A daily review of what’s making news in South Carolina state government.
— A House panel advanced a bill Thursday that would allow anyone who can legally buy a gun to carry it openly, without needing a permit or to carry it concealed. The bill now goes to the full House Judiciary Committee. The full House passed a similar bill last year but it died in the state Senate.
Supporters say individuals have a constitutional right to carry weapons and do not need a government permit or training to be able to do it. Opponents and law enforcement groups say the measure invites criminals to carry openly. A similar measure passed the House last session, but went nowhere in the Senate.
— The full House on Thursday overwhelmingly approved legislation they touted as an “anti-Semitism” bill. However, the move was condemned by some civil rights groups as an indirect way to quell criticism of Israel. The bill approved 103-3 would require South Carolina use a 2010 U.S. State Department definition of anti-Semitism when probing suspected civil rights violations. Lead sponsor State Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Myrtle Beach, cited increasing threats being made against Jewish community centers across the country to demonstrate the need for the law.
— A former legislator who lives near the flood-wracked town of Nichols begged a Senate panel for $700,000 he said could help pull the town back from “the brink” of the disaster. The State newspaper reports Jim Battle testified before a Senate budget subcommittee Thursday, asking members to remember the Marion County community of roughly 400 people which was devastated in Hurricane Matthew’s aftermath last year. More than 200 homes remain vacant since the storm and Battle said the town has drained its reserves to help pay for cleanup.
— A state Senate panel is considering yet another type of alternative teacher certification program to encourage more people to enter the field. The “Teachers of Tomorrow” offers online certification for future teachers without education degrees in four states, although it is not as rigorous as the state’s own certification process. The Charleston Post & Courier reports a bill in the Senate Education Committee is considering the measure as a government-backed study finds teacher shortages, especially in rural areas, are getting worse.