SC political briefs, August 22

August 21, 2013 

12 mayors endorse Sheheen for governor

Twelve S.C. mayors have endorsed Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen of Camden for governor in 2014, according to Sheheen’s campaign.

The mayors include longtime Charleston Mayor Joe Riley and Joseph McElveen, the mayor of Sumter and father of Democratic state Sen. Thomas McElveen. Others include the mayors of Greenwood, Spartanburg, Florence, Cheraw, Chesterfield, Heath Springs, Rock Hill, Kershaw, Lake City and Camden, Sheheen’s hometown.

So far, Sheheen is the only announced Democratic candidate for governor. Republican Nikki Haley, who defeated Sheheen in 2010, is scheduled to formally announce her re-election plans Monday in Greenville, where she will be joined by fellow Republican Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin, Bobby Jindal of Louisiana and Rick Perry of Texas.

Adam Beam

Judge dismisses Greenville GOP lawsuit to close primary elections

A federal judge has dismissed a lawsuit by the Greenville County Republican Party seeking to close South Carolina’s Republican primary elections.

The judge ruled the Greenville party did not have standing to bring the lawsuit, according to a news release from IndependentVoting.org, an association of independent voters that intervened in the lawsuit.

Anyone can vote in South Carolina’s primary elections without declaring a party affiliation. The lawsuit by Greenville Republicans sought to close the primaries, allowing only voters who identified themselves as members of the party holding the primary to cast ballots.

Adam Beam

State agencies prepare to roll out first school choice program

The S.C. Revenue Department and education leaders told a Senate panel Wednesday they are working on a smooth transition for the state’s first K-12 private-school choice program.

Twelve private schools currently are cleared to participate in the program. The S.C. Education Oversight Committee is working on a way to approve more schools quickly before Jan. 1, when the program launches.

Through the program, taxpayers can claim tax credits on their 2014 tax returns for donations made starting Jan. 1 to nonprofit organizations that provide private-school grants to students with disabilities. The grants will be for $10,000 or the cost of tuition, whichever is lower.

Taxpayers can use the credits to reduce up to 60 percent of their tax bill. The state will provide up to $8 million in tax credits, available for donations made through June 30, 2014, unless lawmakers extend the program.

Three organizations plan on receiving donations and offering grants. Currently, 12 schools are eligible to enroll students who receive grants. But more school are taking steps to participate, Oversight Committee chairwoman Melanie Barton told the Senate panel.

Barton said she is drafting an agreement that private-school associations can sign saying their member schools meet all requirements – including non-discrimination – to participate.

Jamie Self

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