Photo by Pepi Stojanovski on Unsplash

State lawmakers have until May 12 to approve a $12 billion budget following Thursday’s approval of the spending plan pushed by the state Senate.

Because the Senate bill, which includes a $1 billion income tax reduction and a $1 billion rebate for taxpayers, is different than a House plan, which didn’t feature a billion-dollar rebate, the House is expected to reject the Senate plan. That will then send the measure to a compromise committee of three senators and three House members to hammer out an agreement.  

During the week, several GOP state senators expressed some regret over the rebate, but backed off. They wanted the extra money used to build roads and schools and to pay for employee raises.

In other recent news:

Sumter Republican elected next S.C. House speaker. The S,C. House unanimously elected state Rep. Murrell Smith on Thursday to be the next speaker of the House, the top and most powerful position in the chamber. The Sumter Republican, who currently chairs the powerful Ways and Means Committee, will take office after the May 12 close of the chamber’s regular session.  

Emanuel AME survivor pushes Senate for hate crimes law. Polly Sheppard, a survivor in 2015’s Emanuel AME Church shooting in Charleston that left nine dead, urged Republicans in the state Senate to join 48 other states in passing a hate crimes law. The bill has been stuck for months with eight Republicans senators objecting. Only eight more legislative days remain before the bill dies. Sheppard urges the objecting senators to at least vote on the bill, instead of letting the measure die. Charleston City Council passed a resolution supporting a hate crimes bill.

McMaster signs law preventing vaccine mandates. S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster signed into law this week preventing South Carolina employers from mandating Covid-19 vaccines and that worship services are “necessary and vital to the health and welfare of the public” during a state of emergency.

S.C. House advances abortion-reversal bill. The S.C. House on Wednesday advanced a controversial bill that would require doctors to disclose information about “abortion reversals” to women receiving chemical abortions, which are induced by ingesting two drugs. However, despite passing the bill for a second reading, there are only seven legislative days left in the session, facing a tight deadline to become law.

S.C. recognized in role of desegregation. The Brown v. Board of Education National Historic Site Expansion Act was unanimously passed earlier this week by the U.S. House, modifying the legislation to expand its National Parks sites to recognize the five cases that were combined as Brown v. Board of Education. In addition to the Monroe School building in Topeka, Kansas, locations in three other states and Washington, D.C. will become recognized as historic sites.

Cost to extend I-526 in Charleston triples to $2.4 billion. The South Carolina Department of Transportation on Tuesday updated the estimated cost of a long-awaited project that would extend the Mark Clark Expressway from West Ashley across Johns Island to James Island, bringing the new total estimate to a whopping $2.35 billion.

Bill allowing limited betting on horse races advances. Legislation allowing limited gambling on horse races to invest in South Carolina’s equestrian industry is advancing in the Senate, with backers saying it’s time for the state to benefit from bets already placed illegally.

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