— Senators gave preliminary approval to a cyber security bill that’s in response to last year’s hacking at the state Department of Revenue. The legislation seeks to offer up to 10 years of free credit monitoring for 3.8 million taxpayers whose personal information was compromised in the hack. It also tries to put new security measures in place to prevent another attack from happening again. The bill requires another vote next week before it heads to the House.
— Shortly after the Senate passed legislation offering more than $120 million in incentives for Boeing to expand its North Charleston facility, the House decided to fast-track the bill. The bill was unanimously voted to be placed on the calendar “without reference,” meaning it will not go through any hearings or subcommittees. That means the bill could become law possibly within 9 days of being introduced— a speed unheard of in the legislature. House Speaker Bobby Harrell said the $120 million bond must be approved as quickly as possible because the state made a commitment to Boeing so long as the company met its hiring goals.
— The latest in the ongoing power struggle between state pension officials and Treasurer Curtis Loftis appears headed for court. Both Loftis and members of the state’s Retirement Investment Commission have accused each other of bad intentions in the nearly three-year spat. This latest legal battle deals with Loftis’s refusal to authorize a $50 million investment unless his fellow commissioners provide him with a specific legal document. Other commissioners say Loftis is not supposed to have access to that document and is performing “malfeasance” by refusing to authorize the investment.
— A task force appointed by Gov. Nikki Haley that is responsible for improving the state’s regulation environment held its first meeting Thursday. Chairman Mark Lutz said the task force’s goal is to streamline regulations, not eliminate them. The state’s 16 cabinet agencies have until May 15 to send their suggestions to the task force. A final report is due to Haley and lawmakers by Nov. 15.
— A House panel advanced legislation that tries to cut bureaucracy for hospitals in South Carolina. Specifically, the bill targets “Certificates of Need,” which are required from the state’s public health agency whenever new equipment or new facilities are acquired or built. Such permits often take months to get. However, Department of Health & Environmental Control director Catherine Templeton says she’d like to eliminate the need for state permission if the new equipment has already received federal approval.
— Another House panel delayed a decision on a bill that would make some types of “cyber bullying” a crime. The proposal outlaws several ways children can be harassed on online. The subcommittee discussing the bill ran out of time Thursday morning. Some legislators were also concerned that language which could put school bullies in jail was not appropriate.