Latest South Carolina news, sports, business and entertainment at 9:20 p.m. EDT


Colleges cancel classes as SC reports 10th coronavirus case

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The University of South Carolina is extending spring break by a week for students at its Columbia campus and moving to virtual instruction when students return because of the new coronavirus. The state's largest university cancelled classes until March 22. South Carolina State University, Coastal Carolina University and Furman University also are cancelling classes until March 22. Columbia officials announced Wednesday that the St. Patrick's Day Festival that brings up to 50,000 people downtown won't be held March 21. State health officials said a 10th case of COVID-19 in South Carolina was diagnosed Wednesday in Lancaster County. Officials say the latest case wasn't immediately linked to other cases and the person infected is in isolation at a hospital.


State agrees to ignore law on gay relationships in sex ed

South Carolina education officials have agreed not to enforce part of their own state law that bans sex education teachers from mentioning any relationships other than heterosexual ones — unless the talk involves sexually transmitted diseases. Civil rights groups last month sued the state, saying the law violated the U.S. Constitution. They also say it led to a hostile classroom climate that fostered bullying of students who aren't heterosexual. A federal judge on Wednesday signed a consent agreement reached between the plaintiffs and the state, in which both sides agree not to enforce the contentious requirement. State officials had no immediate comment.


SC House OKs extra money for roads, teachers and tax relief

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The South Carolina House has passed the state's $10 billion budget, putting additional money into teacher salaries, roads, safety at state prisons and tax relief and rebates. The House finished work on the spending plan Wednesday, a day earlier than usual. The speed was especially surprising because lawmakers had an additional $1.8 billion to spend over the past year's budget. The spending plan does not include an across-the-board raise for state employees. Instead, agency leaders will decide how to dole out $42 million for extra pay. The House plan puts $100 million into rural roads, gives each teacher a $3,000 raise, allots $100 million for state prison safety and sets aside $248 million for tax relief and rebates.


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.


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.


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.