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Censuring Sanford atop lawmakers' agenda

Lawmakers returning to work this week say the want to quickly deal with an official rebuke of Gov. Mark Sanford for his secret five-day trip to Argentina in June and his use of state aircraft.

The bill, known as a censure, could come up Tuesday, though House Judiciary Committee chairman Jim Harrison, R-Richland, said he hoped to set it for debate on Wednesday. Harrison and other House leaders expected the bill would pass unanimously.

It is unclear if the Senate will deal with the bill. Senate President Glenn McConnell, R-Charleston, said if the body can vote quickly, they will. But just one senator can send the bill to committee.

If that happens, McConnell said, Sanford might not be censured because the Senate calendar is already crowded.

Sanford is still facing 37 ethics charges related to his travel and his use of campaign funds. The Ethics Commission has yet to set a date for a hearing in which Sanford will have the chance to answer the charges. Also, S.C. Attorney General Henry McMaster, a fellow Republican, has yet to say whether any of the 37 ethics charges should also carry criminal charges. Sanford faces up to $74,000 in fines from the Ethics Commission.

Lawmakers have proposed laws as a result of the Sanford trip, including a bill that would outline the transfer of power when the governor leaves the state.

- John O'Connor

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