Headlines from the South Carolina State Capitol (Click here for a schedule of Wednesday’s meetings):
–A House subcommittee advanced several parts of the GOP tax reform package Tuesday. Those include reducing the manufacturing and commercial property tax rates and collapsing six income tax brackets into three. Democrats worry the property tax cuts will cause local governments to increase taxes on homeowners.
–Another House subcommittee delayed a vote on the possible privatization of school buses. Lawmakers are looking to spin off the state-run school bus system for local school districts to run instead. Members wanted more time to work out how districts would take control of bus systems.
–The House passed on to the Senate a bill that would allow prosecutors to seek reduced sentences for defendants who work with investigators to prosecute other criminals. Specifically, the bill by Rep. Bruce Bannister (R-Greenville) would allow a cooperative defendant to be sentenced below the minimum punishment required by state law.
–On a similar note, the Senate sent to the House a bill by Sen. Ralph Anderson (D-Greenville) that would allow a wrongfully-imprisoned inmate to be compensated for the monetary value of time lost while in prison. It also creates the “Wrongful Conviction Compensation Fund.”
–Speaking of Sen. Anderson, the Democrat announced Tuesday that he would not seek re-election this year. Anderson, 84, said his wife’s ailing health was a big reason for his decision. He has represented Greenville in the Senate since 1991. Prior to that, he served in the House for five years.
–The Senate Judiciary Committee passed a bill that closes a loophole in gaming laws that law enforcement officials say allow for backdoor video poker illegal under current law. However, Sen. Robert Ford (D-Charleston) placed an opposing “minority report” on the bill, making it unlikely to pass this year. Ford is in favor of ending the video poker ban.
–In excerpts from Gov. Nikki Haley’s new book obtained by the national website Politico, the governor laments the “blood sport” nature of South Carolina politics. “Can’t Is Not an Option” is scheduled to be released April 3. In the excerpts, Haley gives her perspective of two affair allegations that surfaced in the days before the GOP primary in 2010.
–Democrats pushed GOP leaders to adopt several new ethics reforms in response to a national report that gave South Carolina a failing grade on corruption risk in state government. Reps. Boyd Brown (D-Winnsboro), James Smith (D-Columbia), and Leon Stavrinakis (D-Charleston) highlighted bills they’ve sponsored that would set term limits, give voters the power to recall elected officials, and give the Ethics Commission oversight over legislators.