Headlines from the SC State Capitol:
–The first effort to return more than 180 candidates to next month’s primary ballot failed in the South Carolina state Senate Tuesday after two senators blocked a bill intended to fix the problem. Last Wednesday, the state Supreme Court ruled those candidates who had not filled out required financial paperwork at the same time they registered to run could not be on the ballot. Tuesday’s proposal would have set aside May 18 as a temporary re-filing date. Supporters pledged to try again on the Senate floor Wednesday.
–However, it was what happened after the meeting that got much of the media’s attention, when U.S. Congressman Joe Wilson’s wife Roxanne confronted Sen. Jake Knotts (R-Lexington) for blocking the bill. Mrs. Wilson’s sister Suzanne Moore is one of the candidates not allowed to appear on the Lexington Clerk of Court’s ballot next month. After shouting angrily at Knotts, Wilson eventually followed him into his office, but the pair emerged after a few minutes with Wilson saying “We made peace.”
–Meanwhile, the Senate Finance Committee continued its efforts crafting a budget. Senators learned Tuesday they will have an additional $292 million more in revenue than expected. The state’s Board of Economic Advisors certified the recurring and one-time funds, saying the growth was due to more people holding jobs and fewer tax refunds given this year.
–The House voted to toughen the state’s laws dealing with copper sales. An amendment approved Tuesday would, among other things, require a metal recycler or scrap yard to only use checks when paying for copper. While similar language was included in a law passed last year, legislators complained some businesses were getting the requirement by either cashing the check on the spot or putting the payment on an ATM card. Supporters are trying to cut down on thieves who sell copper stolen from air conditioning units and catalytic converters.
–Lawmakers sent to the governor a bill that would renew a tax credit for plug-in hybrids. The $667 credit would run through 2017. The credit, which began in 2007, would have expired this year had the Legislature not acted. The House passed the bill last week by a 53-48 vote. Opponents said the government should not try to influence how people buy cars. Gov. Nikki Haley has not indicated if she will sign the bill, although she did help override a 2007 veto that created the credits.
–A panel which represents South Carolina’s interests on the Savannah River voted to limit the river’s dredging to 45 feet, instead of the 47 feet that Georgia Ports officials want and is recommended by the Army Corps of Engineers. Members of the Savannah River Maritime Commission said they were concerned about the environmental affect the additional two feet would have. However, the final decision will likely end up in court.