January 25, 2015

School fundraisers can once again sell unhealthy snacks, but only on limited basis

CandySchool fundraisers in South Carolina will now be allowed to sell foods deemed unhealthy by federal standards, but only on a limited basis.

As part of the Healthy Hunger-Free Kids Act of 2010, new federal “Smart Snack” regulations took effect in July 2014 that barred the sales of snacks on-campus with more than 200 calories or 230 milligrams of sodium. That regulation included fundraisers by school groups which are held on school property at any point from midnight until 30 minutes after classes adjourn for the day.

But many student and parent organizations were upset with the US Department of Agriculture language that effectively prevents them from selling popular snacks as fundraisers, such as bake sales or offering cookies during lunch. [Read more…]

SC Big Story: Uber hearing date set after emergency meeting

Johnny Gardner, the director of the anti-abortion group Voice of the Unborn speaks during a pro-life rally in the Statehouse on Thursday

Johnny Gardner, the director of the anti-abortion group Voice of the Unborn speaks during a pro-life rally in the Statehouse on Thursday

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

State regulators have agreed to speed up the hearing process for the ridesharing app Uber, as the controversial company applies for a certificate those same regulators say it needs.

The South Carolina Public Service Commission set the February 23 hearing date after an emergency meeting on Thursday. The commission has received pushback from Gov. Nikki Haley and state legislators after it issued a cease-and-desist order last week. The PSC said Uber must get a certificate of public convenience and necessity, which is required for any commercial motor vehicle carrier in South Carolina.

Uber is in the process of applying for a Class C license, even as it argues it is not a taxi service because it only offers a way to connect passengers with drivers. Taxi companies insist Uber gets a competitive edge by not following the same regulations as them.

Gov. Nikki Haley filed a letter with commissioners shortly after they issued the order, calling it “extremely disappointing” and a “roadblock.” Meanwhile, State Rep. Leon Stavrinakis, D-Charleston, has filed a bill in the South Carolina House of Representatives that would allow Uber to operate.

[Read more…]

SC House panel advances measure that would shorten window for abortions

State Rep. Wendy Nanney (File image: SCETV)

State Rep. Wendy Nanney (File image: SCETV)

South Carolina House lawmakers have advanced a bill that would ban abortions after 19 weeks of pregnancy.

In a unanimous vote, the House panel of four Republicans and one Democrat allowed the bill to clear its first hurdle Thursday by unanimously passing it up to the House Judiciary Committee. Similar legislation passed the House in 2014, but opponents prevented it from reaching a vote in the Senate.

Currently, South Carolina bans abortions after 23 weeks — which is when it considers a fetus to be “viable,” or potentially able to survive outside the mother’s womb. The bill’s sponsor State Rep. Wendy Nanney, R-Greenville, argues whether or not a fetus can feel pain after 19 weeks should be considered.

“As human beings, we’re not going to intentionally inflict pain on a little baby,” she told South Carolina Radio Network.

[Read more…]

Domestic violence bill, including offender gun ban, advances in SC Senate

The bill's sponsor Sen. Larry Martin said concerns about gun rights need to be weighed against South Carolina's high murder rate (Image: SCETV)

The bill’s sponsor Sen. Larry Martin said concerns about gun rights need to be weighed against South Carolina’s high murder rate (Image: SCETV)

After hours of sometimes heated debate, a state Senate committee decided to bar any individuals convicted of domestic violence from possessing guns for up to 10 years.

That language received the most debate during the Senate Judiciary Committee meeting on Wednesday. Committee members voted to advance the bill to the full Senate floor after defeating several proposed amendments that would have eased or eliminated the ban.

“We in state government have a duty to protect the most vulnerable in South Carolina, and tragically, that too often ends up being members of an abuser’s household,” committee chairman Larry Martin, R-Pickens, said in a statement. “South Carolina has been among the worst in the nation in domestic violence for far too long, and I’m hopeful the full Senate will address this bill quickly.”

The approved wording would bar gun ownership for anyone convicted on any domestic violence level. The new bill creates three degrees of domestic violence, based on the severity of the incident or assault. Current law escalates the penalties based on whether it is the first, second or third occurrence.

[Read more…]

SC Big Story: Governor covers road funding, job training, in State of the State speech

S.C. Statehouse

S.C. Statehouse

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

Governor Nikki Haley on Wednesday indicated she would no longer oppose raising the state’s gas tax, but only if it came with a much larger income tax cut and significant changes to South Carolina’s transportation agency.

Haley outlined a proposal during her State of the State address that would gradually increase the state’s gas tax by 10 cents up to 26 cents per gallon by 2019. But that would be offset by a 2 percentage point decrease in South Carolina’s income tax from 7 percent to 5 percent.

She said lawmakers must also eliminate the South Carolina Transportation Commission, the eight-member panel which must approve spending for any construction projects.

Democrats, most notably House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford, slammed the idea as “not a plan at all” and said Haley’s conditions effectively place lawmakers in a box.

The governor also introduced a new proposal that would offer jobs skills training to help employees land jobs at small businesses and medium-sized companies. The initiative, known as “Succeed SC” is patterned after the readySC program which currently offers job training programs for large corporations such as Boeing and BMW. Haley gave only a few details of how the program would work. She did say the state will pay for a prospective employee to get training for a specific skill a company needs. That employee would then repay the state trough their paycheck after getting the job.

[Read more…]