May 6, 2020

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State agency can order quarantine of COVID-19 victims

By RICK BRUNDRETT Among the provisions in Gov. Henry McMaster’s emergency orders is one allowing the state health department to confine people infected with the coronavirus in their homes or other private or public places. Although the provision hasn’t been enforced to date, it’s part of the 2002 Emergency Health Powers Act (EHPA). Those who […]

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May 1, 2020

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Some SC school board members now have far more power during covid emergency

By RICK BRUNDRETT In South Carolina, public school boards have broad powers, such as hiring the district superintendent, setting administrators’ salaries and approving annual budgets. Yet since Gov. Henry McMaster closed public schools statewide in March, school boards in at least five districts have given their board chairpersons under identical emergency resolutions the sole power […]

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April 17, 2020

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Closed SC businesses in covid’s wake: Protecting public health?

By RICK BRUNDRETT Having customers in his Columbia glass art shop posed no public threat, if you ask Tom Lockart of One Eared Cow Glass. Yet after Gov. Henry McMaster put the S.C. Department of Commerce in charge of deciding what businesses are allowed to stay open or which must close when “clarification” requests are […]

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April 7, 2020

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McMaster’s ‘non-essential’ list: A hole-in-one for SC golfers – and others

By RICK BRUNDRETT Last Tuesday, Gov. Henry McMaster ordered that “non-essential” businesses statewide be closed to the public to combat the spread of the coronavirus, though he included some pretty big loopholes. Take golfing, for example. His “non-essential” list includes various “recreational and athletic facilities,” such as fitness centers, though sports that “involve interaction” of […]

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April 2, 2020

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Local emergency coronavirus orders threatening constitutional rights?

By RICK BRUNDRETT When Columbia city leaders imposed a curfew more than two weeks ago in response to the coronavirus outbreak, they required residents in most cases – under the threat of possible jail time – to isolate themselves in their homes between 11 p.m. and 6 a.m. In justifying the curfew, mayor Steve Benjamin […]

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March 25, 2020

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How S.C. lawmakers increase their odds of staying in power

state house

By RICK BRUNDRETT Every 10 years, S.C. lawmakers re-exert their authority to draw legislative and congressional district lines based on updated population counts – a typically convoluted process aimed at protecting incumbents. While the 2020 U.S. Census is underway, state lawmakers quietly are planning to initially spend as much as $2 million on the “reapportionment” […]

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March 20, 2020

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Hard road: A South Carolina couple’s ordeal after hitting a pothole

By RICK BRUNDRETT It was supposed to be a routine trip home. Phyllis Elliott and her husband, Cecil, had visited their daughter in Rock Hill last Sept. 8, and were heading back to their Lancaster home that Sunday night when their 2010 Buick LaCrosse she was driving struck a large pothole as she was turning […]

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March 17, 2020

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S.C. lawmakers pressed to find money for coronavirus response

By RICK BRUNDRETT When lawmakers return this week to debate how to pay for the state’s emergency coronavirus response, they will have to decide where exactly to get the money. In a letter Thursday to House and Senate leaders, Gov. Henry McMaster requested that lawmakers provide the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) […]

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March 13, 2020

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Will Year 2 of gas tax credit be as unpopular as the first?

By RICK BRUNDRETT A state agency is again predicting that S.C. taxpayers will claim the maximum-allowed amount of income tax credits to offset the gas tax hike, though the first official estimate was way off the mark. For last year’s income tax filings, the S.C. Revenue and Fiscal Affairs (RFA) Office projected that a total […]

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March 12, 2020

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Throwback Thursday: How lawmakers camouflage how much they actually spend

SC budget process

Anyone following the progress and coverage of the state budget this week could easily gain the impression that the S.C. House passed a $10 billion budget. That’s because lawmakers debated only one-third of the funds appropriated in the budget bill – the $9.5 billion general fund, generated by taxes. What lawmakers didn’t debate is the […]

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