Headlines from the South Carolina State Capitol (see Tuesday’s schedule here):
–Some legislators said they were shocked, but others said they were not surprised at all about a new report that gives South Carolina’s state government failing grades on “corruption risk.” The report by the nonpartisan State Integrity Investigation (a partnership of the Center for Public Integrity, Global Integrity, and Public Radio International) highlighted vague campaign funding laws, a lack of power for ethic investigators, and hostile responses to Freedom of Information Act requests. The report was written by Corey Hutchins of the Columbia Free Times (who first exposed the Ken Ard scandal) and was graded by peer review.
–Part of the budget passed by the South Carolina House last week includes a line that does not allow schools to use state money to buy meat treated with ammonium hydroxide. The chemical is used to kill bacteria, especially E.coli in the meat, but health advocates question the use of ammonia in food products. The finished meat product is often referred to as “pink slime.”
–The Senate will likely vote soon on legislation that would provide a boost for charter schools in South Carolina. The bill by Rep. Phil Owens (R-Easley) has already passed the House and enjoys near-unanimous support in the Senate, but senators still have some details to hammer out about how such a school can be created.
–Senate Democrats clashed with their party leadership twice Monday. First, the members of the Democratic Caucus unanimously signed a letter to state Chairman Dick Harpootlian endorsing Sen. Robert Ford (D-Charleston) in his re-election bid. Harpootlian is rumored to be supporting Ford’s primary challenger Frederick Fielding… Then, later Monday, Harpootlian criticized Sen. Darrell Jackson (D-Columbia) for endorsing Columbia Republican John Courson over his Democratic challenger.
–In other election news, Rep. Joshua Putnam (R-Piedmont) will face small business consultant Hamp Johnson for the second time in 12 months. Johnson lost to Putnam in a run-off special election last July. Both are Republicans… Meanwhile, the first GOP candidate has declared for the opening in a new district created by redistricting in the Goose Creek area. Rev. Samuel Rivers is hoping to become just the second African-American Republican in the Legislature since Reconstruction.