Addressing a hastily-called joint session, House Speaker Bobby Harrell addressed legislators, telling them "this was a day that we all knew was coming, even though many of us hoped a day like this would never come."
"Jim has always been an inspiration to me," said Lt. Governor Andre Bauer, who followed Harrell. "He was always someone I could turn to when I needed something. Today is truly a sad occasion and I join all of you in mourning this day."
Some of Merrill's fellow legislators poured out their hearts in very emotional comments on the House floor:
It's really sad when something like this happens to someone you were just getting to know and enjoy working with.
- Rep. Carl Gullick (R-York)
It's just so hard to believe. I mean he was always so full of life and energy.
- Sen. Larry Grooms (R-Berkeley)
On a day like this, we can't help but look back at our own lives and wonder where we're headed.
- Rep. Chip Limehouse (R-Charleston)
I had been looking forward to working with him, and then something like this happens.
- Rep. Shannon Erickson (R-Beaufort)
Then the proceedings were interrupted by freshman Senator Paul Campbell, who went over to Jim Merrill's desk, looked at the empty seat, and then walked up to the microphone and said:
Happy 40th Birthday, Jim. You know we all wish you the best.
Majority Leader Jim Merrill
from the Blogland!