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Since Henry McMaster became governor in 2017, the state’s tourism agency has received more than $675,000 from renting the historic Lace House at the Governor’s Mansion complex in downtown Columbia, records show.

But the S.C. Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism (SCPRT)  ) – whose director, Duane Parrish, is a member of McMaster’s Cabinet – won’t reveal who has rented the public building, contending it would be an “unreasonable invasion of privacy” under the state Freedom of Information Act.

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Lately in the news there has been a great deal of controversy over what is being taught in public schools when it comes to Sex Education. There is indeed a disconnect between what Christian Conservative Parents want taught and what Humanist Progressives want taught to their children by the state.

Whose “right” is it to teach a child what they need to know about the birds and the bees? Is it the public schools responsibility to override what a parent wants their child to learn? Things are really getting heated up when it comes to Sex Education. Exactly what is age appropriate learning about sex? Do children in kindergarten need to be learning about sex during their academic day?

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Asphault Paver Machine

Last week, the S.C. Department of Transportation announced that it had completed rebuilding a nine-mile stretch of Interstate 85 in Spartanburg County.

Yet as of Oct. 31, DOT had completed just 17% of the total estimated cost of other identified “pavements” projects in the county with gas-tax-hike revenues, newly released agency records show. Spartanburg County was among at least 25 counties statewide that had completion rates of less than 25% in that category, The Nerve’s latest review found.

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Typewriter Investigation

At least 100 state agencies have filed budget requests for the next fiscal year that begins July 1, online records show.

But the S.C. House and Senate aren’t among them – despite a longstanding state law requiring all agencies to annually file budget requests with the governor by Nov 1. Both the 124-member House and 46-member Senate typically have ignored that law, as The Nerve previously has reported.

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Court Room Gavel

Over the past four fiscal years, the state Attorney General’s Office settled 33 civil cases against various companies for a total of nearly $210 million, though agency records show that the proceeds typically didn’t go directly to affected South Carolina consumers.

Instead, most of the money was used by lawmakers to help cover an annual list of one-time expenses by state agencies, while another $40 million collectively went to the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and outside law firms hired in the cases, a review by The Nerve’s found.

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Pyramids of Egypt

As many as 17 S.C. lawmakers traveled to Egypt last month, most of whom paid their way with campaign funds, State Ethics Commission records show.

Two legislators who used campaign money for the trip – Reps. Todd Rutherford, D-Richland, and John King, D-York – also tapped their campaign accounts for costs related to trips to Greece and Peru, respectively, according to their latest expense statements.

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Piggy Bank 1

As state agencies prepare their proposed fiscal 2020-21 budgets, what they likely won’t reveal is the amount of “other” fund surpluses carried over year after year – collectively billions of dollars.

As of June 30 – the end of the 2018-19 fiscal year – state agencies and divisions, plus several major state funds, had a total of nearly $3.9 billion in other-fund cash balances, according to S.C. Department of Administration records released to The Nerve under the Freedom of Information Act.

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Money

In 2018, University of South Carolina head football coach Will Muschamp received a new six-year deal that paid him $4.2 million in the first year and is worth a total of more than $28 million over the life of the contract.

His total compensation includes $1.1 million in state salary – the highest-paid employee in the state salary database of nearly 23,000 workers receiving at least $50,000 yearly.

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Gavel 2019

Under a new city of Columbia ordinance, “extreme risk” residents who are poor might get a court-appointed lawyer – despite not facing any criminal charges – before they could be ordered by a municipal judge to turn over their guns.

But in South Carolina, the appointment of a public defender even in a criminal case isn’t a guarantee under state law and court rules.

The U.S. Supreme Court in 1963 ruled that criminal defendants who can’t afford a lawyer have a right to a state court-appointed attorney, which S.C. law recognizes. Under state law, the S.C. Supreme Court has the authority to set rules for the appointment of public defenders and court-appointed attorneys.

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SC State Capitol

When in session, S.C. lawmakers routinely introduce legislation dedicating an existing road section, bridge or intersection to a living or deceased person – including ex-legislators.

Their road- and bridge-naming proposals are made through concurrent resolutions, which unlike general bills, can’t be reviewed by the governor.

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Start Turtle

With the start of the third year of the state’s gas-tax-hike law, the S.C. Department of Transportation had completed less than 16% of $711.4 million in identified “pavements” projects statewide, newly released DOT records show.

The Nerve last month revealed that DOT plans to complete about 2,300 miles of road repairs by the end of 2021, though that number represents less than 7% of the approximately 33,600 miles of state roads that the agency says have to be resurfaced or rebuilt.

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SC Streets DOT

Some 37 years after the idea was first proposed, Interstate 73 in South Carolina exists only on paper.

Yet since 2004, the state Department of Transportation has spent at least $77 million on the project – much of it for design costs and land purchases along the proposed route from North Carolina to the Myrtle Beach area, The Nerve found in a review of DOT records.

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Money Everywhere

If the S.C. House of Representatives decided to forgo its entire $22.7 million budget this fiscal year, it could still pay all of its expected bills – with more than $650,000 left over.

That’s because the 124-member chamber carried over nearly $23.4 million in general funds into this fiscal year for its operations, state comptroller general records show. And the legislative body isn’t the only state agency with fat taxpayer-funded reserves, a review by The Nerve found.

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Road Construction Ahead Sign

Members of the State Transportation Infrastructure Bank (STIB) board recently discussed their desire to explore expanding South Carolina’s interstates through the STIB.

While nothing was voted on or confirmed, the ideas floated included finding additional funding streams, “encouraging” the state Department of Transportation to partner with STIB to build interstates, and expanding the STIB’s charter to allow it to circumvent DOT’s priority list and build interstates now.

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Federal probationary sentencing is a complex matter that began in 1908; it has continued to evolve. It’s extensively governed by many sections of the U.S. Code of Law and Policy Statements of the U.S. Sentencing Commission. It’s intended to be a substitute for imprisonment. Federal supervised sentencing is an unrelated system that began in 1984 and is in addition to imprisonment. Federal suspended sentencing was abolished in 1984.

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Columbia, South Carolina. – The South Carolina Republican Party released the following statement regarding the State Executive Committee's decision today to forgo the 2020 GOP Presidential Preference Primary and save South Carolina taxpayers over $1.2 million.

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Mike Scruggs