August 6, 2021

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Fiscal ‘21 ends with huge gas-tax-hike surplus amid unfinished projects

By RICK BRUNDRETT Stuck in a pothole. For the fiscal year that ended June 30, a special fund created with the 2017 state gas-tax-hike law had an $896.1 million surplus – a 50% increase compared to the end of fiscal 2020, records show. Total collected revenues also grew by about the same rate over the […]

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August 3, 2021

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Lawmaker: Little vetting of governor’s pick for DOT Commission

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By RICK BRUNDRETT Gov. Henry McMaster quietly appointed the owner of a well-known Columbia restaurant – and generous campaign donor – to a vacant state Department of Transportation Commission seat, but a lawmaker is questioning the selection process. The 2nd Congressional District Legislative Delegation is scheduled this morning to vote whether to confirm McMaster’s appointment […]

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July 29, 2021

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Counties still paying lawmakers for ‘phantom’ delegation offices

By RICK BRUNDRETT Last year, S.C. Sen. Kent Williams of Marion County reported receiving a collective $17,060 in legislative delegation payments from neighboring Dillon and Florence counties, parts of which are in his Senate district. Another longtime lawmaker, Rep. Jackie Hayes of Dillon County, received $12,500 in 2020 – the same amount paid to Williams […]

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July 27, 2021

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House member quit suddenly last year; now a judicial candidate. Coincidence?

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By RICK BRUNDRETT What a difference a year can make – especially if you’re a state lawmaker. In unexpectedly resigning his longtime House seat last July after winning the Republican primary, Alan Clemmons, a Myrtle Beach attorney, said in an affidavit to the State Election Commission that he was withdrawing from the general election because […]

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July 22, 2021

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Lawmakers to spend millions on incumbency-protection maps

By RICK BRUNDRETT The S.C. House and Senate plan to spend millions creating new legislative and congressional district maps based on the latest U.S. Census – a convoluted process that lawmakers undertake every 10 years. Historically, the “reapportionment” or “redistricting” process has been aimed at keeping incumbent legislators in office, though it’s not the official […]

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July 16, 2021

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State, county websites offer scant information on legislative delegations

By RICK BRUNDRETT If you want to learn what your county legislative delegation is up to, you likely won’t find much – if any – information on county government websites or the state Legislature’s website. The state Supreme Court in 1996 ruled that legislative delegations, made up of senators and House members representing a county, […]

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July 14, 2021

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Legislative delegations skirting state open-meetings law

By RICK BRUNDRETT One day last month, state lawmakers representing Greenville County held separate meetings in a legislative building on the State House grounds in downtown Columbia – about 103 miles from Greenville – to discuss certain county board appointments that they control, as well as rules governing their delegation meetings. In the smaller Darlington […]

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July 9, 2021

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Few S.C. bridges fixed with gas-tax-hike money

By RICK BRUNDRETT Only three bridge projects have been completed in South Carolina with the nearly $2 billion in revenues collected under the 2017 state gas-tax-hike law, recently released transportation department records show. And although the S.C. Department of Transportation has identified 465 out of 750 “structurally deficient” bridges statewide to be replaced, other agency […]

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July 7, 2021

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Some state agency heads start new fiscal year with big pay raises

By RICK BRUNDRETT A legislatively controlled committee has given five-figure pay hikes to a group of state agency heads, and a new law empowers the panel to recommend raises next fiscal year for certain statewide elected officials. The Agency Head Salary Commission (AHSC) on Thursday– the start of the new fiscal year – approved the […]

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June 30, 2021

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Earmark secrecy continues as state budget goes into effect

By RICK BRUNDRETT In vetoing 226 budget earmarks totaling $152.5 million, Gov. Henry McMaster last week wrote that the “bulk of these earmarked appropriations still lack sufficient context, description, explanation of merit, or justification as to how the recipient intends to spend the funds.” That might be one of the biggest understatements on how lawmakers […]

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