A daily review of what’s making news in South Carolina state government.
Legislators are at an impasse over changes in how the next election will play out.
Voters in 2012 passed a constitutional amendment requiring the governor and lieutenant governor to run on the same ticket. The change took effect for the 2018 election, but lawmakers have not yet changed the statutory law to go with it. A measure introduced last year is currently stuck after House and Senate negotiators failed to come up with a compromise.
At issue is that the House wanted a pay raise for the lieutenant governor, attorney general and other constitutional offices. However, the Senate opposed the increase. A joint conference committee which was to hammer out the differences was canceled Thursday.
Election officials say a solution needs to happen soon, especially since current law requires the lieutenant governor file in March for a separate election. “The more time that passes, the less time we have to make the changes,” State Election Commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said. “It doesn’t reduce the amount of work to be done. It doesn’t reduce the amount of testing we would need to do (on the filing system) to have it ready in time.”
Whitmire said he expects legislators to reach a deal, since both the House and Senate agree with the overall change and are hung up on salaries.
— Gov. Henry McMaster on Thursday ordered South Carolina’s Medicaid agency to seek a federal waiver that would allow it to create new work requirements on certain adults who receive the assistance. The Governor’s Office announced the effort on the same day the Trump administration announced it would make it easier for states to implement the requirements for able-bodied, working-age adults. The requirements, if approved, would only impact a small percentage of those receiving Medicaid coverage in South Carolina.
— In an appearance before the regulators who would need to approve their $14.6 billion deal, Dominion Energy and SCANA said the lack of a merger could threaten SCANA’s ability to remain solvent. Dominion CEO Tom Farrell told the Public Service Commission that the deal would hinge on Dominion being able to continue charging ratepayers to pay back massive debt on an ill-fated nuclear project. The commission will decide on the merger at a later date.
— A House panel is recommending more treatment options, tighter prescription limits and better education for doctors and counselors in its recommendations for dealing with a worsening opioids overdose crisis. The House Opioid Abuse Prevention Study Committee made its report public this week. Its 39 recommendations ranged from making opioid education mandatory in college for health professionals to encouraging more treatment clinics across the state.
— A House judiciary subcommittee advanced legislation Thursday panel that increases penalties against people who injure or kill police dogs. The proposal would raise the maximum penalty to 10 years in prison and/or a $10,000 fine. The bill is known as “Hyco’s Law” after an Anderson County K9 shot and killed while attempting to stop a suspect. The full House Judiciary Committee will take up the proposal next week.
— State Treasurer Curtis Loftis is raising his national profile with a new leadership role. Loftis was chosen as the 2018 Southern Vice President of the National Association of State Treasurers. His office indicated that he is also an executive board member for the College Savings Plans Network. He started in both roles last week.