March 28, 2015

Ted Cruz to campaign in South Carolina next week

While more than a dozen potential 2016 presidential wannabes are considering runs for the White House, so far only one — Texas Sen. Ted Cruz — has officially entered the race.

Sen. Ted Cruz speaks at an SCGOP fundraiser earlier this year

Sen. Ted Cruz speaks at an SCGOP fundraiser earlier this year

Cruz will tour the Upstate and Midlands during a two-day campaign trek next week. The Republican will start with a York County GOP town hall in Rock Hill on April 3, according to a schedule released by his campaign.

Later that afternoon, he’ll appear at The Beacon Drive-In in Spartanburg for a town hall at 4:15 p.m., then travel to Greenville for a 7 p.m. reception at The Poinsett Club with a Republican women’s group.

On Saturday, Cruz will appear in Aiken on April 4.

Details of the visit were first reported by the Greenville News.

Cruz was the first candidate of either party to officially enter the race. The pastor’s son made the announcement in an appearance at the Baptist-affiliated school Liberty University in Virginia.

His wife and two daughters will be with him on Friday, according to his campaign.

South Carolina jobless rate stays at 6.6% for third straight month

SCDEW Executive Director Cheryl Stanton (FILE)

SCDEW Executive Director Cheryl Stanton said a record number of people held jobs in South Carolina last month (FILE)

Roughly 10,000 more South Carolinians were listed as having jobs in February than a month earlier, but a corresponding increase in unemployed residents meant the overall jobless rate remained 6.6 percent last month, according to new data released Friday.

The South Carolina Department of Employment and Workforce (SCDEW) reported 2.09 million people were listed as “employed” in February, which the agency says is a record high. That was up from a reported 2.08 million in January. Meanwhile, the number of unemployed residents increased from nearly 147,000 to 148,400.

South Carolina dropped slightly further behind the national average, which fell from 5.7 percent unemployment in January to 5.5 percent last month. South Carolina’s unemployment rate was a half-percentage point higher than in February 2014, when it was reported to be 6.1 percent. But the labor force has also increased by nearly 70,000 jobs since then.

[Read more…]

SC Big Story: Competing roads bills now on House, Senate floors

Students from the Future Farmers of America tour the Statehouse grounds last week

A roundup of what’s making news in South Carolina state government.

The House Ways & Means Committee advanced a roads funding bill Thursday, sending it to the House floor. The move came one day after the Senate Finance Committee did the same.

But both bills seek to raise money through very different means. And neither may be able to withstand a threatened veto from Gov. Nikki Haley, who has indicated she will not support increasing gas taxes without corresponding income tax relief.

The House version that headed to the floor Thursday tries to accommodate the governor by trimming the state’s 16 cent per-gallon gas tax and shifting it to a new sales tax paid for by wholesalers. In exchange, an income tax break (averaging $48 for the average filer) would be offered to offset any higher price at the pump. Budget analysts predict the proposal would bring in an additional $400 million each year.

[Read more…]

House approves Uber bill, but company concerned about proposed regulations

UberThe ridesharing app Uber would be permanently allowed to operate across South Carolina under a bill that cleared the state House Thursday.

The bill, which passed the House of Representatives in a 96-13 vote on Wednesday, creates a new category of “transportation network companies” that would cover Uber and other similar companies. But Uber and its allies in the legislature had issues with the final draft, saying it treated the service too much like a cab company.

The state Public Service Commission is allowing Uber to operate through July after initially issuing cease-and-desist orders against the company. However, the stay is based upon lawmakers crafting new regulations that would cover the ridesharing company. Uber maintains it is not a taxi service but only uses a smartphone app to connect customers with potential drivers.

[Read more…]

South Carolina cracks down on fraud in auto sales, financing and leasing

The South Carolina Department of Consumer Affairs (SCDCA), the Federal Trade Commission, and 32 law enforcement partners release the results of

Deceptive auto ad from a Florida dealer being displayed in Columbia.  South Carolina Radio Network photo.

Federal Trade Commission assistant regional manager Chris Couillou shows an example of a deceptive auto ad from a Florida during a press conference Thursday.

“Operation Ruse Control,” a nationwide and cross-border crackdown to protect consumers when they buy a car.  The sweep encompasses 252 enforcement actions in the United States,  with SCDCA contributing 82 actions over the past year.

SCDCA Administrator Carri Grube Lybarker said most of those violations in South Carolina were due to deceptive advertising. “That resulted in us issuing four fines to some of our South Carolina auto dealers due to those violations,” Lybarker said in a Thursday press conference. She said the public is the most effective way to keep the dealers honest. “Consumer complaints are often the number way that we find out if a business is complying with the law.”

As a part of this sweep, SCDCA implemented a multi-faceted campaign to protect consumers and bring about awareness to motor vehicle dealers. In April 2014 SCDCA sent out approximately 2,500 letters to auto dealers to remind them of their responsibilities under the motor vehicle advertising laws. Between April 2014 and March 2015, SCDCA issued 78 enforcement letters addressing 105 violations of state and federal laws, ultimately resulting in four fines.

Lybarker said the state laws protecting car buyers are backed-up by federal laws. “As for the actual laws for what needs to complied with and disclosed to consumers, I think those are strong. And we have the federal laws that are incorporated into our code as well,” Lybarker said.

A “classified advertisement” placed in 111 newspapers garnering 2.5 million readers across the state encourage consumers interested in purchasing a new vehicle to take advantage of the educational resources available at SCDCA. Visit www.consumer.sc.gov and click on the CAR BUYING TIPS button to access SCDCA’s Auto Guide for Consumers. The FTC also has various resources available for consumers including, Are Car Ads Taking You for a Ride? and Buying and Owning a Car. Visit ftc.gov to access these materials.