House overrides 1st set of Sanford vetoes

South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford

COLUMBIA — The South Carolina House has easily overridden a handful of Gov. Mark Sanford's 69 budget vetoes.

At least two-thirds of House members voted Thursday to resurrect proposals that provide state money for technology projects.

The plan provides a $2.4 million fund for high-speed data networks for Clemson University, the Medical University of South Carolina and the University of South Carolina. It also provides $2.5 million for hydrogen energy research grants.

The House upheld other vetoes in the $7 billion spending that cut money for a tourism program at the College of Charleston, a YMCA youth program, and the South Carolina Student Legislature. The House's budget chairman called for adjournment as he lost those votes.

The House will consider the remaining vetoes Tuesday. The overrides must be approved by two-thirds of the Senate.

In other legislative developments:

--The Ten Commandments and The Lord's Prayer could be posted in South Carolina's public buildings in a display of historical documents under a bill going to the governor.

The House agreed Thursday to changes the Senate made, despite complaints the Pledge of Allegiance was removed from the required documents.

The House approved the bill last year. The Senate added to the list the image of Lady Justice, the Emancipation Proclamation and The Lord's Prayer, even though Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell said adding the prayer would invite a legal challenge.

Rep. Skipper Perry complained the Senate removed the Pledge of Allegiance, but Rep. Greg Delleney said any delay would kill the bill, with lawmakers adjourning June 5.

A spokesman said Sanford is inclined to sign the bill but will study it closely.

--The Legislature gave final approval Thursday to a bill that will ensure state money does not go toward the genocide in the Darfur region of Sudan.

The legislation requires that the state's retirement system divert investments in certain companies that show complicity with the government of Sudan, and prohibits any future investments in such companies.

"Investing public retirement funds in business firms and institutions with ties to the repressive regime in Sudan is inconsistent with the moral and political values of the people of South Carolina," the bill states. It also notes that Congress has declared that genocide is occurring in Darfur.

Specifically, the bill restricts the Retirement System Investment Commission from making investments in companies engaged in business operations, or oil-related activities, that provide revenue to the government of Sudan.

"It is important that our state send a clear and strong message of outrage about the atrocities taking place in Sudan," Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Columbia, the bill's lead sponsor, said in a state- ment. "We have a responsibility to provide both economic and political pressure to do whatever it takes to end this horrific nightmare for the innocent people of Darfur."

The bill now heads to Sanford's desk. If the bill becomes law, South Carolina will become the 25th state to take such action.

--State Democrats say the governor and legislators should give up their state-funded health coverage after they've opposed expanding Medicaid coverage to children and an increase in the cigarette tax.

Sanford vetoed the tax increase and an expansion of the federal-state children's health insurance program in the budget Wednesday.

House Speaker Bobby Harrell said the expanded benefits would create a sense of entitlement that would linger with children as they became adults.

Harrell's spokesman said he wasn't immediately available.

Sanford spokesman Joel Sawyer said Democrats are politicizing a serious issue and the need to keep the Medicaid system solvent enough to pay benefits.