Palmetto Politics

BRIEFS:  Pension reform on the way; Winthrop Poll and Trump

BRIEFS: Pension reform on the way; Winthrop Poll and Trump

Staff reports | It looks like the General Assembly is serious about enacting state pension reform this legislative session, perhaps as early as next week in the House. Currently, the state pension systems are grossly underfunded, with tens of billions of dollars in unfunded obligations. The shortfall amount swells from $20 billion to $40 billion, depending to whom in Columbia you are talking. The pension system covers everyone from state employees to city cops and county teachers, and more.

Also in today’s briefs is a look at how South Carolinians feel about President Donald Trump compared to others and groups, according to a new Winthrop Poll.

BRIEFS:  It’s budget time; Remembering Joe Neal

BRIEFS: It’s budget time; Remembering Joe Neal

Staff reports | Lace up your budget boots because it’s already time to get serious. Next week, the House Ways and Means Committee will hold its full committee deliberations.

Because the legislature this year meets a full month less than in the past, the whole budgeting process is moving along at a quicker pace than many are used to. In the past, lawmakers generally voted on the budget by the first week of June. This year, though, they’re hoping to finish by May 1.

NEWS BRIEF:  Reading is fundamental

NEWS BRIEF: Reading is fundamental

Staff reports | The Republican-dominated House this voted to approve a resolution calling on new Gov. Henry McMaster to expand Medicaid in South Carolina.

WHAAAAATTT?!?!?!

by · 02/10/2017 · News, Palmetto Politics
BRIEFS:  From plastic bags to education policy and Fritz Hollings

BRIEFS: From plastic bags to education policy and Fritz Hollings

Staff reports | Who knew there was a “plastic bag lobby?” But there apparently is, according to environmental activists who are trying to thwart an effort to limit local governments’ abilities to make decisions about how they want to deal with waste in their boundaries.

In recent weeks, Isle of Palms and Folly Beach have banned plastic bags and Styrofoam containers as a way of keeping debris out of streams and the ocean. According to the S.C. Coastal Conservation League, “Communities up and down our coast are exploring ways to reduce single-use plastic items in order to keep our beaches clean and our sea creatures safe. Plastic products are easy to discard and break down into smaller bits called microplastics, harming sea turtles, dolphins, whales, and birds. Those microplastics also work their way through the food chain, through fish and ultimately to humans.”

Lt. Giov. Henry McMaster took the oath of office this week from S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Don Beatty to become the state's new governor. Former Gov. Nikki Haley, now an ambassador, is at left.  McMaster's wife, Peggy, stands between her husband and Beatty.  Photo provided by the Office of the Governor.

BRIEFS: The new governor’s staffers; Dark money bills filed

Staff reports | Newly sworn-in Gov. Henry McMaster has yet to name all of his office staff, but plans to do soon.

McMaster is in the transition process from serving as lieutenant governor to governor. His predecessor Nikki Haley was confirmed earlier this week by Congress to become the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations.

BRIEFS:  Overlooking Haley’s new budget; Pension reform looms

BRIEFS: Overlooking Haley’s new budget; Pension reform looms

Staff reports | Gov. Nikki Haley delivered a 636-page executive budget for 2017-18 to state legislators on Tuesday, the opening day of the legislative session. Unfortunately for her, it may become the most ignored document of the year. Haley, as most people know, is expected to become the country’s ambassador to the United Nations soon.

Also today: Pension reform.

BRIEFS:  Another legislator suspended; Session to start Tuesday

BRIEFS: Another legislator suspended; Session to start Tuesday

Staff reports | For the second time in a month, House Speaker Jay Lucas suspended a member of the S.C. House of Representatives following a criminal indictment.

On Wednesday, Lucas suspended state Rep. Chris Corley, R-Graniteville, following an indictment on felony domestic violence and weapons charges related to a Dec. 27 incident.

IN OTHER NEWS, the legislature opens its new session Tuesday …

BRIEFS: New rules, new chairs in the state Senate

BRIEFS: New rules, new chairs in the state Senate

Staff reports | In bicameral legislatures, state senates often are lauded for being chambers where bad ideas coming from a reactionary or rowdy sister chamber can be improved through a more deliberative process.

In recent years in South Carolina, however, the state Senate also has been criticized as a place where good ideas also go to die due to complex rules that stymied the process and placed lots of power in the hands of individual senators who use rules to kill something easily.