State lawmakers warned to keep arguments civil

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South Carolina’s House speaker is warning two veteran representatives whose argument last month escalated into some physical contact that they must keep their future disagreements civil.

Speaker Jay Lucas decided against punishing either Rep. Jerry Govan or Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, saying in a letter Tuesday he was unable to determine what happened, because accounts varied widely.

The two Orangeburg Democrats were arguing May 11 in a hallway leading to the chamber over legislation consolidating Orangeburg County school districts. The bill was approved Tuesday.

Lucas calls Govan the “initial aggressor,” since he approached Cobb-Hunter as she was walking away from him. The speaker says Govan should have avoided the confrontation entirely.

Cobb-Hunter did not immediately return messages Wednesday. Govan had no immediate comment.

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