October 17, 2019

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Throwback Thursday: Lawmakers eyeing gas-tax-hike dollars for interstates, more debt

Repaving road

At Wednesday’s state Senate Finance subcommittee meeting to discuss expanding interstates, Sen. Nikki Setzler, D-Lexington, asked S.C. Department of Transportation Secretary Christy Hall, “Is there anything to prohibit you from using any of this (Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund, i.e. gas-tax-hike revenues) money to bond?” Hall replied the state could not do it pending a legal […]

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October 15, 2019

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Long legislative tradition of putting ex-colleagues, relatives in high-paying public jobs

By RICK BRUNDRETT The possibility that two more ex-lawmakers could join the state Public Service Commission – with six-figure salaries – highlights a longstanding tradition of legislators giving well-paying jobs to their former colleagues, relatives and friends. On Friday, the six-legislator, 10-member State Regulation of Public Utilities Review Committee (PURC), which nominates PSC candidates for […]

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October 10, 2019

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Throwback Thursday: Commerce’s long history of incentives secrecy

Transparency

This week, state Sen. Dick Harpootlian filed a lawsuit against the S.C. Department of Commerce to force the disclosure of Commerce records on two corporate incentives deals, one of which included a nearly $36 million state grant for the Giti Tire plant in Chester County, written about by The Nerve here and here. This is […]

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October 9, 2019

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Millions in S.C. tax dollars shelled out for second ‘phantom’ interstate

By RICK BRUNDRETT Interstate 73 isn’t the only nonexistent South Carolina highway that has been heavily subsidized with state tax dollars. From fiscal 2006 through fiscal 2013, S.C. lawmakers quietly appropriated a total of $4 million for the “routing, planning, and construction” of Interstate 74, which runs through parts of North Carolina. The annual $500,000 […]

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October 4, 2019

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Gov. McMaster using federal lobbyists to help get I-73 funding, records show

By RICK BRUNDRETT A lobbying firm hired by Gov. Henry McMaster at $15,000 a month to help get federal disaster funding also has been working on the controversial Interstate 73 project in the state – including a proposed meeting with President Donald Trump, newly released records from the Governor’s Office show. The open-ended contract, however, […]

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October 3, 2019

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Throwback Thursday: Performance reviews for the Public Service Commission

Good job

Next Tuesday, the legislatively controlled Public Utilities Review Committee (PURC) will perform the annual performance review of the Public Service Commission (PSC) – the board that regulates public utilities. State law requires the PURC – which also screens and nominates PSC members – to evaluate each PSC member to help lawmakers judge whether the energy […]

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October 2, 2019

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Filling one crack at a time: key part of DOT’s plan to ‘fix’ SC’s bad roads

By RICK BRUNDRETT Although state transportation officials claim they are making serious progress in fixing South Carolina’s bad roads and bridges with gas-tax-hike money, their own numbers continue to tell a different story. Newly released S.C. Department of Transportation records show that of the $311.3 million in total vendor payments through August under the gas-tax-hike […]

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September 26, 2019

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Right to attorney not assured for all low-income criminal defendants in SC

By RICK BRUNDRETT Under a new city of Columbia ordinance, “extreme risk” residents who are poor might get a court-appointed lawyer – despite not facing any criminal charges – before they could be ordered by a municipal judge to turn over their guns. But in South Carolina, the appointment of a public defender even in […]

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September 21, 2019

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Road-naming legislation cuts into road repair funds

By RICK BRUNDRETT When in session, S.C. lawmakers routinely introduce legislation dedicating an existing road section, bridge or intersection to a living or deceased person – including ex-legislators. Their road- and bridge-naming proposals are made through concurrent resolutions, which unlike general bills, can’t be reviewed by the governor. Since 2017, legislators have approved 57 such […]

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September 18, 2019

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SCDOT continues slow pace of road repairs with gas-tax-hike money

By RICK BRUNDRETT With the start of the third year of the state’s gas-tax-hike law, the S.C. Department of Transportation had completed less than 16% of $711.4 million in identified “pavements” projects statewide, newly released DOT records show. The Nerve last month revealed that DOT plans to complete about 2,300 miles of road repairs by […]

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