A review of what’s making news in South Carolina state government.
Any candidate seeking Senate approval for a position in President-elect Donald Trump’s administration must submit extensive financial disclosures with the Office of Government Ethics. These disclosures often reveal financial details about a public figure that they themselves may not even have known, such as when Congressman Mick Mulvaney realized earlier this week he had not paid payroll taxes on a babysitter in the early 2000s, a fact that has snagged his own nomination for the moment.
In seeking to become the next United Nations ambassador, Gov. Nikki Haley also filled out her own disclosure form. Haley’s disclosures may have surprised observers in another way — the governor reported debt that is several times higher than what she earns each year. The State newspaper first reported Haley disclosed owing between $525,004 and $1 million to creditors. Most of that was a personal mortgage of between $250,001 and $500,000, but it also includes credit card debt a line of credit taken out last year.
The governor earned roughly $203,000 last year, according to those documents. However, the only other asset she reported in addition to her state retirement accouts, was a bank account valued between $1,001 and $15,000.
First Gentleman Michael Haley had no income to report. He had served as a captain with the South Carolina National Guard, but left the service in 2015.
— A proposal that would change the way the South Carolina’s schools chief is chosen has advanced to a full state Senate committe. The legislation would make state Education Superintendent a position appointed by the governor, changing it from the statewide elected office it is now. The state is one of 13 in the country with an elected education superintendent. The proposed legislation now goes to the full Senate Judiciary Committee for consideration next week.
— A state Senate panel has advanced a proposal increasing the maximum jail time and fines for those who hurt or kill police dogs and horses. Thursday’s vote sends the measure, nicknamed “Hyco’s Law,” to the full Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee. The bill would increase the maximum prison sentence for hurting or killing police animals from 5 years to 10 and the highest fine from $5,000 to $10,000. It would also require that anyone convicted for injuring, torturing or killing a police animal must repay its restoration and replacement costs. It is named after an Anderson County Sheriff’s Department K-9 dog that was shot and killed while chasing carjacking suspects in October 2015.
— A bill that would ban drones from flying near the state’s prison and jails continues to advance in the legislature, after receiving approval from the Senate Corrections and Penology Committee on Thursday. Supportive legislators say it’s needed to stop smugglers who have flown drones over prison fences to drop contraband on the inside. The measure now goes to the Senate floor.
— In an effort to make South Carolina’s roads safer, the state Department of Transportation (SCDOT) unveiled a rural road safety program Thursday. During a state Transportation Commission meeting on Thursday, SCDOT Secretary Christy Hall presented a plan to begin a reduction in the high death toll along state roads. But the plan hinges on whether new funds become available. Hall proposed setting aside $50 million each year to improve safety features along roughly 2,000 miles of roads in the highway corridors that have the highest instances of fatal crashes.