COLUMBIA -- South Carolina's lawmakers returned to work Tuesday in a session expected to be dominated by reworking state employees' pension plans as well as their pay.
Neither of those issues came up for debate Tuesday, but the state Senate passed a bill setting aside days of honor for both the late President Ronald Reagan and late singer Eartha Kitt.
Sen. Larry Grooms, R-Bonneau, said via Facebook that he opposed the bill "because I believe there is a distinct difference between a cabaret singer and one of the greatest presidents of the United States.
"I fully support recognizing President Regan without having to diminish his great accomplishments by equating them to the actions of a liberal gay rights activist."
One of Tuesday's biggest debates took place in a Senate subcommittee that voted for bills requiring people laid off in South Carolina to pass a drug test to receive unemployment benefits, then volunteer 16 hours weekly with a charity or public agency to keep receiving a check.
If the bills become law, they could run afoul of the federal government just like two signature pieces of legislation passed last year: voter ID and immigration reform.
Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, said it is time to push back. "I can't base how I vote on a bill on what some activist, liberal judge is going to do," he said.
Sen. Paul Campbell, R-Goose Creek, said his bill requiring community service will help people find jobs as they hone their skills by helping cash-strapped city or county governments and schools.
"We're not trying to be derogatory," he said. "We're trying to help them go from the unemployed to employed ranks."
House members voted to sustain Gov. Nikki Haley's veto on legislation that would have created a new Interstate 95 Corridor Authority to help a region of the state formerly branded "the corridor of shame."
State Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, urged her colleagues to overturn the veto, but it was sustained in a vote largely along party lines.