June 5, 2020

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Tourism advertising funds, manufacturer incentives sought in covid’s wake

By RICK BRUNDRETT Spending more tax dollars on tourism advertising and incentives for manufacturers are among proposals to jump-start South Carolina’s economy, which took a severe blow with government-imposed shutdowns following the coronavirus outbreak. The recommendation for increased tourism advertising is contained in a final report released last week by “accelerateSC,” an advisory committee created […]

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May 29, 2020

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State agencies issue millions in emergency purchase orders amid covid outbreak

By RICK BRUNDRETT The S.C. Department of Transportation initially wanted more than $1 million worth of hand sanitizer. The state Department of Administration requested 1,500 laptop computers and related equipment totaling nearly $468,000. The Department of Employment and Workforce sought an out-of-state technology firm with a reduced annual “subscription fee” of $74,371 for its services. […]

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May 22, 2020

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COVID-19 hasn’t infected massive gas-tax-hike surplus

By RICK BRUNDRETT Despite reduced traffic in South Carolina over the past two months resulting from government-ordered shutdowns, a state surplus under the 2017 gas-tax-hike law continued to grow while most major paving projects went unfinished, newly released records show. Through April 30, the state collected $1.2 billion under the law, which could cover nearly […]

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May 15, 2020

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State health agency spending relatively little from emergency covid funds

By RICK BRUNDRETT Since lawmakers in March approved $45 million in emergency funding for the state health department’s response to the coronavirus, the agency has spent less than 10 percent of the total, records show. The S.C. Department of Health and Environmental Control through April listed a total of about $3.9 million in expenditures, with […]

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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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