A hot-button word appears to be disappearing from one of the upcoming legislative session's hot-button bills.
From The State's Adam Beam:
A Republican lawmaker says he plans to take the “nullification” out of the Obamacare nullification bill before the state Senate.
The federal Affordable Care Act – also known as Obamacare – requires everyone to have health insurance or pay a federal tax. The state bill, H.3101, which will be before the state Senate when the Legislature reconvenes next week, would offer a state tax deduction to offset that federal tax, effectively removing the punishment for not following the law.
But state Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, the chairman of a Senate subcommittee assigned to study the House bill, is preparing an amendment that would eliminate that tax deduction along with criminal penalties for state employees that help enact the law.
“The conversation really has gotten off the rails a little bit,” Davis said Wednesday, after holding three public hearings across the state that drew hundreds. “Everybody talks about nullification. This isn’t nullification. We can’t nullify.”
'A system that is inherently flawed'
The State's John Monk reported on a ruling in a South Carolina class-action suit about the treatment of mentally-ill state prisoners that the judge called the "most troubling" of his career:
The treatment given to S.C. prison inmates suffering serious mental illness is so substandard that it’s unconstitutional and threatens the mental health of inmates, a state judge ruled Wednesday in a historic decision.
The S.C. Department of Corrections intends to appeal the decision, the agency said late Wednesday. Mental health is not just a corrections problem, it’s a national problem that all sectors of society are working to address, the agency said through a spokesman.
But the judge said the agency is responsible for its conduct.
“Evidence in this case has proved that inmates have died in the S.C. Department of Corrections for lack of basic mental health care,” Judge Michael Baxley wrote in his 45-page order, filed around noon in the Richland County courthouse. “Hundreds more remain substantially at risk for serious physical injury, mental decompensation, and profound, permanent mental illness."
He cited numerous individual cases as evidence of “a system that is inherently flawed in many respects, understaffed, underfunded and inadequate.”
Baxley, 57, of Hartsville, called the lawsuit “the most troubling” of the 70,000 cases he has handled in his 14 years on the bench.
State House meetings today
• Thursday, 11 a.m.: Joint Transportation Review Committee (Gressette Room 209,Agenda
• Thursday, Noon Ways and Means Legislative, Executive and Local Government Subcommittee (Blatt Room 511,Agenda
• Thursday, 1 p.m.: Governor's Nuclear Advisory Council, Gressette Room 207
(Note: Meeting days, times and locations are subject to change.)
Gov. Nikki Haley's public schedule this week
• Thursday, 1 p.m. – Visit Scranton Elementary School, Scranton
• Friday, 12:30 p.m. – Visit Marshall Elementary School, Orangeburg
•The S.C. House Democratic Caucus
is hosting a "Legislative Kickoff Reception" Thursday in Charleston. Featured guests include former U.S. Sen. Fritz Hollings, former Gov. Jim Hodges, Charleston Mayor Joe Riley, House Minority Leader Todd Rutherford and S.C. Democratic Party Chairman Jaime Harrison. The reception is at The Mills House Hotel from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
•Conservation Voters of South Carolina
will release its first Governor’s Report Card evaluating the conservation record of Gov. Nikki Haley and her administration on Thursday.
•Legislative workshop for the media
will be held Thursday at the State House featuring lawmakers discussing top topics of the 2014 session including the Affordable Care Act, roads, education reform, ethics reform and the budget. The event is sponsored by the S.C. Press Association, S.C. Broadcasters Association and The Associated Press.
The education of Nikki Haley
Gov. Nikki Haley put forth a nearly $160 million plan on Wednesday education reform plan aimed at helping poor students, hiring reading coaches and spending more on classroom technology.
From The State's Jamie Self:
Most of the money to pay for Haley’s proposals — about $130 million — would come from the $200 million in new revenue that the state expects to have this year. But about $29 million would come from the state’s capital reserve fund, her office confirmed. Haley has said the proposal would require no tax increases.
The plan would focus resources on low-income school districts and those where students struggle in reading, Haley said.
For example, $29.5 million would go to pay for the full salary of a reading coach in 300 elementary schools in districts where 20 percent or more of the students fail to meet the basic state standards for reading. Another 340 schools would be offered money to cover half the cost of a reading coach if their school district agrees to match the money.
The plan calls for $6 million for summer reading camps, up from $1.5 million that the General Assembly committed last year to start the camps.
Haley also is requesting $29.3 million from the state’s capital reserves to add to an existing $10.2 million to pay for technology, both wireless access and computing devices for students.
The head of the state trade group for school administrators, Molly Spearman, said the focus of Haley's plan "is right on target."
The proposal is “refreshing,” Spearman said, adding the state’s last major education reform push came under Democratic Gov. Jim Hodges.
Haley's likely Democratic challenger in the November election, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, did not seem that impressed with the plan, saying his party has touted some of the same reforms. (Sheheen offered his own plan to raise teacher pay.)
“That’s nothing new, and I’m glad she’s on board with that,” Sheheen said.
•Minor league baseball team owner Jason Freier guaranteed Wednesday that he would bring a team to Columbia
if the city builds a new ballpark as part of the redevelopment of the old State Hospital campus on Bull Street. Freier owns teams in Fort Wayne, Ind., and Savannah. USC athletics director Ray Tanner told The State that he doesn’t believe minor league baseball would compete or interfere with Gamecock baseball.Full story
•Lowcountry lawmakers are trying to marry the College of Charleston
and the Medical University of South Carolina to create a larger research university, like the University of South Carolina and Clemson University.Full story
•The state is running out of money to prevent leaks
from a closed toxic waste landfill near Lake Marion and taxpayers are almost certain to make up a chunk of the shortfall – instead of a company that once ran the dump in rural Sumter County.Full story
•The state's top prosecutor has the authority
to try criminal domestic violence cases in municipal and magistrate courts throughout South Carolina, according to an opinion Wednesday by the state's highest court.Full story
•Gov. Nikki Haley and several state organizations announced a campaign Wednesday to double
the number of potential organ and tissue donors in the state and erase its 1,000-person waiting list for life-saving transplants. South Carolina ranks 45th in the nation with its donor designation rate.Full story
•The Shaw-based airman whose complaints of sexual harassment
resulted in a force-wide investigation into the hostile work conditions for women throughout the military branch has appealed the results of the inquiry, saying the penalties did not go far enough to address the problems facing female airmen serving today.Full story
•The S.C. Republican Party wants a better red-dye job
in the state. The state's dominant political party sent a fundraising pitch for new program, "Red to the Roots," asking for donations to elect more GOP local elected officials. Republicans hold all but one of the major state and federal offices.Full story
•Former Myrtle Beach area representative Thad Viers
will serve jail time on a charge related to the harassment of his former girlfriend.Full story
•The Ohio-based company that once planned to develop the Palmetto Compress
warehouse into student housing wants to build apartments with more than 700 beds nearby aimed at the University of South Carolina community. The land is being bought from the USC Development Foundation.Full story
•This was the most popular story
on Wednesday and early Thursday-- presented without comment (though maybe a few snickers).Full story
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