STATE BUDGET-SOUTH CAROLINA
House rejects raises for all state workers; OKs $10B budget
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina House has rejected proposals to give across-the-board raises to state employees. The House approved the state's $10 billion budget Tuesday. The spending plan provides $42 million for state employees raises, but allows agency leaders to give them out as they wish. Democrats say that isn't fair and offered proposals for an across the board 5 % and 2.5% for state employees. Both were rejected by a vote of almost all the House's 80 Republicans. The budget does include a $3,000 raise for all teachers, and some Democrats warned state employees may feel especially shunned and take action.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-SOUTH CAROLINA
Coronavirus cases up to 9 in SC after 2 more positive tests
CAMDEN, S.C. (AP) — Two more people have tested positive for the new coronavirus in South Carolina,. State health officials said Tuesday that both people are connected to the original case of a woman in Camden. South Carolina now has nine people diagnosed with COVID-19. Two of the cases have been confirmed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, while federal testing on the other seven are pending. Seven of the cases are in and around Camden, a city of about 7,200 people about 40 miles northeast of Columbia. Health officials say the latest two positive tests were “household contacts" with the initial woman diagnosed on Friday and both people remain in the hospital.
PUBLIC UTILITY SALE
Senators working fast on changes at SC state utility
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — South Carolina senators are wasting little time in bringing together their plan to remake state owned utility Santee Cooper. A subcommittee spent about an hour Tuesday creating a framework of what they wanted in a reform bill. Senate Finance Committee staffers and lawyers then spent several hours to write those suggestions into a bill and the full Finance Committee approved it Tuesday afternoon. The House is working on its own Santee Cooper reforms. Both the House and Senate want to fire the current Santee Cooper board that they blame for approving a minority stake in two nuclear reactors that were halted during construction, leaving Santee Cooper with $4 billion in debt.
VIRUS OUTBREAK-ONLINE COLLEGE CLASSES
College will test run online classes amid coronavirus threat
CHARLESTON, S.C. (AP) — A college in South Carolina will be holding all classes online this upcoming Thursday to test-run whether the school can go all-digital if necessary to combat the new coronavirus threat. Officials at the College of Charleston say they are checking whether the school can function online should the spread of the virus causes it to close. There are no cases of coronavirus at the college as of Tuesday. University president Andrew Hsu said the school must be prepared to maintain academic progress while also ensuring the health and safety of the campus. South Carolina now has nine people diagnosed with COVID-19.
Bill to track rape kits in South Carolina passes Senate
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — A bill requiring state police to set up a system to track evidence collected during sexual assault investigations has received key approval in the state Senate. Currently in South Carolina there is no system to track the evidence, called rape kits, and victims often have no idea if police have tested the evidence. The House passed the bill to create the database last year. The Senate version made small changes like moving the date to start the database to 2022 and shielding victim information from becoming public. The House will either accept the changes or the two chambers will have to negotiate.
SC's longest serving black lawmaker to step aside