— As part of that budget process, House Democrats are continuing their push for South Carolina to expand the number of citizens who are eligible for Medicaid coverage. But the state’s Republican leaders have refused, saying the cost would be too great. So Democrats are trying from a new angle. House Democrats hope to add language to next year’s budget that would give South Carolina the option to apply for expanded Medicaid coverage over the next three years, when the federal government would cover the vast majority of the cost.
— Unhappy with recent changes made by the state’s unemployment agency, legislators in the House voted to redirect roughly $1.5 million towards rural job help centers. Department of Employment and Workforce officials angered many lawmakers earlier this year when the agency announced it would no longer offer in-person help at 17 rural unemployment offices. In response, the House took funds from “administration.” Rep. Ted Vick (D-Chesterfield) said he will propose a second amendment on Tuesday that would order the agency to use the money to re-launch its face-to-face help with jobless benefits.
— While the budget as written now would only provide pay raises to prison guards, some other state employees will almost certainly receive them outside the budgeting process, the AP reports. Nearly 3,800 employees in South Carolina’s largest agencies received an increase in pay between August 1 and February 5, according to Budget & Control Board data. Most of the raises were due to promotions, additional responsibilities, and agency reshuffling.
— The state’s archivist is warning that proposed changes to South Carolina’s open records law could cost his agency over $1 million, The State newspaper reports. South Carolina Department of Archives and History director Eric Emerson, whose agency stores state records, says it could cost $1 million to keep detailed records of the legislature. Lawmakers on the House Judiciary Committee voted two weeks ago to end an exemption that representatives and senators currently have from public document requests. The proposed bill is currently on the House floor.
— A House panel has advanced a measure that would officially legalize charity raffles in South Carolina. The state’s constitution technically outlaws all games of chance. A House Judiciary subcommittee gave its okay to a proposed referendum that would ask voters in 2014 if they wish the constitution to be changed to allow nonprofit raffles for fundraising purposes. The bill easily passed the Senate after stalling in previous years due to concerns that the language could lead to other forms of gambling. It now heads to the full committee.
— Under fire from state legislators and members of the general public, the group of school administrators who make up the membership of the South Carolina High School League voted to make some changes. Schools hope their actions will satisfy lawmakers who were willing to replace the independent league with a state-run entity if those changes were not approved. The biggest changes would create a new tiered system of penalties for schools that violate league rules and a new panel that can hear appeals of those penalties.
— The state’s public health agency is now required to ensure any rising 7th-graders are up-to-date with a “whooping cough” vaccine, the Florence Morning News reports. New Department of Health and Environmental Control standards require the students to have gotten a “Tdap” vaccine since their seventh birthday. The agency is trying to expand the number of children vaccinated against whooping cough, also known as pertussis. A 2011 survey found South Carolina had one of the lowest Tdap vaccination rates in the country.
— A new law that took effect two weeks ago will allow the night hunting of several species considered to be invasive pests. Lawmakers voted last year to allow the night hunts on wild hogs, coyotes, and armadillos from late February to July 1. The law also allows for the use of bait, electronic calls, and night-vision devices.