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COVID relief

  • Federal prosecutors say six people from Washington, Arizona and Texas have been arrested and accused of fraudulently obtaining millions of dollars of COVID-19 aid from an assistance program meant for renters. U.S. Attorney Nick Brown, of the Western District of Washington, announced the arrests Wednesday and charges of wire fraud and money laundering. The six people are accused of filing hundreds of fraudulent applications seeking more than $6.8 million in government aid and receiving more than $3.3 million. Prosecutors allege the scheme also targeted unemployment systems in Washington, California, South Carolina, and Nevada.
  • A federal judge has blocked the U.S. Treasury from enforcing a provision of the American Rescue Plan that prohibited states from using the pandemic relief funds to offset new tax cuts. U.S. District Judge L. Scott Coogler ruled Monday that Congress's exceeded its power under the Constitution in putting the so-called tax mandate on states. Thirteen states had filed a lawsuit in federal court in Alabama challenging the provision of the pandemic relief package. The American Rescue Plan steered $200 billion in relief funds to states but specified that states could not use it as a means to cut taxes and then use the federal relief dollars to offset the revenue reduction.
  • South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster wants to spend the last $17 million of his COVID-19 education relief money to fully pay for anyone to go to a technical college for two years to train to enter high demand jobs. The governor's s senior education advisor and the president of the state's 16 technical colleges spoke to The Associated Press about the plan Tuesday, a day before the announcement. They say if the Legislature pays $124 million of the pandemic relief money it controls, then the program can help up to 15,000 people get training and jobs in areas like health care, manufacturing, IT and construction.
  • South Carolina's governor wants to put $500 million of federal COVID-19 relief money toward fixing and improving water systems across the state. Gov. Henry McMaster announced his idea Thursday and said wants to give priority to rural and smaller systems. He says a modern clean drinking water and sewer system is vital to both citizens and to bring in businesses. The $500 million is part of about $2.4 billion in pandemic relief money that the state can spend.
  • Long delayed evictions are rolling out more than a month after the end of a federal moratorium that had protected tenants, including some who hadn't paid rent for many months because of the coronavirus pandemic. It is far from the tsunami many people predicted, but the lockouts now starting up are nevertheless devastating for families still trying to catch up while the pandemic churns on. Officials say some landlords seem to be holding off on lockouts so they can get repaid with assistance money.
  • South Carolina Gov. Henry McMaster wants lawmakers to set aside $300 million in federal COVID-19 relief money and surplus money to pay for the first segment of a long-desired interstate link between Interstate 95 and Myrtle Beach. The full 60 miles of new freeways and upgrades for I-73 to run from Myrtle Beach to Interstate 95 in Dillon County will cost $1.6 billion. McMaster and other leaders hope by building the first segment, the rest of the road will follow. Environmentalists and some state lawmakers say money for I-73 is better spent on reliving congestion for residents instead of helping tourists.
  • South Carolina Senate President Harvey Peeler has sent a letter to senators canceling the special session set to begin Oct. 12. They were supposed to debate how to spend billions of dollars in federal COVID-19 relief money and redistricting. Peeler says the a subcommittee working on the new state Senate districts won't have the maps ready. And since the House doesn't plan to take up the pandemic money until January, there was no need to pass that bill now.
  • Gov. Henry McMaster and transportation officials say the state should use $360 million of its federal pandemic relief funds to jumpstart the widening of Interstate 26. The state already plans to expand parts of the 70-mile stretch between Columbia and Charleston. But officials say an influx of cash would speed up the process by six years and help save the state money in construction costs. The heavily-trafficked corridor has seen regular accidents and delays as motorists mingle with trucks taking goods to and from the Port of Charleston. Lawmakers will likely decide whether to include the I-26 project in the state's $2.5 billion share of federal COVID-19 money this fall.
  • Small towns in South Carolina are one step closer to getting $435 million in pandemic relief money. The state Department of Administration requested the funds from the federal government last week after a directive from Gov. Henry McMaster. The money is part of the nearly $8.9 billion flowing into the state through the federal American Rescue Plan Act.
  • The Medical University of South Carolina wants lawmakers to give the hospital system $400 million of federal COVID-19 relief money to expand mental health therapy and heart and respiratory treatment across the state. MUSC officials told a Senate panel reviewing how the state should spend the $2.5 billion of federal help that they would partner with other hospital systems so the new programs could help everyone in South Carolina.