MORNING BUZZ: Ice, ice baby -- SC prepares as winter returns with a vengeance

Posted by ANDREW SHAIN and JAMIE SELF on February 10, 2014 

S.C. Emergency Management Division officials call county officials Monday in preparing for the latest winter storm in a photo the agency posted on social media.

— Some might argue that South Carolina declared a state of emergency Monday when Jim Cantore arrived in state.

But The Weather Channel meteorologist does not declare them officially. Gov. Nikki Haley does, and expect her to announce a state of emergency as a mix of snow, sleet and ice swoops across South Carolina starting today.

The declaration would put the S.C. National Guard on active duty and set up a state emergency operations center.

The S.C. Emergency Management Division can coordinate help for local and county governments from the operations center. The National Guard can provide manpower and vehicles, including wreckers. Haley’s executive order also would trigger state anti-price gouging laws.

Look for more news below on the storm that is expected to cause more damage than the snow from two week ago.

Senate cancels session this week

The state Senate called off this week's session with the impending winter storm, Senate President Pro Tempore John Courson said. The decision was made after Courson spoke with other senate leaders. The S.C. House of Representatives is on furlough this week, though one budget meeting, the so-called subcommittees on subcommittees, will meet at 10 a.m. today. The General Assembly canceled sessions during the storm two weeks ago. Will state lawmakers have to consider a resolution on what to do about make-up days for themselves, too?

One last shot before the storm

In what will be probably one of the last acts in the State House before the wintry mix shuts down state government, Gov. Nikki Haley will sign the bill today that allows concealed weapons permit holders to carry their guns into places the serve booze. Haley, a permit holder herself, would sign "any bill that doesn’t restrict the rights of gun owners," her office has said. The signing ceremony is slated for 10:30 a.m. in the State House first floor lobby.

Top Clicks

And the nominees for the new SC ethics commissioner are ... : A high-ranking ethics attorney for the Navy, a retired SLED investigator and one of the lead prosecutors of the infamous Operation Lost Trust sting from the early 1990s are among Republican Gov. Nikki Haley’s eight nominations to the State Ethics Commission. Haley’s appointments, if confirmed, would bring stability to the Ethics Commission, where four of the nine seats are vacant and the terms of the other five commissioners all have expired. Full story

Doubts about Darwin hold up new SC ed standards: A state senator’s skepticism about Charles Darwin’s evolutionary theory held up the full adoption of South Carolina’s K-12 standards for what students learn in science class. State Sen. Mike Fair, R-Greenville, objected to the proposed revision of the evolution standard, which asked students to “analyze and interpret data, using the principles of natural selection, to make predictions about the long term biological changes that may occur within two populations of the same species that become geographically isolated from one another.” Full story

Better together or better apart?: About 100 College of Charleston faculty members met Monday to share their opposition to an S.C. House bill that would merge the state’s third-largest school and the Medical University of South Carolina. The professors want both colleges in the Holy City to complete their searches for new presidents and move more deliberately on collaborating before lawmakers combine the schools, said Simon Lewis, a College of Charleston English professor who helped organize the gathering. Full story

Same-sex married couples cannot file SC taxes jointly

S.C. Department of Revenue has ruled same-sex couples who are legally married in another state must filed state returns separately. The IRS allows married gay couples to file jointly, but South Carolina has a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. For tax purposes, South Carolina will not recognize couples wed in the 16 states and District of Columbia that have legalized gay marriage. A bill was introduced in the S.C. House to allow equal treatment of legally married couples in filing state tax returns. Gay advocates said the state’s decision will require married same-sex couples to file paper state tax returns, which is more time consuming. “It is like asking us to take off our wedding rings and pretend just this once, that we are not actually married,” said Ryan Wilson, director of SC Equality, a gay-rights group.

Same sex couple on the S.C. State House steps during rally for marriage equality March 2013

Storm Clicks

Icy weather heading to the Midlands: Sleet, freezing rain expected today through Thursday. Full story

S.C. utilities prep for outages: Ice storm could cause outages for up to five days. Full story

Forget milk: Tips for winter-weather food shopping. Full story

Blood donors sought: An Upstate blood bank is seeking donations ahead of the winter storm. Full story

Upstate bracing for winter weather "event": The Upstate could see six to ten inches of snow, more snow from a single storm in a decade, forecasters said Monday. Full story

SC Clicks

Haley message part of military spouse political event: A message from Gov. Nikki Haley will be part of an event Tuesday geared toward training military spouses to be more active in politics. Military Spouse JD Network - an organization for military spouses who also are legal professionals - and In Gear Career - a professional organization for career-minded military spouses -- are teaming up to host the political action training, dubbed HomeFront Rising, in Washington. Haley's husband spent last year on a National Guard deployment to Afghanistan. Full story

Shoot an M-16, simulator, that is: The commanding general at Fort Jackson Army training facility is offering tours. They include a simulated shooting lesson. Full story

Big balloons, Big City: An Aiken couple headed to the Big Apple to construct a five-story balloon replica of Jack and the Beanstalk at the largest balloon convention in the country. Full story

Easier pill to swallow: Easley resident Michael Ramirez created a web tool called Pill Fill to compare prescription drug costs and coverage under the Affordable Care Act.Full story

Reviewing the candidates: College of Charleston trustees were scheduled to meet Tuesday to review candidates for president, a job S.C. Lt. Gov. Glenn McCall is interested in. Full story

State House Clicks

Teacher bonus plan proposed: A Democratic state senator on Monday outlined an incentive program aimed at putting South Carolina's best teachers in front of students who need them the most. Full story

Election Clicks

Graham challenger on the campaign trail: Orangeburg attorney Bill Connor makes a campaign stop in Florence. Full story

Lt. Gov. candidate in Aiken: Pat McKinney, a Republican candidate for lieutenant governor, will make a stop at the Aiken Republican Club later this month. Full story

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