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Gov. Haley vetoes study of moving military museum, Confederate flag

Republican Gov. Nikki Haley vetoed a study of moving the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum to Charleston from Columbia.

The museum is the new home of the last Confederate flag to fly on the State House grounds.

The proposal to explore moving the Relic Room emerged after estimates of the cost of displaying the flag at the museum came in at $3.6 million.

Lawmakers delayed deciding how much to spend on the flag display until at least next year, proposing instead a study on moving the Gervais Street museum, housed in a former Columbia textile mill.

The flag was furled from the State House grounds last year in the aftermath of the racially motivated slaying of nine parishioners at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church.

Moving the Relic Room to a location with a high volume of tourists could generate more money, state Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston, said Thursday. “The Relic Room – where it is in Columbia – is a $4.5 million boondoggle.”

But Haley said it was important to legislators, who she worked with to bring down the flag, that “they were going to be able to develop a proper, respectful place for it” at the current Confederate Relic Room location.

“Never in any of those conversations … did they talk about moving it to Charleston,” Haley said, adding that proposal arose because a couple of legislators or former legislators want it moved to Charleston. “We talked about Columbia – never did we talk about Charleston – and I have to stay true to my word on that.”

Haley also vetoed a coyote-bounty program that would have required the state Department of Natural resources to tag 16 coyotes across the state.

If hunters bagged a tagged coyote, they would have received a reward – a lifetime hunting license. Previously, lawmakers had proposed a $1,000 reward for killing tagged coyotes.

But Haley said that proposal – designed to encourage hunters to kill the predators, blamed for killing pets and deer – is problematic.

“If you can go and tag a coyote: Why wouldn’t you just get rid of it?” Haley asked rhetorically.

Republican Haley vetoed spending bills totaling $41.1 million from the state’s $7.5 billion general fund budget.

Haley praised lawmakers for not including a borrowing plan, like the $500 million proposal defeated last year. That proposal would have paid for overdue maintenance on state-owned buildings, including colleges and universities.

However, the governor blasted lawmakers for combining budget items, making it more challenging for her to veto specific items.

Haley also said she plans soon to issue an executive order banning pass-through budget requests to cabinet agencies. In those requests, lawmakers direct money to cabinet agencies but then tell the agency head how they want the money spent, Haley said.

“You’re compromising my director,” Haley said of the legislative practice. “You’re compromising the process.”

Lawmakers return next week to accept or override Haley’s vetoes. It takes a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to override an veto.

Cassie Cope: 803-771-8657, @cassielcope

Richland County vetoes

Gov. Nikki Haley vetoed 51 budget items totaling $41.5 million. Of the budget vetoes, at least $785,000 was for projects in Richland County.

$400,000: IT-oLogy Coursepower, a computing program provided by the nonprofit organization, based in Columbia, aimed at growing the information-technology profession

$380,000: For the S.C. Military Museum, housed in the Adjutant General’s Office, off Bluff Road

$5,000: For the S.C. State Museum for collections and content

Richland County Indoor Aquatic and Community Center: Haley vetoed a move that would have made it easier for Richland County to get $100,000 from the state to develop plans for an aquatic center

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