- Associated Press - Wednesday, June 15, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - South Carolina lawmakers on Wednesday restored most of the money struck by Gov. Nikki Haley’s budget vetoes, though they agreed with her on nixing a study about moving the Confederate Relic Room and Military Museum to Charleston.

The Republican governor vetoed $41 million worth of spending last week from the $7.5 billion state spending plan that takes effect July 1. The Legislature sustained a dozen of her line-item vetoes during Wednesday’s special, one-day session. But most of those struck mandates, not money.

For example, legislators agreed to eliminate a clause directing how grass should be mowed at welcome centers.

They upheld vetoes striking $100,000 for a swimming pool in Richland County and $75,000 to the Human Affairs Commission for community relations councils. They restored funding for various museums, parks and historical sites.

Legislators put the Relic Room study in the budget instead of spending any money to display the Confederate flag that was removed from Statehouse grounds and sent to the Columbia museum last summer following the massacre at Emanuel AME Church.

House budget writers, who balked at a proposed $3.6 million price tag for the flag display and museum expansion, argued the Confederate Relic Room’s current, “hidden” location doesn’t attract enough visitors.

The state’s military history museum, which has artifacts from every war South Carolinians fought in, is located in the back of the State Museum building, through a separate entrance.

The budget clause had required an analysis of available museum space in Charleston and, if sufficient space exists, a cost estimate for moving the Relic Room’s collections there. A report was due by January, when the next legislative session begins.

In her veto message, Haley argued the study was a “veiled attempt to justify” combining the Relic Room and the Confederate submarine H.L. Hunley, which scientists are conserving in a lab in North Charleston. Haley called it nothing more than a legislative pet project.”

Rep. Chip Limehouse, R-Charleston, said Wednesday that’s not true.

“It was an unveiled attempt to save money,” he said of his proposal. “(The museum) loses money hand over fist.”

He called Haley “inconsistent,” noting she vetoed money for other museums on the basis that they should be funded by memberships and admissions, not earmarks.

Nevertheless, he asked his colleagues to sustain the veto.

Senators initially upheld Haley’s veto of a coyote catch-tag-and-release program, but they reconsidered and put it back in the budget.

The coyote bounty program is meant to encourage hunters to kill the predators. Under the program, hunters who kill one of the 16 coyotes tagged by the Department of Natural Resources will receive a lifetime hunting license.

Haley said that didn’t make any sense.

If DNR employees are in range to kill a coyote, she said, they should just “go ahead and get rid of it.”

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