The Latest: House overrides school bus funding vetoes
Jan. 09, 2018
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — The Latest on the opening of South Carolina's 2018 legislative session (all times local):
House lawmakers have restored millions in dollars in funding to revamp South Carolina's aging school bus fleet.
The House on Tuesday voted to override Gov. Henry McMaster's veto. In June, the governor scrapped more than $20 million in lottery proceeds to replace several hundred two-decade old school buses with rear-mounted engines that are expensive to maintain and more prone to catch fire
McMaster called his veto reluctant, saying he wanted to work out a plan to replace the buses but didn't believe that using lottery money generated by greater sales and unclaimed prizes was the way to do it.
House leaders agreed they needed to find a better way to pay for school buses.
The 20 of 41 vetoes that were overridden now go to the Senate, where Republican Sen. Harvey Peeler of Gaffney called South Carolina's aging school buses "yellow firebombs" on Tuesday after several recent engine fires.
South Carolina Senate leaders are warning colleagues not to be swayed by lobbyists affiliated with a proposed takeover of a troubled South Carolina utility company.
Senate Majority Leader Shane Massey on Tuesday cautioned senators not to make decisions on legislation related the fallout from the failed reactor construction effort at the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station. Senate President Pro Tem Hugh Leatherman also urged members not to act rashly in any way that might harm the state's ability to attract new business.
Virginia-based Dominion Energy has proposed a $14.6 billion takeover of majority owner SCANA, including $1.3 billion in refunds to ratepayers.
Both chambers have been working on legislation dealing with the debacle. Floor debate on half a dozen House bills could begin as early as next week.
A group representing black business leaders in South Carolina supports drilling off of the state's coast.
The South Carolina African American Chamber of Commerce told The Associated Press on Tuesday that the expansion of offshore drilling could offer an economic boon for some of the state's impoverished areas, including many occupied by minorities.
Chairman Stephen Gilchrist told AP the chamber also supports lowering tax rates to make South Carolina more attractive for businesses. Gilchrist says many of the proposals emerged from a recent meeting at the White House with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin.
Last week, the Trump administration announced a five-year drilling plan that could open new areas of oil and gas exploration in areas off the East Coast from Florida to Maine, where drilling has been blocked for decades.
South Carolina lawmakers are returning for a session sure to be focused on how to help utility ratepayers recover from a multibillion-dollar nuclear construction debacle.
The House and Senate officially begin their sessions at noon Tuesday. Both chambers have already started work on bills to address the financial meltdown of the V.C. Summer Nuclear Station project, although House Republicans are further along and could begin floor debate as early as next week.
In addition, House Majority Leader Gary Simrill told The Associated Press on Monday that GOP lawmakers are also prioritizing continued reforms of the state retirement system.
In an opinion column over the weekend, House Democratic Leader Todd Rutherford laid out his party's priorities, including reducing the state income tax and expanding gambling and medical marijuana.