SC political briefs

January 16, 2013 

S.C. Senate gives key approval to sweepstakes ban

The state Senate has given key approval to a law clarifying that sweepstakes machines are illegal.

State law enforcement officials say the machines are illegal and have been seizing them. But some judges have been throwing the cases out because of a provision in state law allowing stores that sell alcohol to offer sweepstakes. The bill would close that loophole.

Sweepstakes machines sell products, such as long-distance phone cards, and offer customers a chance to win prizes. Supporters say they simply are games for people to play. Critics call them gambling, comparing them with the video-poker industry the state outlawed a decade ago.

Adam Beam

Election Commission: ‘90 percent’ of voter ID notices undeliverable

The State Election Commission has mailed notices to the 205,000 registered voters who do not have photo IDs, but nearly 90 percent of those notices have been returned undeliverable.

That’s what commission executive director Marci Andino told a House budget subcommittee Tuesday about her efforts to enact the state’s controversial voter ID law, which went into effect Jan. 1.

The law requires registered voters to show a photo ID before casting their ballots. The U.S. attorney general blocked the law’s implementation only to be overruled by a three-judge federal panel in October. The judges ruled the law did not disenfranchise voters because voters do not have to comply with it if they have a “reasonable impediment” to obtaining a photo ID.

“They said to the courts that they would have an aggressive outreach campaign to identify and inform these voters, and I didn’t hear that this morning,” said state Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg.

Adam Beam

S.C. seeking to recoup $53,000 from $3.5 million cost of voter ID lawsuit

S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson hopes to recoup $53,980.05 of the state’s $3.5 million cost to sue the federal government over the implementation of South Carolina’s voter ID law.

Earlier this month, a federal court ruled South Carolina was the “prevailing party” in that lawsuit and could force the federal government to cover some of its expenses.

However, the vast majority of South Carolina’s expenses were attorney’s fees, which the state cannot recoup. Most of that money – $3.4 million – went to Bancroft LLC, the Washington, D.C.,-based law firm of Paul D. Clement, solicitor general under then-President George W. Bush and the state’s lead attorney for the lawsuit. S.C. attorney Chris Coates collected $147,578.78 while $10,880 went to S.C. attorney Butch Bowers.

Adam Beam

S.C. observes National Human Trafficking Awareness month

South Carolina is observing National Human Trafficking Awareness month in January, officials said Tuesday at a State House news conference.

Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, read a proclamation from Gov. Nikki Haley announcing the state’s participation in the national observation.

S.C. Attorney General Alan Wilson lauded lawmakers for passing a bill last year aimed at fighting human trafficking. Wilson has created a task force to research the problem and make legislative recommendations.

The number of incidents of human trafficking in the state is “elusive,” making the scope of the problem difficult to know, said Tricia Ravenhorst with the S.C. Victim’s Assistance Network.

Ravenhorst said sometimes victims are lured to the state with promise of a job and arrive to find themselves in a trafficking situation. Ravenhorst said she has seen victims trafficked for sex, labor or even work in the food-and-beverage industry.

Jamie Self

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