Across South Carolina

Water company seeks to sharply raise rates


COLUMBIA --- South Carolina regulators say a water and sewer service provider is seeking approval for an 80 percent rate increase.

The Office of Regulatory Staff said Wednesday that Carolina Water Service Inc. wants to raise rates from an average of $36 a month for full-service water customers to more than $65. Typical full-service sewer customers would see a smaller increase of about $5 a month to $44.

Carolina Water Service has more than 7,600 water and 11,000 sewer customers in Aiken, Beaufort, Georgetown, Lexington, Orangeburg, Richland, Sumter, Williamsburg and York counties.

A company spokesman says the rate increase would help recoup $10 million in plant improvements.

2012 candidates court support from Haley

COLUMBIA --- Real estate tycoon Donald Trump has called South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and is serious about a White House bid, the Republican governor said Wednesday.

"Anybody that thinks he's doing this for name recognition -- that's just not true. He's very serious about it, and he's convinced he can win," Haley said.

The governor's endorsement would be important for any 2012 GOP presidential hopeful in this early primary state.

Others with presidential ambitions who have contacted Haley since she took office in January include Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour; Minnesota's former Gov. Tim Pawlenty and U.S. Rep. Michele Bachmann.

Last year, Haley spent time with other possible candidates, including former House Speaker Newt Gingrich, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin.

Haley, who hits her first 100 days in office today, is far from picking a favorite.

"I'll tell you, right now: No one in the field excites me right now," Haley said.

Lawmakers reach deal on voter ID measure

COLUMBIA --- South Carolina voters will need to have photographic identification to vote under a deal reached by a House and Senate conference committee Wednesday.

Three House members signed off on the deal with two of three senators. The House and Senate will decide whether to accept the compromise next week.

Republicans say the bill is about voter integrity. Democrats say it suppresses turnout by minority, disabled and elderly voters who lack a license and they argued educating people on the measure and supplying a free photo ID will be expensive.

Democrats had been willing to go along in exchange for adding a new early voting process in South Carolina. But House Republican insisted that the bill be stripped down to requiring photographic identification.

Senate panel hears debate on Sharia law

COLUMBIA --- Supporters of a proposal barring the state's courts from enforcing foreign law say it's meant to protect women in divorce and custody cases from harsh religious practices.

A Senate Judiciary subcommittee debated the bill Wednesday in terms of hypothetical marriages between Americans and Pakistanis, and foreign women who might flee their spouse to the U.S. Supporters could not point to an actual state case.

Democratic Sen. Brad Hutto of Orangeburg says it's ludicrous to think a South Carolina judge would rule in favor of Islamic religious Sharia law over U.S. law.

Columbia attorney Kevin Hall says he's concerned about military members who marry someone from a country that doesn't abide by international law. But a law expert says the bill is unnecessary and will invite lawsuits.