Headlines from the SC State Capitol:
–The state Supreme Court on Thursday refused to reconsider its Wednesday decision that could remove hundreds of candidates’ names from next month’s ballots. The court ruled that state law was clear: candidates who did not file their financial paperwork before a March 30 deadline could not appear on their party’s ballot. The Senate spent nearly two hours debating the next course of action.
–Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee made major changes to a House pension reform bill. The proposal that unanimously passed a Senate subcommittee Thursday would allow government employees to set aside more money to calculate pension benefits. But they would be expected to contribute more and work longer. The Teachers Employment Retirement Incentive program (TERI) would also be eliminated in 2018.
–The House approved a bill that tries to crack down on scrap yards that buy stolen cars. The Senate originally passed the legislation in February. The Senate would have to approve the House’s minor changes before the bill can head to the governor for her approval. Among other things, the new law would not allow a recycler to demolish a car less than 15 years old without its title. It also creates a 15-day waiting period for older cars with no title.
–Governor Nikki Haley has won a federal appeal in a lawsuit over her anti-union remarks. A federal appeals court on Thursday agreed with a state judge who dismissed the case filed by the machinists union in August. The union sued Haley and Catherine Templeton, who was director of the state’s labor agency at the time. After several high-profile anti-union comments by Hales, the unions wanted the judge to order her to remain neutral in labor issues.
–A Senate subcommittee scaled down a House bill that would allow landowners to hunt non-native hogs, coyotes, and armadillos on their property at night. Senators decided to require the would-be hunters to notify the state Department of Natural Resources of their plans in advance. DNR officials said they will inevitably get an increase in calls about night firing and would not have to respond to each call if they get advance warning.
–University of South Carolina President Harris Pastides visited a Senate subcommittee Wednesday and urged lawmakers to come up with a new higher education funding formula that is based on schools meeting academic and financial criteria.