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Lawmakers avoid district testimony

COLUMBIA — Two of South Carolina’s top legislators will not have to testify about their debate over redrawing the state’s U.S. House districts, a federal judge ruled.

U.S. District Judge Patrick Duffy ruled this week that House Speaker Bobby Harrell and Senate President Pro Tem Glenn McConnell don’t have to answer deposition questions about how lawmakers drafted the new maps.

Attorneys for the Charleston Republicans had argued that legislative privilege protected them from testifying about decisions concerning redistricting. Duffy also ruled that the lawmakers don’t have to answer questions about legislators’ discussions with “private consultants or experts.”

Harrell and McConnell are among the defendants in a lawsuit filed last year over new U.S. House district lines, including the new 7th Congressional District along the coast. Six black voters are challenging the plan passed by the GOP-dominated state Legislature, claiming the race-based plan creates “voting apartheid.”

The Justice Department has already said it will not challenge the new layout.

Savannah forbids snakes at festival

SAVANNAH, GA. — Savan­nah leaders are banning the public display of snakes at its St. Patrick’s Day festival.

Pythons and other snakes have been part of the festivities in recent years, and the snake handlers are often mobbed by drunken revelers.

“If it has scales and is cold-blooded, you cannot bring it,” said Marty Johnston, the city’s acting assistant city manager for management services.

Thaddaus Depper, of Exotic Under­world pet store, says people under the influence of alcohol and potentially dangerous animals can be a risky mix. He says he won’t take out a python longer than 7 feet unless he has another employee standing by because of the risk of being encircled and crushed.


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