Senators set to continue work on education bill while deciding Santee Cooper’s future

Senators set to continue work on education bill while deciding Santee Cooper’s future

COLUMBIA, S.C. (WIS) - Some are worried education overhaul efforts in South Carolina will be slowed down as lawmakers try to figure out what to do with Santee Cooper.

Last week, Senators on the Senate Finance Committee spent the majority of their time in hearings listening to bids to purchase or manage the state-owned utility.

Palmetto State Teachers Association Executive Director Kathy Maness said, “With the Santee Cooper report coming out and a timeline the General Assembly has had to act on that. It has kind of thrown a wrench in whether or not this bill will pass or not pass. At this point, I do not know.”

Last Wednesday, Senators voted down a measure to limit debate on the education reform bill so they can get to a vote sooner. President of the Senate Harvey Peeler (R-Cherokee) put forth the motion. He said, "We've been on S.419 for over five weeks. This calendar is clogged."

The motion failed 20-22.

So far, Senators have taken up more than a hundred amendments on the Senate floor and have debated the bill for weeks. And their work is set to continue this week as the education bill remains on special order.

The Senate Finance Committee held meetings lasting several hours last week. During those meetings, they went over the report from the Department of Administration detailing the three bids for Santee Cooper: one from NextEra Energy to buy the state owned-utility, another from Dominion to manage Santee Cooper, and the third bid a reform plan from Santee Cooper.

The House Ways and Means Committee has begun their hearings this week.

The recommendations from the Senate Finance and House Ways and Means Committees are expected to be sent to the Senate and House floors by mid-March. Education groups like the Palmetto State Teachers Association hope education doesn't get placed on the back burner.

Maness said, “There are a couple good amendments there that we think will help teachers. We got more amendments that should be coming. We’ll see what happens with the education reform bill.”

The Senate Finance Committee is set to listen to testimony from Santee Cooper Tuesday and Wednesday. The House Ways and Means Committee will be meeting with NextEra and Dominion this week.

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