- Associated Press - Wednesday, May 18, 2016

COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) - About $40 million in state aid will soon be heading to South Carolina farmers after the Senate delivered its own sharp rebuke to Gov. Nikki Haley on Wednesday by overriding her veto of a farm aid bill.

The Senate’s 39-3 vote came a day after the House voted 112-2 to reject the governor’s veto. A two-thirds vote was all that was needed.

The vote came after more loud complaints about the governor delivered by lawmakers, who frequently get poked by Haley. Nearly two dozen lawmakers, many of them fellow Republicans, took the governor to task over two days. Legislators said she broke a promise she made during previous, smaller disasters, to have the farmers’ backs.

Some, including Sen. Shane Martin, often side with Haley. But the Republican from Pauline said it was disturbing that Haley would back tens of millions of dollars in incentives for out-of-state companies such as Boeing and Volvo to build plants and reject aid for farmers who grow food, raise children and buy supplies in South Carolina.

“The hypocrisy kills me,” Martin said. “I’m going to be proudly overriding the veto.”

Farmers lost nearly $400 million in last October’s floods, when 24 inches of rain fell in some areas in 12 hours. The water took months to recede, preventing the planting of additional crops, and came after a drought destroyed some other crops during the summer. The back-to-back disasters, combined with low prices for crops, had some farmers saying they were teetering on going under.

In her veto message Monday, Haley said it wasn’t fair for farmers to get help that wasn’t available to all small businesses. She said farmers have crop insurance and federal aid to cover their losses. And she called the bill a bailout, which lawmakers said was a loaded word to make it seem like farmers were moochers.

“It’s not a bailout. It’s a lifeline. And it is sinful we have not done better by them,” said Sen. Luke Rankin, R-Myrtle Beach.

The law allows farmers in disaster-declared counties to apply for grants of up to $100,000 each, covering no more than 20 percent of their total loss. Agriculture Secretary Hugh Weathers said a board to award the grants could be picked by the end of the month.

Farmers were at the Statehouse two days in a row and cheered as the Senate voted was announced.

Sen. Tom Davis voted against the bill. “I don’t think government exists to take money out of some people’s pockets and put it in other people’s pockets, no matter how egregious the circumstances,” the Beaufort Republican said.

Haley issued a statement with a more conciliatory tone after Tuesday’s House vote. She said there were no winners in the massive flood and she would continue to work to make sure everyone in South Carolina is helped during the flood recovery.

The governor’s office did not comment on Wednesday’s vote.

Haley has had four of her past five vetoes overridden, and the Senate voted 39-3 on Wednesday to override a different veto on an eye care bill. That veto now goes to the House, which passed the original bill 100-1.


Follow Jeffrey Collins on Twitter at https://twitter.com/JSCollinsAP. His work can be found at https://bigstory.ap.org/content/jeffrey-collins

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