Senate panel attempts to fix election debacle
The Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a bill that would fine candidates if they fail to file the proper paperwork.
Now, candidates who do not file paperwork properly are removed from the ballot. Last year, more than 250 candidates were removed because of paperwork issues.
The bill also requires incumbents and challengers to file the same paperwork at the same time. Currently, they have different deadlines.
Lee Bright, R-Spartanburg, was the only senator to vote against the bill.
Orangeburg Democrat blocks sweepstakes bill
The Senate Judiciary Committee approved a bill Tuesday that would outlaw sweepstakes machines in establishments that sell alcohol, but state Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, is blocking the bill.
SLED Chief Mark Keel says the sweepstakes machines are illegal, comparing them to illegal video-poker machines. But some local magistrates have ruled the machines are legal in places that sell alcohol, citing state law.
The proposed law would close that loophole. Hutto urged the committee to spend more time discussing the bill before passing it. By blocking the bill, Hutto ensured the bill will not come up for debate on the Senate floor.
Columbia representative elected leader of House Democrats
State Rep. Todd Rutherford has been elected leader of South Carolina’s House Democrats.
The Columbia Democrat replaces state Rep. Harry Ott as House minority leader. Ott did not seek re-election to the post.
Rutherford was elected by a 33-12 vote Tuesday over state Rep. Ted Vick of Chesterfield. The vote was held behind closed doors.
Earlier Tuesday, Republicans unanimously re-elected Harvey Peeler of Gaffney as Senate majority leader in a meeting open to the public.
Rutherford’s election means that three legislative leaders and South Carolina’s governor, Nikki Haley of Lexington, are from the Midlands. The other Midlands legislative leaders are Senate President Pro Tem John Courson, R-Richland, and Senate Minority Leader Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington.
Retirement fund earns 11.5% in 2012
The state retirement fund — which pays the pensions of state workers, local government employees, teachers and police officers — earned investment returns of 11.5 percent in 2012, according to the S.C. Retirement Investment Commission.
The earnings added about $2.8 billion to the fund. Those earnings include only estimates for December, but the retirement fund’s chief investment officer, Hershel Harper, said he expects only “minimal deviation.”
The retirement fund has fluctuated greatly recent years. From July 1, 2011, to June 30, 2012, the fund made a small profit on investments but not enough to cover its expenses. It lost about $1 billion in value during that period.
Rally asks to ‘Nullify Obamacare’ in state
Several hundred people rallied Tuesday at the State House in support of a bill that would declare unconstitutional the new health-care law supported by President Barack Obama. Stickers with “Nullify Obamacare” were passed out at the rally.
The bill, which has about a dozen sponsors, would overturn the health-care law, upheld last year by the U.S. Supreme Court. The proposal also would find guilty of a felony — subject to five years in prison — any agent or employee of the federal government who tries to uphold the health-care law.
State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, spoke in favor of the bill, saying the Founding Fathers would expect the people to speak out forcefully against expanding federal government.
Adam Beam and
The Associated Press contributed to this report