The 11th week of the legislative session:
JOBS CREDIT: A bill that gives employers tax breaks to spur hiring of unemployed workers in the state has advanced. The Senate Finance Committee unanimously on Tuesday sent a bill to the Senate floor that would give employers tax credits of $1,200 a year for hiring someone drawing unemployment benefits. The proposal would cost the state $94 million in tax collections during the next two fiscal years. Employers would be able to take the $100-per-month credit for two years. Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler said the costs would be offset by the formerly unemployed paying income taxes and coming off the state's unemployment rolls.
RECORDED VOTING: South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley won final approval Thursday for a bill requiring recorded voting in the Legislature, sparking cheers from tea party organizers. The House voted 110-1 to go along with Senate changes on the legislation. After routine ratification next week, Haley will have her signature campaign issue on her desk to sign. The bill heading her way says roll call votes will be taken on every bill on second reading, each section of the state budget as well as when the House and Senate approve compromise versions of legislation. Those requirements were already part of House and Senate operating rules. But Haley argued state law needed to be changed.
LIGHT BULBS: South Carolina legislators made the case Wednesday to keep traditional incandescent light bulbs available to consumers by arguing they keep Rover warm in the doghouse and cakes from grandkids coming out of Easy-Bake Ovens. They debated the Incandescent Light Bulb Freedom Act, a bill that aims to trump a 2007 federal energy law. Manufacturers will phase out making most traditional 100-watt incandescent bulbs in 2012 and they'll phase out 75-, 60- and 40-watt bulbs in 2014. The House delayed more discussion on the bill until Tuesday. The proposal would allow manufacturers to make the bulbs in the state, stamp them "Made in South Carolina" and sell them only in the state.
VOTER RECALL: South Carolina voters could get power to remove officials from office and create laws through ballot box initiatives under legislation a Senate panel discussed Wednesday. Senators delayed action on three bills that would greatly expand the public's power -- and cut into power that now rests mostly with the Legislature. All would require changes to the state's constitution. The petitions to force the removal of a statewide officer would require 15 percent of qualified voters signing to set up a removal vote. Changing the constitution or repealing laws or constitutional amendments would also begin with a petition signed by at least 10 percent of the voters.
TODDLERS DIE- LEGISLATION: Legislators might consider expanding South Carolina's safe haven law to include children up to 3 months old, but a proposal to push it to 3 years has no chance, the chairman of a House panel considering the bill said Thursday. State law currently allows parents to safely abandon infants up to a month old at places such as hospitals and churches, without punishment. Rep. Chip Limehouse proposed increasing the no-penalty age to children up to 3 after an Orangeburg mother confessed last August to suffocating her 2-year-old and 18-month-old sons. Subcommittee chairman Rep. Thad Viers said his panel will consider increasing the age next week to somewhere between 45 days and 90 days old.