Legislative Update: February 24

Posted February 24, 2012 6:32 am | Filed under State/Regional News

Sen. Phil Shoopman (R-Greer) speaks to a reporter from a Spartanburg TV station Thursday

News from the state Capitol:

–The South Carolina State Election Commission says it has found no proof that anyone listed as “dead” actually voted in the 2010 election. In a letter to the state Attorney General’s Office, executive director Marci Andino said the commission tracked down the names that DMV director Kevin Shwedo said were listed as deceased and found that nearly all were due to clerical errors.

–A House committee approved next year’s budget after relatively light debate this week. It heads to the full House next week. Some of the highlights include a small raise for state employees, the hiring of 45 new SLED agents, and $30 million for local governments to repair roads.

–Meanwhile, the House rejected a bill that would have put tougher penalties on those who fraudulently claim unemployment benefits. While a majority of Republicans originally supported the idea, a late amendment caused them to jump ship. Democrats who had supported it Wednesday also changed their minds after learning about a new investigative unit it would have created.

–Governor Nikki Haley’s staff said her campaign would repay the state thousands of dollars for the security costs of out-of-state fundraising trips. The Spartanburg Herald-Journal revealed Thursday that Haley had improperly used her security staff at the fundraisers multiple times since last February.

–The Senate delayed a vote on Catherine Templeton’s appointment as director of the Department of Health & Control Thursday. Senate Republicans did not have nearly enough votes to end a filibuster by Sen. Phil Leventis (D-Sumter). Leventis said he believes Templeton, a labor attorney, does not have the background to run the agency.

–Several minor bills passed out of their respective bodies Thursday. The House passed legislation by Rep. Robert Brown (D-Hollywood) that would require the Department of Transportation to post signs along a street they plan to abandon or close… The House also sent to the Senate the “Jason Flatt Act,” which would require teachers to take two-hour suicide prevention course as part of their required 120 credit hours of training.

–The Senate sent to the House a bill by Sen. Mike Rose (R-Summerville) that would require the Department of Transportation to maintain an online registry of all the funds it spends each month… The Senate unanimously approved a bill by Sen. Joel Lourie (D-Columbia) that tries to stop recyclers from scrapping stolen cars… It also approved a bill by Sen. Glenn McConnell (R-Charleston) that changes the definition of “missing child” to include 18-year-olds. Under state law, SLED gives special emphasis to solving missing children cases.