Headlines from the SC State Capitol:
–Gov. Nikki Haley was cleared of any ethics violations Wednesday after the House Ethics Committee voted 5-1 to dismiss the accusations against her. The committee had met behind closed doors over the past month as it investigated the claim. Under House rules, committee members could not tell the public what they were discussing until finding “probable cause” Wednesday morning. The committee’s lone Democrat said she voted against dismissing the charges because she believed a public hearing was needed first.
–While Haley’s ethics hearing was the top news story Wednesday, the one with the biggest implications was probably a decision by the state Supreme Court. The court ruled that candidates who were late filing financial paperwork could not be placed on the ballot for next month’s primaries. The decision could effectively remove more than 100 candidates from their respective races. But no one is really sure yet exactly how many candidates will be affected.
–The House on Wednesday approved the latest version of a government restructuring bill that has bounced around the Statehouse for nearly 15 months. This new proposal would split the massive Budget & Control Board into three new agencies, with the bulk of its employees going to a proposed Cabinet-level Department of Administration under the governor’s control.
–The Senate sent back to the House a proposed constitutional amendment that would require the governor and lieutenant governor to run on the same ticket. Currently the two offices are elected separately. The House originally passed the resolution last year/ The Senate voted to have the changes take effect in 2018, after a possible second term for Gov. Haley would expire. House leaders say they are not yet sure whether or not they will support the change. If they do, the question will be decided by voters in November.
–Senators have held up a bill that would replace the entire board of trustees at South Carolina State University. Several members of the Higher Education subcommittee were concerned the proposal goes too far and is unprecedented. The House version would have replaced the current 13-member board with a temporary 7-person board until new elections could be held next year.
–A House committee, meanwhile, blocked a bill that would have required bars to recycle their glass bottles. Supporters say the idea, which passed the Senate last year, is a way to keep thousands of tons of waste from going to landfills each year. Opponents called it an unfair regulation which singles out restaurants that serve alcohol. An Environmental Affairs panel voted against the bill by a 3-1 vote.