News briefs

BRIEF: State previews IDs; Aiken closes publication to take state job

BRIEF: State previews IDs; Aiken closes publication to take state job

By Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent  |  New drivers’ licenses that are compliant with federal rules will be available early next year, according to the S.C. Department of Motor Vehicles, which released images of the new REAL ID cards this week. Use of the new licenses is voluntary.

According to a news release, SCDMV said residents may be able to buy the new REAL ID licenses online with a valid credit card in 2018.

by · 11/15/2017 · News, News briefs
BRIEF: State says Amazon owes $57 million in uncollected sales taxes

BRIEF: State says Amazon owes $57 million in uncollected sales taxes

By Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent  |  South Carolina estimates that $57 million is missing from its coffers because retail giant Amazon failed to collect sales tax from third-party sellers. Amazon has disputed the claim, saying third-party vendors are responsible for any sales tax owed on those sales.

In a motion filed Wednesday with the S.C. administrative law court, the S.C. Department of Revenue (SCDOR) said that Amazon was responsible for collecting sales tax from all sales through its site, and that it has “selectively chosen to collect and remit on only some of its sales,”  costing the state out of millions over the last two years since a sales-tax exemption expired.

Previously, SCDOR only revealed a snippet of the alleged missing cash from 2016, saying Amazon failed to give the state $12 million in first quarter of 2016.

by · 11/10/2017 · News, News briefs
S.C. gun safety advocacy group seeks middle ground to curb tragedies

S.C. gun safety advocacy group seeks middle ground to curb tragedies

By Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent  |  A gun safety lobbying group founded in 2015 after South Carolina’s mass shooting at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston  is still struggling to get lawmakers to listen.

Arm-in-Arm, a South Carolina grassroots group, said it is having trouble despite 2015 and 2016 polls showing more than 80 percent of South Carolinians favor stricter background checks on gun purchases.

“It’s reckless and irresponsible for South Carolina to not have reasonable laws that prevent people from getting guns if they should not have them in the first place,” spokesman Meghan Trezies said in an email exchange with Statehouse Report. “The biggest battle is to be heard.

by · 11/09/2017 · News, News briefs
Race still matters across South, Winthrop Poll suggests

Race still matters across South, Winthrop Poll suggests

By Andy Brack, editor and publisher  |  Race still seems to matter across the South, but maybe not as much as it used to in some areas, based on results from a new Winthrop Poll released today.

Overall, black and white Southerners have different ways of looking at how the country is doing and with how they perceive slavery, discrimination, success, religion and Confederate monuments.  But the two races agree on their views of liberty, success, Southern qualities and some extremists. Consider:

Country’s track:  Seven out of eight blacks (88 percent) said they thought the country is headed in the wrong direction, compared to 55 percent of whites.  Three in five black respondents think the country’s economic conditions are getting worse, compared to 28 percent of whites.

by · 11/08/2017 · News, News briefs
NEWS BRIEF: Can a Kentucky program help S.C.’s poorest schools?

NEWS BRIEF: Can a Kentucky program help S.C.’s poorest schools?

By Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent  |  A strategy that has found success in Kentucky and elsewhere is being billed as a way for South Carolina to comply with the 2014 state Supreme Court decision to bring poor, rural schools up to standard.

If implemented, the Community School program would be operated through S.C. Department of Education, making $25 million in state grants available for poor, rural district schools and $100,000 in grants per year per school for operating at the school level. The program is focused on making schools a central focus of the community.

The S.C. Education Association (SCEA) recommended the strategy for complying with the Abbeville v. the State of South Carolina decision …

by · 11/01/2017 · News, News briefs, Politics
U.S. Rep. Jim Clyburn promotes the benefits of the Affordable Care Act in this photo from 2012.

NEWS BRIEF: Obamacare enrollment begins next week

By Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent  |  Health advocates are urging individuals and families to enroll as soon as possible for the Affordable Care Act’s Marketplace coverage.

Enrollment opens Nov. 1 and ends Dec. 15 — half of the amount of time of previous enrollment periods.

On Oct. 24, the Kaiser Family Foundation held a web briefing focusing on key information for individuals shopping for marketplace coverage in Georgia, North Carolina and South Carolina. Panelists included Shelli D. Quenga, director of programs at Palmetto Project.

by · 10/26/2017 · News, News briefs
Farmers are harvesting cotton in fields like this one in Bamberg County.

NEWS BRIEF: Legislative Rural Caucus stagnates but plans regroup in 2018

By Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent  |  When the Legislative Rural Caucus was formed more than a decade ago, it was a recognized, active caucus. But a call to the S.C. House clerk shows that the member list hasn’t been updated since Oct. 10, 2007.

That’s because, since that time, the caucus has become more of an informal caucus, according to S.C. Rep. Laurie Funderburk, D-Kershaw.  She acts as the caucus’ secretary but does not lead it.

Funderburk
“It’s not like the Women’s Caucus, and it’s not like the Black Caucus or Republican or Democratic caucuses. It is more — at least over the years — it has been a way for legislators in the rural area to rally around issues that affect rural South Carolina,” Funderburk said.

by · 10/26/2017 · News, News briefs
NEWS: Loss of federal program imperils state’s record-low teen pregnancy rate

NEWS: Loss of federal program imperils state’s record-low teen pregnancy rate

By Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent  |  With the good news of the state’s lowest teenage pregnancy rate in recent history, there is a little bad news: the federal program that awarded South Carolina $6.53 million to prevent teen pregnancies will come to an end June 30, 2018, according to a S.C. nonprofit focused on preventing teenage pregnancy. The Teen Pregnancy Prevention Program in the Office of Adolescent Health in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has been doling out funds for the last three years.

Statehouse Report originally reported on the proposed cut to the program in July, and the cut was made official in the federal budget a few weeks later. Already, some teen prevention programs around the nation are looking at scaling back efforts or closing altogether, according to multiple media reports.

by · 10/18/2017 · News, News briefs