— State senators gave their approval Thursday to an amended bill that would allow a concealed weapons permit holder to carry their gun into a South Carolina bar or restaurant that serves alcohol, provided they do not drink. The legislation now heads back to the House, where it is expected to easily pass — possibly as soon as next week.
— Meanwhile, the House of Representatives on Thursday unanimously passed legislation that restricts how law enforcement agencies can use unmanned aerial drones. While it doesn’t ban the drones outright, the legislation requires that police departments get permission from a local governing body (such as a city council or the state legislature) before buying one. The bill now heads to the Senate.
— Early that morning, a joint conference of representatives and senators crafted a final compromise on a government restructuring bill, moving the largest overhaul in state government in decades close to the finish line. The bill puts bureaucratic functions of state government into a new, Cabinet-level Department of Administration and eliminates the quasi-executive, quasi-legislative Budget and Control Board.
— Several groups gathered at the Statehouse Thursday to tout new numbers showing that South Carolina’s teen birth rate had been cut nearly in half from 1993 to 2012, falling by 47 percent. The S.C. Campaign to Prevent Teen Pregnancy says there were 36.4 births for every 1,000 girls in 2012, which the group’s executive director called “one of the nation’s… most remarkable… success stories.”
One lawmaker took advantage of the declining numbers to push for a revamp in South Carolina sex education standards. Rep. Jenny Horne, R-Summerville, called for “abstinence only” education to be “updated” with “medically accurate information in the modern times.” A bill that would have replaced current sex ed standards died in a House subcommittee last year.
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