Headlines from the SC State Capitol:
–The state Election Commission said Thursday that no candidates would be allowed on the ballot for next month’s primary unless they were certified by May 4. The commission’s statement came a day after the state Republican Party’s executive committee voted unanimously to recertify state Senate candidate Katrina Shealy. But the state commission said the party’s decision was a moot point, since the ballots have already been printed.
— The Senate sent a pension reform bill back to the House Thursday. The Senate bill scales back a retirement bill which passed the House earlier this year. Senators voted to exempt current state employees from most of the pension changes, although their proposal does ask all to contribute more towards their retirement. The Senate plan would also phase out the TERI program by 2018.
–A state senator is blocking an effort to add nine new judges to the state’s court system. Sen. Harvey Peeler (R-Gaffney) argues none of his constituents are asking for the additional judges. However, most of his peers argue South Carolina’s judicial system has a large backlog and the additional judges are badly needed. Peeler also argued that the $2.9 million currently set aside is too much to hire nine judges for two or three months.
–The political director of the Senate Democratic Caucus was reprimanded after sending out multiple tweets Wednesday night and Thursday morning that jokingly referred to Gov. Nikki Haley as “Sikh Jesus.” Phil Bailey, who frequently acts as a strategist and spokesman for the caucus, made the tweets shortly after Haley vocally supported Katrina Shealy in an effort to get Shealy back on the ballot. Bailey called Haley a “Sikh Jesus” because she “can resurrect an unlawful campaign by simply appearing at a @SCGOP hearing.” Bailey later apologized and closed his Twitter feed.