— A measure that would require courts to share mental health information with the federal government in order to prevent illegal gun purchases is now headed to the governor’s desk. Legislators began discussing ways to address gun safety and mental illness after the February arrest of Alice Boland. Authorities say the woman was not supposed to own a gun, yet nearly killed several administrators at a private Charleston girls’ school earlier this year. Mothers whose children were enrolled in the school played a critical role in the bill’s passage.
— The Senate Finance Committee refused to expand Medicaid eligibility for poorer South Carolinians, the second time that legislative Republicans have blocked their Democratic peers’ efforts to insert the expansion in the budget. A 13-10 vote Thursday came as the committee debated its budget proposal for 2013-14. The House rejected a similar attempt earlier this year. Gov. Nikki Haley and other Republicans say expansion will cost the state too much in the long-term.
— The House passed a bill that declares the Affordable Care Act (better known by opponents as “Obamacare”) to be “null and void.” The bill was sent to the Senate in a party-line 65-39 vote Wednesday. It would prohibit certain individuals from enforcing “such unconstitutional laws.” Opponents of the bill note that the Supreme Court has upheld the law’s constitutionality and say they worry the South Carolina bill is a modern form of nullification.
— Gov. Nikki Haley announced Thursday that she has nominated an employment attorney to be the next director of South Carolina’s unemployment agency. Cheryl Stanton comes to the South Carolina Department of Employment & Workforce (SCDEW) from a prominent New York law firm and is also a former White House aide for President George W. Bush. She replaces previous SCDEW director Abraham Turner, who resigned in March.
— Saying it is needed to repair the state’s aging roads and bridges, the Senate Finance Committee advanced a major proposal Thursday that would increase multiple vehicle fees and effectively raise the state’s gas tax by tying it to inflation. A 13-5 vote sent the package to the Senate floor, where the real debate will start. Senators on the panel that crafted the proposal urged their colleagues to withhold judgment, saying they had tried their best to make a plan that was sellable to the public.
— The Senate Ethics Committee accused longtime Sen. Robert Ford (D-Charleston) of intentionally altering his campaign documents to mislead the committee investigating him. The accusation came as the legislative panel reviewed his campaign records. The new charges comes two weeks after the committee sais it found probable cause into allegations that Ford committed multiple ethics violations over the last four years.
— Gov. Haley met with education leaders from around the state Thursday as part of continued discussions on school funding reform, The State newspaper reports. Haley spokesman Rob Godfrey said the governor met with more than 30 superintendents and other administrators in Columbia. He said Haley’s administration hopes to have a plan by year’s end that will replace the current, decades-old formula used by the legislature. Other lawmakers agree some kind of change is needed, but disagree how that should be accomplished.
— The State also revealed that Haley spent last weekend at a California conference hosted by the conservative industrialists David and Charles Koch. The Koch brothers are well-known in political circles for their support of more right-leaning politicians and causes. The New York Times reports the meeting was about ways the GOP could capture more support in the 2014 election. The governor is expected to be one of many Republicans running for re-election that year, although she has not officially declared.
— The front steps of the Statehouse played host to a local commemoration of the 63rd annual National Day of Prayer. Religious leaders and about a hundred others gathered for the event. The National Day of Prayer is held yearly on the first Thursday of May.