TOP FIVE: Foreign worker allegations, lottery sales and more

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By Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent  |  Our weekly Top Five feature offers big stories or views from the past week or so with policy and legislative implications that you need to read because of how they could impact South Carolina.  If you have stories to suggest to our readers, send to:  feedback@statehousereport.com.

  1. S.C. business owners allege officials ignore foreign worker complaints, CBS News, Nov. 21, 2017.

In an investigation this summer, CBS said it found hundreds of Eastern European workers at American construction sites, including factories for BMW and Volvo, both of which operate in South Carolina. In this follow-up to the previous reporting, South Carolina business owners told the news agency that state officials with S.C. Department of Commerce have ignored the issue for years. They say the foreign workforce undercuts their businesses. S.C. Commerce Secretary Bobby Hitt declined comment for the story.   An excerpt:

“(AEC CEO Donna) Rauch and four other South Carolina business executives, who declined to speak publicly for fear of being blacklisted, told us they’ve made dozens of complaints like these to state officials, starting as far back as 2013.”

  1. State agency’s study to look at poverty, lottery sales, The Post and Courier, Nov. 19, 2017.

A new study by the S.C. Commission on Minority Affairs will look at lottery sales in all 46 S.C. counties. In previous reporting, The Post and Courier noted a correlation between poor counties and higher spending per capita on lottery sales. An excerpt:

“In some rural counties, per capita spending on the lottery tends to be much higher than in urban areas. (Commission staffer Benjamin) Washington is interested in the correlation between counties where people spend more of their income on the lottery and the availability of lottery money for higher education.”

  1. Less rain is falling day-to-day in South Carolina, The Post and Courier, Nov. 21, 2017.

A study from the University of Illinois has found that South Carolina is seeing less daily precipitation. Researchers say the state has seen a 1.25 mm decrease per year — which seems small but could have big impacts, they say. An excerpt:

“In South Carolina, less rainfall could further complicate attempts by state officials to find ways to regulate water use during droughts, as the demand on the supply continues to grow. To manage the changes, more research is needed in ‘micro-climates,’ specific local areas, the study authors suggested.”

  1. S.C. teachers report being injured by students, Live 5 News, Nov. 16, 2017.

Six Lowcountry school districts had 122 incidents in which students injured teachers in the last school year. About a quarter of injuries stemmed from students fighting. An excerpt:

“In the injury descriptions, teachers recalled being ‘hit with a tape dispenser,’ ‘punched in the face,’ ‘spit in the eye,’ ‘bit,’ ‘kicked,’ and ‘scratched and punched.’ In one case, a student ‘kicked her teacher in the face and made her head go back into the concrete wall. She collapsed and could not move.’”

  1. South Carolina gives more but still falls 14 places when it comes to charity, Smart Asset, Nov. 16, 2017.

In the 2016 study of most and least charitable states, South Carolina ranked 20th from the top in most charitable. A year later the Palmetto State ranked 34th. But S.C. residents are giving more dollar and time to charity. According to the study. For every 1,000 people, $577 went to charity in 2016 compared to the $626 given in 2017.  The 2016 total value of volunteer time per capita was calculated at $569. This year it was valued at $701. An excerpt:

“Overall the whole country did a commendable job supporting each other. According to 2015 IRS data, over $222 billion was deducted from taxes for charitable donations, an increase of $12 billion from 2014. Over 62 million Americans volunteered, giving a combined 7.9 billion hours of their time. That volunteer time was worth $184 billion dollars according to the Corporation for National and Community Service.”

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