A daily review of what’s making news in South Carolina state government.
Jasper County will dedicate its government building to a state senator who was killed when a gunman attacked a Bible study at his church.
The county government building will be dedicated and renamed to honor State Sen. Clementa Pinckney on Friday. Pinckney was killed with eight other black parishioners when a white supremacist opened fire Emanuel AME Church in June 2015. While the church itself is in Charleston, Pinckney hailed from and represented Jasper County in the state Senate for 14 years.
U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn and Pinckney’s widow Jennifer will be guest speakers for the 2 p.m. event at 358 Third Avenue in Ridgeland. The public is invited to attend.
— Members of the House budgetwriting committee advanced their plan for state spending next year to the House floor on Thursday. The State newspaper reports the plan includes $100 million to spend on buildings in the 39 poor, rural districts that sued the state for lack of financial support. Lawmakers are trying to respond to a 2014 state Supreme Court ruling that found the South Carolina was failing to meet minimum standards for educating students in those districts. The $100 million is intended to go towards new buildings or renovations in those districts.
— Also included in the House budget was $5 million annually for a new adult burn unit at the Medical University of South Carolina. The school has a child burn unit, but any adult patients must be transported to a unit in Augusta, Ga. The Charleston Post & Courier reports the burn unit would become the first of its kind in South Carolina since 2002, when MUSC closed the state’s only program. The full House and Senate must approve the proposal for it to happen.
— In response to a massive wildfire that burned more than 11,000 acres across the South Carolina mountains last year, legislators are giving the state more authority to ban campfires during risky weather conditions. The House on Thursday approved a proposal 94-6 that would move campfires under the State Forester’s purview when he declares an outdoor burning ban. Under current law, such temporary bans cover yard debris, trash burns, or fires set for agricultural purposes, but not recreational burns like campfires or bonfires. The measure will head to the Senate next week.
— The House this week also passed another measure this week that would ban animal owners from tattooing their pets. Many legislators said they were stunned to learn the practice even exists, but supporters of a ban call it animal cruelty. However, the Anderson Independent-Mail notes about half of the 12 “no” votes against a ban were from the Upstate. One legislator told the paper he felt the ban is a “useless law” that would have little actual impact. The measure now heads to the Senate.
— Inmates who purposely expose themselves to correctional officers could face additional jail time under a proposal advancing through the state Senate. The bill requires inmates who intentionally expose themselves to officers or staff be charged with a misdemeanor and face up to an additional year in prison. The bill’s lead sponsor says inmates will frequently try to “humiliate” female officers. A Senate corrections panel added tougher penalties, including three additional years for a second offense and five years for a third.
— A Senate subcommittee unanimously moved along a bill Thursday that would make it easier to enforce the state’s law against illegally passing a stopped school bus. Under current law, the state can mail a ticket to a driver who is caught on a bus camera driving past the bus while it drops off or picks up children, but only if the driver is identifiable in photos or video. Under this bill, the state Department of Public Safety could mail a civil citation to the registered owner of the vehicle without having to identify the driver. The driver could challenge the ticket, but must provide the name and address of who was driving that day.