SC budget would make professors teach more classes

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - College professors would have to spend more time in classrooms and illegal immigrants would spend less time in prison before being deported under temporary law changes a House budget panel approved Tuesday.

College professors should be in the classroom teaching at least nine credit hours each semester because the state is having a tough time paying for college budgets, said state Rep. Murrell Smith, a Republican from Sumter.

"I think we need to have professors in the classroom and not on sabbatical and out researching and doing things to that effect," Smith said.

The committee adopts temporary law changes that would be part of the state's $5.2 billion budget. The full Ways and Means Committee will vote on those next week.

The panel also agreed to send illegal immigrants in South Carolina prisons to federal authorities for deportation in order to save money.

The House subcommittee's measure would take illegal immigrants out of state prisons after they've completed at least a third of their sentence and send them to Immigration and Customs Enforcement if a deportation order has been issued.

Those who returned to the state would have to serve the rest of their sentence without parole.

Federal Bureau of Prisons data shows the state prisons had 574 illegal immigrants in them during the last fiscal year. The 28 institutions had about 23,000 inmates.

And the panel approved a measure that would require colleges to turn over information to local police about students that pose a significant threat to communities. State Rep. Chip Limehouse, a Charleston Republican, pushed the measure after drafting a similar House bill. He says it would help police prevent shootings like that of U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords and 18 others last month in Arizona that killed six people.

Meanwhile, state prison inmates would face an undetermined surcharge on phone calls they make to cover the costs of electronic gear needed to prevent inmates from using contraband cell phones. That gear hasn't been approved by federal regulators, but the measure would allow the Corrections Department to begin raising money for it.

The panel also approved a measure muzzling the State Ethics Commission's staff.

It would bar staffers from discussing investigations until the full commission renders a decision. Smith said that was reaction to comments staff had made about things that could come under investigation that have raised questions about impartiality.

The panel also approved plans to merge the state's Department of Probation and Parole into the state Corrections Department. That's an agenda item for Gov. Nikki Haley and legislators looking for ways to streamline government and possibly save money.

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