SC political briefs : Preventing another debacle

January 24, 2013 

S.C. Senate sends ballot ‘fix’ to House

The S.C. Senate passed a bill Wednesday that supporters say will prevent another election debacle like last year’s, when 250 candidates statewide were tossed off the ballot for improperly filed paperwork.

Offered by state Sen. Larry Martin, R-Pickens, the bill would eliminate the political “death penalty” for improperly filing paperwork. Instead of being removed from the ballot, candidates who fail to file financial disclosure forms will face penalties and will not be able to take the oath of office until they do so, Martin said.

Sens. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, and Shane Massey, R-Edgefield, offered an amendment that passed Wednesday requiring candidates to file all documents except for one at the state or county election commission, depending on the office they seek. Financial disclosure forms for all candidates still must be filed online with the S.C. Ethics Commission.

The bill passed 43-0 and now goes to the House.

Sen. Gerald Malloy, D-Darlington, offered an amendment that would have allowed candidates to file all documents and pay any fees online, making it even easier for candidates, he said. That amendment failed.

Jamie Self

Somebody warn Bambi about that corn!

A bill to allow deer baiting in the Upstate zipped through the state Senate and is headed to the S.C. House.

The bill was written to close a loophole, inadvertently created in 2008, when the Legislature took over the writing of hunting rules. The phrase “and hunting deer over bait” was left out of a section that also banned placing bait out for deer in the Upstate.

Game Zones 1 and 2.

That meant hunters caught shooting deer over bait simply could say they put out the bait for wild hogs. State Natural Resources officers, reacting to a legal decision, opted not to give out baiting tickets last year. Agency officials decided it would be easier to allow baiting in Game Zones 1 and 2 – the affected area; it already is allowed in the rest of the state – than to try to get the regulation written as originally intended.

The bill passed by a 22-15 vote on Tuesday and received its final required approval Wednesday.

Joey Holleman

Board approves move to keep school buses running

A state board approved an emergency plan Wednesday designed to keep school buses in two school districts running in case unionized drivers go on strike.

The State Board of Education voted 10-0 to let a private company bring in certified drivers from other states for up to 90 days. The company, Illinois-based Durham School Services, is contracted to operate buses in Charleston County and Summerville schools.

Unionized drivers in both districts have approved going on strike if they cannot reach a deal on drivers’ pay and benefits by next week.

Superintendent Mick Zais urged passage of the plan, noting that’s all state officials can do. The Republican schools chief also urged the drivers not to strike, saying those impacted will be parents who may have no other way to get their children to school.

While South Carolina is the only state to own and maintain a statewide bus fleet, drivers are district employees. But state law allows districts to outsource their responsibilities, and Charleston County and Dorchester 2 have to Durham, which manages bus routes and employs drivers.

Durham’s drivers can strike because they work for a private company. Drivers who work directly for districts are public employees, barred from collective bargaining or striking.

An idea pushed by Gov. Nikki Haley, a Republican who never misses a chance to lambast unions in one of the least-unionized states, would result in more districts contracting for bus services, and likely more drivers unionizing.

The Associated Press

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