File photo | Credit: Sean Rayford file

State lawmakers moved forward in recent days with big plans on how to spend billions in federal and surplus dollars across South Carolina.

On Tuesday, state senators spent less than two hours deciding how to spend more than $2 billion in federal money coming to the state. The next day, the South Carolina House passed its own version of a plan to spend nearly $1.8 billion in federal COVID-19 relief money. The plan has just small differences from the version passed in the Senate earlie in the week.

Both chambers seek to give the Department of Transportation $450 million to replace lost gas tax revenue. The House, however, gave $100 million less to rebuilding water and sewer systems. But it also set aside $400 million to expand broadband internet and $100 million to the Office of Resilience to fight flooding and buy land in areas that frequently flood.

In other recent news:

McMaster, S.C. House move toward bigger tax cuts. Another bout of good economic news in South Carolina has Gov. Henry McMaster and S.C. House leaders agreeing to work toward a bigger income tax cut than they originally proposed. More: The State.  Meanwhile, the state Senate is proposing even bigger income tax cuts.

Study shows state’s opioid recovery programs lacking. A new 50-state analysis conducted by the Pew Research Center reported that South Carolina’s opioid recovery programs are significantly lacking mental health services. Only about 18% of statewide programs include mental health treatment services, the study said, a significant factor for people with opioid use disorder.

Protesters against abortion bans gather outside Statehouse. Activists gathered outside of the South Carolina Statehouse on Feb. 17 to protest two bills moving through the S.C. Senate, including one which could impose a total ban on abortions. More: WCSC TV.

S.C. House panel discusses bills curbing speech in classroomsThe House Education Committee discussed five bills Wednesday that would restrict what public school teachers can say and teach in their classrooms — from current events, sexual orientation, gender and politics. Republican Superintendent of Education Molly Spearman warned lawmakers: “This is a dangerous path we may be going down and we’ve got to be very careful.” More: WLTXWSPA.

S.C. House moves forward early voting bill. A group of representatives in the S.C. House on Tuesday tweaked a proposal that would establish no-excuse early voting. The bill is backed by about 50 other Republican House members. The measure would make early in-person voting permanent for two weeks before an election.

Domestic violence cases cost state nearly $360M in 2020, study finds. The cost of domestic violence in South Carolina runs to nearly $1 million a day when you add up the burden put on families, courts, law enforcement and the economy, according to a study by researchers at the University of South Carolina.

Study reveals how much sea could rise in S.C.A new federal report cites recent data on sea level rise for the nation and South Carolina, revealing that the increase could imperil the coast. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration says sea levels are expected to rise up to a foot across the country by 2050, with more pronounced increases along the East Coast.

SEWE (re)turns 40.  Following a year lost to the pandemic and countless setbacks, challenges, hurdles and uncertainties, the Southeastern Wildlife Exposition (SEWE) is roaring towards its 40th year in downtown Charleston. First held in 1983 as a way to share a love of wildlife, art and conservation, SEWE now hosts some 500 artists, exhibitors and wildlife experts and attracts 40,000 attendees to Charleston each year. Click this link below to see a special section on SEWE in the Charleston City Paper. 

S.C. leads the nation in exports of tires, passenger vehicles. The S.C. Department of Commerce’s 2021 International Trade Report, released Monday, found that the Palmetto State has 36.6% of the country’s market share of exported tires and 19.4% of its market share of exported passenger vehicles. That makes the state the top exporter of those two consumer goods. The news comes amid the state’s total exports dropping by 2% in 2021 from 2020’s total.