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Spratt running again despite Parkinson's

COLUMBIA - The U.S. House's top budget writer said Tuesday that he has early stage Parkinson's disease but that the illness is not affecting his life or his plans to continue representing South Carolina in Congress.

Democratic Rep. John Spratt made his illness public as he filed papers to run again for the seat he's held since 1982. The 67-year-old said he needed to resolve rumors that began in earnest as he suffered from an Achilles' tendon injury.

"The symptoms are minor and slowly progressing and really more of a nuisance than anything else, at least at this point," Spratt said in an interview with The Associated Press.

Unemployment agency overhaul becomes law

COLUMBIA - South Carolina Gov. Mark Sanford signed into law Tuesday an overhaul of the Employment Security Commission that puts the troubled unemployment benefits operation in his Cabinet and clamps down on some abuses auditors have cited.

Among other things, the legislation:

- Bars benefits payments for people fired for gross misconduct, including damaging employer property, theft and insubordination

- Requires regular audits for the agency and forces it to provide more updates and details on the trust fund's balance and employment trends

- Increases review of whether people are eligible for benefits and requires instances of fraud to be referred to the attorney general.

Sanford said his staff is reviewing about a dozen résumés for the director job. He said he expects to make a pick within a couple of weeks.


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