Originally created 02/11/06

Lawmakers push through measures



COLUMBIA - The highlight of the Legislature this week was an 11-hour session in the House on Wednesday that concluded in the passage of systemic property tax changes.

Also, other legislation - from eminent domain to charter schools to self-defense - moves ahead. Gov. Mark Sanford continues his push for tuition caps, and he also has nominated a new commerce secretary.

Here are some of this week's significant votes:

DEADLY FORCE: Without objection Wednesday, the House approved a bill that would authorize the use of deadly force against intruders or attackers in a person's home, business or vehicle.

The bill, which passed 108-0, provides some exceptions, and also would require that the person who uses deadly force is immune from criminal prosecution and civil action, and may not be arrested "unless probable cause exists that the deadly force used was unlawful."

The Senate Judiciary committee next is scheduled to debate the bill.

STATEWIDE CHARTER SCHOOL DISTRICT: The House on Thursday voted to adopt its own version of the bill that would create a statewide charter school district.

A special conference committee, consisting of House and Senate members, now will meet in hopes of reaching agreement on the plan, since the Senate previously passed a different version of the bill.

The key disagreements: how to ensure that existing charter schools can keep their local funding, whether to create a new board to oversee the statewide charter school district, and whether that board should be part of the governor's office or the state Department of Education.

In a statement, Mr. Sanford asked lawmakers to move forward on the legislation quickly.

"This bill continues to be a top priority for us in our efforts to create an educational system that gives parents and students more choices," he said.

EMINENT DOMAIN: Legislation that would ensure local governments cannot seize private land for economic development is moving forward quickly, with little opposition.

On a 37-0 vote Wednesday, the Senate approved a proposed constitutional amendment that, if voters approved, would ban the condemnation of land under eminent domain except for "public use."

South Carolina is among dozens of states considering tightening their eminent domain laws since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last year that local governments could take land for the purpose of economic development by private parties.

A House version of the bill is still at the committee level.

ALSO THIS WEEK: Mr. Sanford nominated Joe Taylor, of Columbia, to replace outgoing Commerce Secretary Bob Faith.

Reach Kirsten Singleton at (803) 414-6611 or kirsten.singleton@morris.com.