NEWS SHORTS 

"I am confident we will succeed in forming the national unity government that all Iraqis are hoping for."

Sunni elder statesman Adnan Pachachi last week, after Iraqi Prime Minister Ibrahim al-Jaafari agreed to allow Shiite lawmakers to find someone else to head the new government. So, everything is going to work out in Iraq! Yeah, right.
Columbia Week In Review ·
A bill approved by the Senate last month that would allow some sex offenders to be put to death will head to the House before the legislature adjourns in June. Already supported by Gov. Mark Sanford, the bill requires lifetime electronic monitoring for certain sex offenders and introduces mandatory minimum sentences. On the tax front, the Senate still hasn't reached an agreement on property tax relief, although they have approved a template that would allow counties to increase local sales tax to offset a cut in property tax. Senators will return to the issue on May 2 after tackling the budget this week. A six-member conference committee made up of Senate and House members approved legislation that could establish a statewide charter school district. The bill would allow an individual or nonprofit group seeking to start a charter school to turn to the local school district or the South Carolina Public Charter School District for approval. It also allows for virtual (read: online) charter schools, and for staff at charter schools to join the state retirement system. The bill will return to both the House and the Senate for a two-thirds vote. Beer lovers rejoice! A House committee approved a bill that allows "gourmet beers" with up to 14 percent alcohol-by-volume content to be sold in the state. North Carolina and Georgia have also passed similar legislation in the past few years. The bill will now head to the full House Jud(hic!)iary Committee. —Anna Claire Hodges
Déja Vu, All over again ·
For the third time in over a decade, the Town of James Island is getting ready to fight for its own political independence from the City of Charleston. Thanks to further adjustments of state law completed in this year's General Assembly session, the town recently refiled for self-incorporation with the state, gaining initial approval last week. And just as surely, Charleston Mayor Joseph P. Riley Jr. has vowed to fight the incorporation effort. Former Town Councilman Joe Qualey believes that the public considers the situation "absurd" that James Islanders have been blocked from their own "constitutional freedoms" for the past 14 years. "It's an easy fight because it's the moral high ground; now, we hope it's the legal high ground, too," says Qualey from his home. Responding to Riley's criticisms that the Town won't be able to run itself with "three employees and a $1 million budget," Qualey says, "respectfully, Mayor Riley needs to spend more time on his own budget than ours — we did it before and we'll do it again." Before the battle can really be joined, the "town" has to get a charter from the secretary of state and set up an election commission so it can name a referendum date. —Bill Davis

$75

That was the price last Friday for a barrel of crude oil, an all-time record.

6.9%

That's how much some students at The Citadel could see their tuitions and required fees rise this fall as the result of the increased costs of running the state's military college.

"These House members are good Republicans who've worked hard and have represented their district with solid conservative values. These groups come prepared with misleading names, and they want you to think they represent South Carolina's values. The reality is these organizations come from places like New York and Washington, D.C."

S.C. Speaker of the House Bobby Harrell (R-Chas.) last week, denouncing "out-of-state" political action groups that try to woo voters under cover of a veiled, confusing name. Harrell's comments were not made specifically about South Carolinians for Responsible Government, which is refusing to disclose how much money it's spending in state elections this year, but they might as well have been. Source: The Post and Courier
Now Ink this ·
The ink was still wet on a business permit for a Summerville-area tattoo shop — the first since a state ban was lifted — when Dorchester County Council decided last week it wanted to review its decision to allow tattoo parlors outside of industrial areas. Charles Gramlin, who co-owns Holly's Body Canvas at the corner of Dorchester and Old Trolley roads, vows to work with authorities to keep his shop legal — even though he believes Council can't change the zoning on his business after the fact. "Then again, it's all up in the air right now and anything can happen." —BD

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