— A candidate for public office would no longer be disqualified for improperly filing their paperwork, according to a compromise approved by a joint legislative committee Tuesday. The proposal comes a year after a state Supreme Court decision led to the removal of more than 200 candidates from ballots because they did not file a hard copy of their statements of economic interest, as the law requires.
— Meanwhile, the House voted 100-12 to let concealed weapons holders carry their weapons into bars, provided they do not drink. The bipartisan vote came after supporters argued CWP holders were law-abiding citizens who only wanted the ability to protect themselves. Opponents say alcohol and guns don’t mix. The House proposal is different from the Senate version that passed in April.
— The Senate gave its okay Tuesday to a bill that would allow teens to take more online courses for class credit. State law currently limits students to only 3 virtual credit hours per year. The measure approved 44-0 would let students take more courses not offered at their school, or retake classes they may have failed. Another procedural vote sends the bill to the governor.
— Senators voted to return to the Statehouse in two weeks for a special session. Legislators would return June 18 for up to three days under the resolution approved 39-4 on Tuesday. Another vote sends it to the House. By law, the regular session ends at 5 p.m. Thursday. But there is no budget for the fiscal year that starts July 1.The measure would only allow senators to work on the state budget and other bills that have already passed both chambers.
— Ethics reform moved one step closer to a slow, painful death this year as a prominent Democratic senator pledged to hold it up. Sen. Darrell Jackson (D-Columbia) said he was upset by a comment from Gov. Nikki Haley’s spokesman Rob Godfrey. Godfrey had made the case that the ethics case against former Sen. Robert Ford proved the need for ethics reform. Jackson argued the Ford investigation proved the current system works.
— Speaking of Ford, the state Attorney General’s Office has asked for a criminal investigation into his campaign documents. The Senate Ethics Committee had requested that the AG’s Office examine Ford’s actions after finding probable cause to support allegations that Ford improperly converted campaign money for his personal use and then misled staffers looking over his records.
— School choice supporters believe they have an opening in the proposed budget, The State newspaper reports. The Senate spending plan includes an extra $26 million to expand 4-year-old kindergarten into 17 additional low-income school districts. But House Republicans are pushing a counterproposal that would instead set aside a majority of those funds for 4-year-old kindergartens in private schools. Remaining funds would go into a voucher program.
— The State also reported on a bill currently stuck in the House that tries to address shrinking jury pools in many local magistrates’ courts. The bill passed the Senate this spring, but still remains on the House floor with just two days remaining in this year’s regular session. The bill tries to clarify magistrates’ district lines, making it clearer which jurors live in the area.
— High-profile House Democrat Rep. Bakari Sellers (D-Denmark) plans to run for lieutenant governor in 2014, The State newspaper reports, citing sources. Sellers would be considered a heavy underdog to Republican incumbent Glenn McConnell. If he were elected, Sellers would be the first African-American to hold the office since Reconstruction (and the first Democrat in nearly 20 years).
— A former Spartanburg newspaper reporter who covered the Statehouse for 22 years was honored Tuesday. Ralph Greer covered Columbia politics at the Spartanburg Herald-Journal from 1969 to 1991. Senators and representatives honored him with a resolution commemorating his years at the paper.