Here is the status of bills before the South Carolina General Assembly since the April 5-9 sessions:
BLACK MONUMENT: A black Denver artist will design the Statehouse's first monument to blacks, which will be paid for with private funds. Ed Dwight's idea includes an obelisk called the Tower of Freedom and bronze murals describing events in black history. At the front of the monument, an etching of the interior of a slave ship would be flanked by two granite tablets with the names of famous black leaders. The Legislature still must approve the final design.
FOI LAWS: Changes to South Carolina's Freedom of Information Act are headed to the House for approval. The bill, passed by the Judiciary Committee, would require disclosure of job application information about finalists for public positions, restrict closed-door sessions and make public any contracts entered into by public agencies once they have been signed. The bill also would force public bodies to allow people to immediately see meeting minutes or prison logs from the past six months, and police crime reports from the past 14 days.
BLUE CROSS: Blue Cross and Blue Shield of South Carolina could raise up to $100 million to buy and enter new types of businesses under a bill going to a House committee. The bill would let Blue Cross sell stock in subsidiaries while continuing its protection from hostile takeovers. The House Labor, Commerce and Industry Committee is expected to take up the bill. A similar bill has passed the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee and probably will be approved by the full Senate.
JUDICIAL ELECTIONS: Lawmakers set judicial elections for May 6. The Senate had approved a resolution calling for the elections, and the House approved it. Senators previously held up joint elections because they are unhappy with a 200-year-old system that makes their votes equal to those of representatives, who outnumber them nearly 3-to-1. Senators want the system changed to give their votes more weight or to let each chamber vote separately. The May 6 elections will be for 49 positions. Most are judgeships, but also up for grabs are seats on the Public Service Commission, Legislative Audit Council and Consumer Affairs Commission.