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Voters overwhelmingly support two changes to state constitution

Author: Matt Long

Source: SC Radio Network

November 6, 2014

South Carolina voters on Tuesday gave their support to a pair of state constitutional amendments. Both must now be ratified by legislators when they return to session in January.

Amendment 1 would create an exemption in the state’s anti-gambling laws to allow charitable raffles. The amendment would allow certain nonprofits to host up to four raffles each year, as long as the proceeds benefitted a charitable cause.

The language puts limits on the raffles. For instance, nonprofits planning to host the raffles must register with the Secretary of State’s office beforehand. The total prize values cannot be more than $250,000 and 90 percent of the proceeds must go towards charity.

Currently the state constitution has strict no-gambling language which technically bans any type of gambling (except the state lottery). The issue flared up eight years ago, when the State Law Enforcement Division ordered the SC Lions Club to halt its motorcycle raffle because it was a violation of state law.

Voters were overwhelmingly in favor of the idea, with 83 percent of ballots cast on Tuesday answering “yes.”

Meanwhile, voters also decided to end public elections of South Carolina’s National Guard chief. Instead, they voted 57 percent to 44 percent in favor of having the position be appointed by the governor. The Adjutant General position has been chosen by voters in the past. But current Adjutant Gen. Bob Livingston said he worried many voters do not understand the office well enough to make an informed decision.

Besides heading up the South Carolina National Guard and Air National Guard, the adjutant general also manages the state’s emergency response office and the reserve SC State Guard. South Carolina is the only state that picks its highest-ranking military officer through a public election.

The amendment passed on Tuesday would also place qualification requirements for the office. Any person chosen for the office must be a two-star general with at least five years’ experience in the Guard and have command experience at the battalion or squadron level.

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