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
(Note: Meeting days, times and locations are subject to change.)
Gov. Nikki Haley's public schedule this week
Buzzin' TodayThe S.C. House Democratic Caucus Conservation Voters of South Carolina Legislative workshop for the media
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.
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