COLUMBIA, SC -- For politicos, it's kind of like opening a belated holiday gift: finding out just how well or poorly candidates fared at fundraising in 2013's final quarter.
Today is the deadline for filing, and eyes are on the race between Gov. Nikki Haley, R-Lexington, and her likely Democratic challenger state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, a Camden attorney who bested Haley's second-quarter fundraising receipts, before Haley pulled ahead, finishing the third quarter with $3.2 million on hand to Sheheen's $1 million.
Running for lieutenant governor are Democratic state Rep. Bakari Sellers, and Republican and Haley ally Pat McKinney, a Charleston developer.
In the race for state Superintendent of Education are two Democrats -- state Rep. and retired high-school football coach Mike Anthony of Union and Fort Mill's Montrio Belton, a former Education Department employee who worked under state schools' chief Mick Zais. Zais recently announced he would not run for re-election.
State's first private school-choice program on hold
Donors and students are waiting for a state agency's green light before South Carolina's first private-school choice program goes live. The state program offers a tax credit for donations that pay for private-school scholarships for special-needs students:
Last year, the General Assembly approved the program, offering up to $8 million in tax credits for donations made to the scholarship organizations. Jan. 1 was the first day taxpayers could make donations eligible for a dollar-for-dollar reduction of up to 60 percent of the donor’s tax liability.
More than 40 private schools, located mostly in the Charleston, Greenville and Columbia areas, have been approved to enroll scholarship students.
But without an organization to donate to, the program is on hold.
Potential scholarship recipients are not the only ones waiting for the program to begin, said Jeff Davis with Palmetto Kids First, a Mount Pleasant-based scholarship organization that Davis launched.
While awaiting approval, Palmetto Kids First has received $2 million in pledges. From 200 to 250 students also are applying for scholarships, Davis said.
The rub in ethics reform? Enforcement
This year's debate over ethics reform is shaping up to come down to naming the police.
From The State's Adam Beam:
Ethics reform – the thorny issue embraced by the state’s candidates for governor but held at arms length by most rank-and-file legislators – will live or die on one issue when lawmakers return to Columbia next week: Enforcement.
A bipartisan committee of seven state senators Thursday released its report on a House ethics bill, revealing it could not agree on who should investigate and prosecute lawmakers charged with ethics violations.
“We have reached an impasse on that,” said state Sen. Darrell Jackson, D-Richland, a member of the study committee. “We just have to resolve it on the floor.”
Now, lawmakers investigate each other. In the past two years, the House Ethics Committee has dismissed an ethics complaint against Republican Gov. Nikki Haley and punted rather than investigate charges against powerful House Speaker Bobby Harrell, R-Charleston.
Critics say the state needs an independent ethics commission to investigate lawmakers to avoid the perception that they are getting special treatment from fellow legislators.
Others – including state Sen. Luke Rankin, R-Horry, chairman of the ethics study committee – point to the Senate Ethics Committee’s investigation of state Sen. Robert Ford and the Charleston Democrat’s subsequent resignation as proof that the current system works.
SRS toxic waste tank cracking
From The State's Sammy Fretwell:
Savannah River Site officials recently discovered a new crack in a tank that contains some of the most dangerous nuclear waste in South Carolina, a state now embroiled in a tank cleanup dispute with the federal government.
The cracked bin is not leaking atomic material, but its condition underscores the need to speed the cleanup of dozens of high-level waste tanks at SRS, state officials and environmentalists said Thursday afternoon. The aging Cold War-era tanks hold about 36 million gallons of the deadly waste.
“Those tanks are wearing out and we have got to get the waste out of them,’’ said Karen Patterson, chairwoman of the Governor’s Nuclear Advisory Council.
Gov. Nikki Haley's public schedule this week
• Friday, 9:30 a.m. - Visit Forest Hills Elementary School, Walterboro
• Friday, 12:30 p.m. – Visit Marshall Elementary School, Orangeburg
•The schools Haley planned to visit this week
after unveiling her education reform package all shared something in common -- they were in three counties Sheheen won in 2010.Full story.
•Former USC football star Jadeveon Clowney
evaded a S.C. Highway Patrol hearing scheduled for Thursday on a speeding ticket he received for doing 110 mph in a 70-mph zone on Interstate 77.Full story
•Gov. Haley got a "D" from an S.C. conservation group
in a report card released Thursday.Conservation Voters of South Carolina said the grade stemmed
from her lack of attention to protecting the state's natural resources.
•The S.C. attorney general’s office says Gov. Nikki Haley
can use state cars to go to political events and give rides to her political staff as well.Full story.
•U.S. Sen. Tim Scott wants to change work hours to qualify for health care
. The North Charleston Republican filed an amendment to the unemployment insurance extension bill to define full-time employment under the Affordable Care Act as 40 hours per week.Full story.
•S.C. lawmakers want more details on Gov. Haley's education plan
before committing to her proposal's programs or the price tag.Full story
•U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, changed his mind about Gov. Chris Christie
after the New Jersey Republican took heat for his aide's traffic-snarl of a retaliation scheme he said he knew nothing about. Meanwhile, Gov. Haley defended Christie on Facebook.Full story.
•The lone Democrat running to oust U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham
is meeting with Democrats in Spartanburg on MondayFull story
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