–The state Supreme Court sided with Florence County Democrats Tuesday, ruling their Republican counterparts improperly certified several candidates who did not correctly file their election paperwork. The Court had harsh words for the Florence County GOP, accusing it of including candidates party officials knew were ineligible. Justices required the party to pay the costs for new ballots.
–Meanwhile, the House Ethics Committee voted to refund the fines put on those candidates who did not file their financial paperwork on time. Committee members said they felt it was unfair to assess the fines after the Supreme Court booted those candidates from next week’s primary ballot. A few candidates have already paid the fines, although committee chairman Rep. Roland Smith (R-Aiken) did not know the exact number.
–The Supreme Court also heard arguments on a dredging dispute that has pitted one branch of state government against the other for the past six months. Justices will consider whether to invalidate a water quality permit granted by the state’s environmental agency for the Savannah harbor dredging. Environmental groups claim the permit required approval from a special commission created by the state legislature five years ago to represent South Carolina’s interests on the Savannah River.
–House leaders were furious with their Senate counterparts after they were forced to delay negotiations on a pension reform proposal. Senators pushed Tuesday’s conference committee meeting back a day as they instead spent the time honoring their colleagues who are retiring after this year. House leaders noted that the regular session ends Thursday, but senators say there is still plenty of time.
–Part of the state budget for next year would authorize the Treasurer’s Office to join a multi-state audit of several insurance companies. The issue is over unclaimed property that those companies have on their books. Most of the property is in life insurance policies where the heirs could not be found. Under South Carolina law, the state is supposed to handle any unclaimed funds.
–As this is the final week of the General Assembly’s regular session, dozens of bills are bouncing from House to Senate as supporters try to pass them out before Thursday evening. Some bills passed Tuesday that now head for the governor’s desk include:
A bill that would allow state circuit courts to accept electronically-filed documents.
Another that would require the state Department of Transportation to maintain a list of its transactions and post that list online.
Legislation that would dramatically increase the fines on those who illegally cut timber on private land.
And “Right-to-Work” legislation Governor Nikki Haley championed earlier this year. Among other things, the bill requires labor unions to file the same financial documents with the state that it gives the U.S. Department of Labor.
–And it appears the newest state legislator will be Myrtle Beach’s Heather Crawford. Crawford won the GOP primary for the open House District 68 seat Tuesday. She is the only person on the ballot for the general election in two weeks. However, due to unusual circumstances (for the next five months, she would replace former Rep. Thad Viers after Viers resigned to face felony harassment charges), Crawford will not actually serve in the Statehouse unless she wins “re-election” again in November.