— A proposal that would have given tax breaks to parents of home-schooled and private-school students was defeated in the state Senate Wednesday. The proposal was presented as an amendment to next year’s budget. After nearly three hours of debate, the Senate voted 23-18 to reject the proposal, which supporters have pushed for several years without success. They say it would help low-income families afford private school. Opponents say it would take money away from public education.
— Senators did vote to create a $200,000 fund that would reimburse any victims who lost money to the massive hacking at the SC Department of Revenue last year. The state Treasurer’s Office would manage the fund under the amendment sponsored by state Sens. Kevin Bryant (R-Anderson) and Vincent Sheheen (D-Kershaw). State law enforcement officials won’t say if anyone has lost money from the hacking so far.
— A Senate panel passed a resolution that would avoid a government shutdown if the General Assembly fails to pass the budget by July 1. The Senate Finance Committee sent the continuing resolution to the floor Wednesday. The Senate is in its second week of debating a $6.3 billion spending plan for state taxes. There are concerns that senators and representatives will not reach an agreement before the fiscal year ends on June 30 (this happened last year).
— Whenever they do pass the budget, senators will have little time for anything else— including an attempt to better fund repairs for roads and bridges. The fight is whether the state should use higher-than-expected revenue to cover repairs this year… or take advantage of new revenue through higher fees and a slight increase in the state’s gas tax.
— A House judiciary subcommittee advanced legislation that would allow concealed weapons permit holders to carry their guns into bars and restaurants that serve alcohol— so long as they do not drink. The House panel removed language which passed the Senate that banned guns in bars after midnight and in areas dedicated to serving alcohol. Those restrictions had been added last month as a compromise.
— Members of the House Ways & Means Committee on Wednesday continued discussing a bill that would address identity theft protection and change South Carolina’s computer security network. Most of the debate on Wednesday was over who would appoint the leader of a new state agency overseeing information technology. Legislators were also concerned over the cost of continuing to offer free credit monitoring for five more years.
— An attorney representing embattled Sen. Robert Ford (D-Charleston) is seeking the dismissal of an ethics investigation against him. Attorney William Runyon argued that Ford did not realize he was under investigation when Ethics Committee attorneys were alerting him to mistakes on his forms. The Ethics Committee last month said it found probable cause to support accusations against Ford, but it has not made the specifics in the case public.
— A group of legislators traveled to Raleigh to take on their North Carolina counterparts in a charity basketball game. It didn’t go well for the Sandlappers, as they fell to the Tar Heels 35-27. The North Carolina General Assembly holds an 11-6 lead in the on-again, off-again series, which was last played in 2009. The South Carolina squad was hobbled when coach and point guard Rep. Ronnie Sabb (D-Kingstree) injured his ankle early in the game.