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COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) -- A bill allowing South Carolina employers to give hiring preference to veterans and spouses of disabled veterans has advanced in the Senate.

The bill advanced Wednesday to the full Senate Judiciary Committee.

A spokeswoman for the state Retail Association says businesses want to support veterans by giving them jobs. But Lisa McGill Sweatman says they need assurances they won't be liable for giving them preference.

Retired Maj. Gen. Abraham Turner says the bill will do more than just extend protection to employers. The former director of the state's unemployment agency says it also honors the service and sacrifice of not only veterans but their spouses.

The House unanimously approved the bill last month.

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