COLUMBIA, SC (WSPA) – The South Carolina House of Representatives elected a new Speaker Thursday morning.

Rep. G. Murrell Smith, Jr. (R-Sumter) was nominated and elected by fellow House members to take over as House Speaker at the end of the regular session.

Smith, an attorney from Sumter, became a member of the House in 2001 after being elected in 2000. Since 2018, he’s served as the chairman of the House Ways and Means committee, which is responsible for putting together the House’s budget plan.

He has stepped down from his role as chairman of that committee.

The Speaker oversees all House debates, signs all legislation authorized by the House, assigns House members to committees, and can call House members back to Columbia for special sessions.

Smith called it an “honor of a lifetime.”

Current Speaker of the House Jay Lucas (R-Darlington) will be resigning on May 12. He has announced he will not be running for reelection.

In a statement, Lucas wrote, “The role of House Speaker is a great honor and a great responsibility that carries with it a distinguished history. I have had the personal privilege of working closely with Murrell over the past 22 years, and I have learned a great deal about his character and skill. I have seen the dedication he gives, not only to our state and to this Body, but to each and every member seated in this Chamber today. I know Murrell is the right person to lead the House and guide it on the best course for our beloved state.”

Speaker-elect Smith will take over as House Speaker at 5:01 p.m. on May 12.

The Sumter County Republican spoke to the body after he was elected. He thanked the voters of District 67, outgoing House Speaker Lucas, and his family.

“Titles are not important to me. Credit is not important to me. The work we do for this institution and the work we do together is what really matters,” Smith said.

The speaker-elect stressed cooperation among his fellow House members. He said, “I promise you today, I will not be the Speaker for one party or one region of the state but for the entire House and all the people of South Carolina.”

In December, during the House’s organizational session, Smith is expected to be reelected as House Speaker and will serve in that role for the next legislative session.

Under the House’s rule, the Speaker of the House may not serve more than five consecutive terms in that office.