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High court mulls Savannah lawsuit

COLUMBIA — South Carolina Supreme Court justices put a state agency attorney on the defensive Tuesday over whether the state Department of Health and Environmental Control acted illegally when it granted a permit in support of Georgia’s harbor deepening.

Chief Justice Jean Toal said DHEC staff violated the law last fall. She made the assertion during oral arguments of a lawsuit challenging the agency’s authority, which was brought by the Southern Environmental Law Center on behalf of environmental groups. The lawsuit contends the Savannah River Maritime Commission, a panel created by the Legislature in 2007, instead has authority over dredging matters.

Toal also said the DHEC board “rubber-stamped” a settlement that arose from last-minute negotiations between DHEC staff and the Georgia Ports Authority and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, effectively shutting out the Savannah River Maritime Commission.

Ruling might cut more candidates

COLUMBIA — Days before South Carolina’s primary, the state Supreme Court has issued a ruling that means even more candidates could be removed from the state’s ballots.

The justices on Tuesday sided with Florence County Democrats, who sued county Republicans, alleging that the GOP hadn’t abided by an earlier court ruling requiring candidates to simultaneously hand in financial and candidacy paperwork. That ruling had resulted in about 200 candidates being tossed from ballots statewide.

Attorneys contend that that number would have been higher, had all party leaders complied. The court said its ruling applies only to Florence County but warned other counties not to disobey its previous edict.


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