SC lawmakers hope to pass budget this week
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A panel of House and Senate members is working to reach agreement on the state budget for the fiscal year that starts in two weeks.
The budget conference committee is expected to open its meeting Monday afternoon, following behind-the-scenes negotiations.
Issues left unresolved from Friday's meeting include whether to give state employees a 1% pay raise or cover increases in their health insurance premiums. Advocates for state employees say they'll otherwise see a reduction in their paycheck because of a scheduled increase in their pension contributions.
The full Legislature will return to Columbia on Tuesday for a special session.
Adoption of a budget this week would give Gov. Nikki Haley time to issue her vetoes and the Legislature to deal with them before the 2013-14 fiscal year begins.
Smoke forces partial evacuation at SC Statehouse
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - About 20 people were evacuated from the South Carolina Statehouse for about an hour after smoke from an escalator set off alarms.
Public Safety Department spokeswoman Sherri Iacobelli (YAK'-uh-behl-ee) says a smoke alarm went off shortly before 9 a.m. Monday. She says the smoke came from an escalator in the parking garage beneath the building.
Officers with the Bureau of Protective Services and staff members with the sergeant at arms offices in the House and Senate supervised the evacuation.
No injuries were reported.
Workers were allowed to return to the building around 10 a.m.
SUPREME COURT-MOTOR VEHICLE RECORDS
High court says driver records protected
WASHINGTON (AP) - The Supreme Court says lawyers may not obtain personal information from state driver license records to recruit clients for lawsuits.
The justices voted 5-4 Monday in favor of South Carolina residents who objected to solicitations from lawyers to join a lawsuit against car dealers. Justice Anthony Kennedy said in his majority opinions that a lawyer's solicitation of clients is prohibited by a federal privacy law intended to shield motor vehicle records.
The court left it to lower courts to determine whether letters sent by the lawyers were predominantly efforts to recruit clients.
Among the lawyers named in the Supreme Court appeal is Richard Harpootlian, former chairman of the South Carolina Democratic party.
MOTORCYCLE DEATH CHARGE
Columbia man charged with fatal motorcycle wreck
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - A Columbia man has been arrested in a fatal motorcycle wreck.
Twenty-6-year-old Troy Lebrente Wilson was arrested after the wreck Saturday night.
Wilson is charged with felony drunken driving involving a death, hit and run involving a death, driving under suspension, failure to render aid, having an open container of alcohol in a vehicle, possession of marijuana with intent to distribute and a seatbelt violation.
Richland County Coroner Gary Watts says the victim was 48-year-old John E. Sparrow of Hopkins.
Columbia police spokeswoman Jennifer Timmons says Wilson is accused of turning in front of the motorcycle. Sparrow hit the passenger door of the car.
He was taken to Palmetto Health Richland hospital where he died.
It was not clear if Wilson has a lawyer.
Beaufort County to discuss island transportation
HILTON HEAD ISLAND, S.C. (AP) - Beaufort County wants to take a look at transportation options for Daufuskie (daw-FUHS'-kee) Island.
The Island Packet of Hilton Head reports county officials have proposed spending $50,000 to study long-term transportation plans for ferry service to the barrier island.
There are no bridges connecting Daufuskie with the mainland.
County administrator Gary Kubic says he wants to talk with experts from New York, Seattle and other places with successful ferry service to come up with a long-term plan.
Kubic says property values on the island have dropped because of concerns about the reliability of current ferry transportation. A preliminary report shows property values have dropped 40% over the past five years.
The county spends about $250,000 annually for the existing ferry service.
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