Bridge project near Congaree National Park gets go-ahead

A federal judge has denied an environmental group’s request to halt work on this bridge on U.S. Highway 601 near the Congaree National Park. The group said that work on the bridge could damage the state’s only national park.

Lawmakers seek immigration law

A handful of South Carolina legislators want an illegal immigration law as tough as Arizona's new rules.

The bill introduced in the House on Thursday requires police to check immigration status of people they stop and who they have reasonable suspicion of being in the country illegally.

It also allows arrests without warrants if the person commits an offense that makes them eligible to be removed from the country and requires federal checks on immigration status.

People with valid driver's licenses or other government-issued ID cards would be presumed to be in the U.S. legally.

It's unlikely the bill will pass. It was introduced on the last day for bills to meet a procedural deadline.

Measures to allow raffles rejected

Churches in South Carolina better think twice before they hold their next raffle or cake walk.

Unbeknownst to many churches and charities, raffles are illegal in the state.

Repeated efforts in the House of Representatives on Thursday to allow churches, schools and charities to hold these fundraisers failed.

Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Daniel Island, and his backers fell short of a two-thirds majority needed to waive a House rule that bills be on the House calendar for a day.

Had the bill gained approval from the General Assembly, it would have appeared as a question on the November ballot. Voters would have ultimately decided whether the raffles should be legalized.

Merrill, the bill's chief sponsor, said he was perplexed by opposition to the measure.

"In the bill, we have defined who can hold raffles very narrowly. Charities are holding them already. I really don't understand what's the problem," Merrill said, adding that the bill prohibits gambling by machine or on live sporting events and requires that at least 90 percent of the money raised go to charity.

Opponents said they fear the bills will lead to outright gambling and note a previous change in the law ushered in video poker, which took 10 years to get rid of.

A House bill to allow friendly in-home games of poker and other games with dice and cards -- such as Bunko or Bridge -- is even further from passage. It never made it to the floor and remains stuck in committee.

Dropouts could lose licenses

Students who drop out of school or habitually skip class would lose their driving privileges until they're 18 under a bill that's received key approval from the House.

Members voted 67-29 on Thursday to approve the bill that would suspend the driver's license of teens who drop out, are expelled or accumulate more than seven unexcused absences.

Public, private and home schools would be required to report the absences of 15- to 17-year-olds to the Department of Motor Vehicles within 14 days. The law would take effect in August 2011.

The bill requires another, perfunctory vote before heading to the Senate. An effort to make that vote automatic today failed.

Lawmakers reject schools chief vote

Legislators have rejected a proposal to let voters decide whether the governor should choose the state's schools chief.

The House fell short Thursday of reaching the two-thirds majority needed to ask voters in November whether the governor should appoint the state superintendent of education. The position is now elected.

After the 72-36 vote, officials said the measure had passed. However, the vote reflected a two-thirds majority of members voting, which was not enough.

A proposed change to the constitution requires a two-thirds House majority.