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A South Carolina state senator standing in the way of a tax incentives package for the Carolina Panthers to build a new $150 million complex in the state warned Wednesday that similar promises of economic development from other NFL franchises have failed to come true.

As South Carolina comes to grips with the recent kidnapping and killing of a college student, the case could provide one of the first high-profile tests for the new top prosecutor in Richland County, where experts say convincing juries to sentence someone to death can be more difficult than in other parts of the state.

South Carolina lawmakers advanced a bill Tuesday to allow the Legislature to hire new legal and technical advisers who can negotiate with several investment firms and power companies that are interested in buying Santee Cooper, the state-run utility. 

Duke Energy's two electric utilities in South Carolina want to charge their customers a combined $225 million more per year to cover the cost of infrastructure improvements, new power plants, the environmental cleanup of coal ash and a nuclear project that never got off the ground. 

Free to spend unlimited amounts of money, outside groups dropped more than $6 million last year to influence South Carolina’s elections, promoting their favorite candidates, attacking their political opponents and barraging voters with non-stop ads.

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