Passing a state hate crimes bill seems to be on the back burner in the Palmetto State. Only South Carolina and Wyoming have no hate crimes law, according to stories in today’s news that highlight how S.C. Republican senators don’t appear to be in any rush to make their state the 49th in the county to pass a hate crimes law. More: WCSC TVThe StateThe Post and Courier.

In other recent news:

DHEC says Omicron has peaked in S.C. schools. Amid an unprecedented strain on keeping classrooms open nationwide, South Carolina health officials are reporting that the Omicron strain of the coronavirus has peaked with quarantines and case numbers are somewhat ebbing. Meanwhile, South Carolina health officials on Thursday reported 5,136 total new cases of COVID-19, with 3,284 confirmed. They also reported 137 new deaths, 107 of which were confirmed. With 17,562 tests reported Thursday, 24.4% were positive.

Premature birth rates rise in South Carolina. South Carolina’s premature birth rate rose from 11.5% to 11.8% in 2020 — leading to a failing grade on the 2021 March of Dimes Premature Birth Report Card. Premature birth/low birthweight is the second leading cause of all infant deaths during the first year of life and the leading cause of infant death among Black infants. 

Common ground being found in S.C. Senate’s proposal on school choice. A proposed law seeks to require every school district in South Carolina to offer some type of program to send children to a school outside their zoned areas and allow children to go to a school in a different district. It would make the popular program statewide. A Senate panel has the proposal under consideration, and it has lawmakers and educators finding common ground. More: The Post and Courier.

S.C. House bill would set 2 weeks of early voting A bill introduced Feb. 3 by S.C. House Republicans would allow South Carolina residents to vote early without excuse, but would require people voting by mail to include their ID.

S.C. House leaders take aim at income tax cut. Republican lawmakers in the South Carolina House are eyeing a cut to income taxes in the state ahead of the end of this year’s General Assembly session. More: The StateSC Public Radio.

McMaster, lawmakers at odds on $525M SRS settlement fund distribution. The federal government paid South Carolina $525 million after it failed to build a facility to convert plutonium into fuel for nuclear power and stored the plutonium on the Savannah River Site. Now, Gov. Henry McMaster and lawmakers are at odds as to who gets the settlement. More: The State. 

Lowcountry lawmakers rally behind Childs for SCOTUS nomination. South Carolina Representative J.A. Moore, D-Berkeley, introduced a resolution Tuesday in support of South Carolina Judge Michelle Childs’ potential nomination to be the first Black woman on the United States Supreme Court. More: WCBD TV.

Meanwhile on Sunday, U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, a key member of the Senate Judiciary Committee from South Carolina, signaled support for Childs: “I can’t think of a better person for President Biden to consider for the Supreme Court then Michelle Childs,” Graham said in an interview with CBS.

Orangeburg Confederate monument bill gets approval in S.C. Senate. The S.C. Senate has approved a bill allowing the city of Orangeburg to move a Confederate monument from Memorial Plaza to a Confederate cemetery. But the bill might face an uphill battle in the House. The state’s Heritage Act of 2000 requires local governments to get General Assembly approval to move or change monuments in honor of the Confederacy or other movements. 

S.C.’s Harrison smacks down rumors of leaving DNC post. As President Joe Biden sinks in the polls, a media outlet reported a strain has arisen between the president and Democratic National Committee Chairman Jaime Harrison of South Carolina. But Harrison quickly dismissed rumors he would leave his post. He then went on to tout record fundraising levels for the DNC in the midterm cycle. 

S.C. cities, counties sharing up to $410M in landmark opioid settlement. Communities across the Palmetto State are set to get financial relief from drugmakers as part of a multibillion-dollar, nationwide settlement. 

This story first appeared in Statehouse Report.