South Carolina Statehouse | file photo

The S.C. Senate voted along party lines this week to approve a public school voucher program with a few changes. The program would “vastly expand eligibility for private school tuition vouchers — making them available to middle-class families rather than just those who qualify for Medicaid,” according to the Associated Press.

“Instead of being a program that’s strictly for children in poverty, it would now be a program for children in poverty and the middle class,” said S.C. Sen Greg Hembree, R-Horry.

But Senate Democrats expressed fear that Republicans would continue loosening qualifications which could eventually lead to public schools fighting private schools over state funding. 

“We now have exposed to the world: this bill has nothing to do with helping poor people to go to school,” argued S.C. Sen. Mike Fanning, D-Fairfield.

In other headlines:

S.C. House passes fentanyl crime bill. House Republicans and a few Democrats voted for legislation Feb. 1 to criminalize fentanyl trafficking. The bill was amended by voice vote on the floor for mandatory minimum sentences, which Democrats say can trap addicts who need treatment instead of incarceration.

MURDAUGH, Day 8: Both sides use cell phone data as evidence. Prosecutors’ key evidence Wednesday in the double murder trial of disbarred lawyer Alex Murdaugh was of a video from one of the victims’ phones. Murdaugh’s defense attorneys, however, used that same evidence to suggest he was not present at the time of one of the video recordings.

Charleston Animal Society to offer free vaccines, microchips. Charleston Animal Society is hosting Vax-a-Palooza Feb. 18 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. at the North Charleston Coliseum in an effort to break a Guinness World Record. Charleston Animal Society is looking to receive 2,000 vaccine pledges in 24 hours.

Union Pier plans in Charleston receive pushback. The blueprint for the redevelopment of Union Pier shows a mix of residential and commercial space, with parks and a walkway along Charleston Harbor. However, the plans have received pushback from local conservation and preservation groups for the city and State Port Authority focusing on financial gain of the area.

$350K to go toward Lowcountry road improvement. The Lowcountry Council of Governments will receive $350,000 from a new grant program in an effort to improve roadways and reduce the number of traffic fatalities each year.

Portion of Charleston drainage project breaks ground. City of Charleston officials say a new project in the Avondale and Byrnes Down area along Savannah Highway will decrease sidewalk flooding, helping connect the neighborhood to commercial businesses once again.

Charleston Co. library branches to offer help with tax filing. The Charleston County Public Library system is offering free help for people who need assistance in filing their taxes for the year. Over 10 library locations are open to help.

Myrtle Beach to get Charleston-area barbecue restaurant. Charleston-area barbecue joint Swig & Swine is expanding to Myrtle Beach with a future downtown spot off of Broadway Street.

  • To get dozens of South Carolina news stories every business day, contact the folks at SC Clips.

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