- Associated Press - Saturday, May 28, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - New laws in South Carolina extend taxes to cellphones, require students to learn about America’s “founding principles,” and fix a quirk in campaign finance law that has entangled many state officials.

The Legislature has passed dozens of measures in the final weeks of its session, which officially ends Thursday. A few of them:

PHONE CHARGES

Cellphone users will share the cost of phone services for rural customers and people with disabilities under a law Gov. Nikki Haley signed Wednesday.

Starting in January, the state’s 1 million landline customers will pay less as fees extend to 4.5 million cellphones.

The law implements a Public Service Commission ruling in January that requires cellphone companies to pay into the state’s universal service fund. Landline customers have been paying since the Legislature created the fund in 1996 to ensure affordable phone service in rural areas, where it’s costly to extend and maintain lines.

The law caps payments to so-called telephone “carriers of last resort” and requires audits of how the money’s spent.

It also requires cellphone customers to begin contributing toward services for hearing- and speech-impaired residents - a fee not addressed by the commission’s ruling.

Currently, landline customers pay 25 cents monthly to ensure nearly 25,000 disabled customers can communicate by phone, plus nearly 3 percent of their bill for rural landlines. That will change to 6 cents and roughly 2 percent, respectively, applied to all phone bills.

CAMPAIGN DONATIONS

People running for office no longer have to abide by a quirky fundraising restriction if they advance to a primary runoff.

A law Haley signed Wednesday allows candidates to ask donors who maxed out their giving for a primary election to donate the next day for the runoff. Previously, they had to wait a week.

Runoffs are held two weeks after a primary. But under prior state law, the runoff cycle - for donation purposes - began seven days after the primary.

For a statewide race, donors can give up to $3,500 per election cycle.

Before the June 2014 primaries, the South Carolina Ethics Commission issued an opinion reminding candidates about the law and cautioning them not to accept donations that put them over the per-cycle state limit. The seven-day rule is clear, but there’s a perceived inconsistency, the commission wrote in opting not to punish violators from past elections.

Candidates in 2010 who had excessive contributions because of the seven-day rule included Haley and her Democratic foe, state Sen. Vincent Sheheen, as well as Attorney General Alan Wilson and his Democratic opponent.

EDUCATION MANDATES

Public schools must teach the United States’ “founding principles” under legislation Haley signed Thursday.

Its preamble stresses the importance of the Tenth Amendment, which says powers not given to the federal government are given to the states or the people.

“The preservation of our great nation depends on strict adherence to the Tenth Amendment and other principles that protect the states and the people from overzealous acts of all branches of the federal government,” it reads.

The law requires the state Board of Education and Education Oversight Committee to include the “principles that shaped the United States” in classroom standards for social studies. It specifies lessons must include the Federalist Papers, the structure of government, the separation of powers doctrine, and freedoms guaranteed in the Bill of Rights.

State law already required instruction on the “essentials” of the U.S. Constitution, the Declaration of Independence and the Federalist Papers.

Another law signed Thursday requires all literacy coaches and teachers from kindergarten through third grade to undergo training in dyslexia before the school year starts in August.

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