A roundup of what’s making news in South Carolina state government.
The House and Senate are both out of the chamber Thursday, as legislative leaders didn’t want their members driving through a potential six inches of snow forecasted for the Upstate and Rock Hill regions.
Naturally, it ended up being much less than forecasted. But lawmakers had already returned to their home districts by then.
— State senators gave their approval to a bill Wednesday that would create tougher penalties against those convicted of domestic violence. The measure includes language that would bar gun ownership for those convicted of any level of domestic violence. It passed in a 38-3 vote, with opponents saying they felt the gun ban was too strict for those convicted on low-level misdemeanors. The measure will head to the House after another procedural vote expected next week.
— The Senate Education Committee advanced a bill to the full Senate Wednesday that would get rid of South Carolina State University’s current board of trustees. Instead, a new panel would take its place appointed directly by the governor and General Assembly leaders. The board voted 10-1 Wednesday in favor of the proposal. But the sole “no” vote by Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, and his decision to file a “minority report” opposing the bill will make it harder to take up on the Senate floor.
— An unusually animated Gov. Nikki Haley accused the House’s chief budget writer State Rep. Brian White, R-Anderson, of running up the state’s debt with a proposed $500 million in borrowing. The language was included in the proposed budget plant that will be taken up on the House floor next month. Much of the half-billion bonds will be used to pay for college construction and job training projects. Other House budget writers defended the bonds as a way to pay for the projects at a time the state’s debt is comparatively low.
— The board that governs South Carolina’s environmental and public health agency said Wednesday that it will conduct a national search for its next chief. The State newspaper reports the board for the Department of Health and Environmental Control appears to be stung by criticism it got for only interviewing one candidate — former state insurance director Eleanor Kitzman — in January. Kitzman withdrew her name from consideration this weekend after a strong backlash from Democrats (and a few Republicans) over her credentials and close political ties to Gov. Haley.