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Public supports harbor deepening

CHARLESTON, S.C. — The public is telling the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers it wants the Charleston Harbor shipping channel deepened and many people say the work needs to be done as quickly as possible.

That’s the general consensus from dozens of comments received by the corps on just what a $20 million study of the deepening project should include. That study is required before a $300 million deepening can be done on the shipping channel leading to the nation’s fourth-busiest container port.

Port officials want the channel deepened to 50 feet to handle larger container ships that will be calling at the Port of Charleston once the Panama Canal is expanded in two years.

Corps spokeswoman Glenn Jeffries said 80 comments were received from the public in addition to state and federal agencies. The corps will post the comments on their Web site within about 10 days.

Treasurer to stay on investment board

COLUMBIA — South Carolina Treasurer Curtis Loftis will continue to sit on a commission that oversees the $26 billion investment fund for public workers’ pensions after senators voted Wednesday not to remove him, saying they want an elected official on the panel.

The Senate voted 34-10 to kill a proposal requiring the state treasurer to appoint someone in his stead.

The proposed amendment to a government restructuring bill follows Loftis’ complaints that the portfolio has too many alternative investments and pays excessive fees.

Meanwhile, the State Law Enforcement Division is investigating a report that companies were told they could improve their chances of handling state pension investment work if they paid a friend of Loftis, Charleston investor Mallory Factor. Both deny any wrongdoing and claim politics are behind the allegations.

Work on bill to cut agency nears end

COLUMBIA — The South Carolina Senate is close to wrapping up work on a bill that would eliminate the agency that handles much of the state’s bureaucracy and put much of its duties under the governor’s control.

Senators debated late Wednesday on a bill that is a centerpiece of Gov. Nikki Haley’s agenda. They adjourned with a close vote after several previous motions to leave failed.

Senators hope to finish debating the bill today and send it back to the House, which passed its version last year.

– From wire reports

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