politics

Members of the SC House of Representatives spill into the House balcony to insure proper "social distancing" during debate on Thursday, March 19, 2020
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

Like the state as a whole, the Sc General Assembly is being impacted by the coronavirus. The House and Senate held separate, one day sessions this week to approve an emergency appropriation for DHEC to help the public health agency deal with the growing pandemic.

A larger concern on the horizon for state lawmakers however is next year’s state operating budget, and how it might be impacted.

File photo: S.C. House of Representatives chamber
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

The state is on its way to having a record state budget.  The House of Representatives this week approved next year’s state spending package, and for the first time it totals over $10 Billion . 

The state’s soaring population coupled with an exceptionally strong economy is leading to larger than expected tax revenues allowing state lawmakers to approve significant spending increases for programs such as education, public safety, and infrastructure.

Bipartisan group of State Senators discuss final passage of the School Improvement Bill at the Statehouse on March 5, 2020.
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

After two years of work and eight weeks of gridlock on the floor of the State Senate … Senators this week were finally able to pass the sweeping School Improvement Bill. Education Committee Chairman Gregg Hembree called it a long, and arduous journey. The bill aims to improve teacher working conditions, streamline required student testing, and give more authority to the state to deal with local school districts that are failing. The bill now goes to the House which passed a similar bill last year. The two versions will have to be reconciled this spring.

File photo of the S.C. Senate in session
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

The S.C. State Senate this week voted to limit debate on the massive public school improvement bill. Senators have been considering the bill for seven weeks. Senate leaders hope to move to a final vote on the bill next week.

Executives of NextEra Energy appearing before S.C. Senate Finance  Committee on Feb. 19, 2020
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

Next year’s state spending plan is now advancing through the legislature.  This week House budget writers approved a $10 Billion budget package that includes major spending increases in education, roads, public safety, and corrections.

The budget that’s now on the way to the full House of Representatives incorporates almost all of Governor McMaster’s proposals including for the second year in a row significant teacher pay raises.

The FBI Watergate Panel, featuring (left to right) Dr. Melissa Graves, former special agents John Mindermann, John Clynick, Paul Magallanes, Daniel Mahan and Angelo Lano at the Citadel
Cameron Pollack/ The Citadel

They are not household names like the reporters who broke the Watergate story for the Washington Post, Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein. 

But five guys, former special agents who helped the FBI break the case, have quite a story to tell.

They shared it as they reunited for the first time in nearly 50 years at the 2020 Intelligence and Ethics Conference at the Citadel in Charleston in February.

"It was approximately 8 am Saturday, June 17th, 1972," recalled lead investigator Angelo Lano.

ballot box
Tumisu via Pixabay

Note: This story has been amended to remove a reference to Michael Bloomberg setting up operations in South Carolina. Bloomberg is not on the South Carolina ballot.

Democrats are united on one idea. They want to unseat President Donald Trump. But past that, and even with the South Carolina Democratic Primary right around the corner, likely progressive voters are in a street fight between their ideals and who they think stands the best chance of accomplishing their main objective.

For the past several years the issue that’s dominated the state legislature has been the future of Santee Cooper, the state-owned public power utility.  Santee Cooper in effect produces electricity for over two million customers in the state. State lawmakers have been pondering what to do with the utility since the failure of the giant VC Summer nuclear project in the summer of 2017.  Many have concerns about Santee Cooper’s Management, and the almost $7 Billion debt it's now carrying following VC Summer.

University of South Carolina sign
Real Tough, Real Stuff [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0] via Flickr

Four weeks into this year’s session of the state legislature there has been lots of debate, but little movement on several education bills.

The Senate is slowly working its way through the massive School Improvement Bill with no end of debate in sight.

Senators have turned in several late nights debating the bill and it seems the longer its debated, the more complicated some of the issues become.

President Trump's State of the Union Address

Feb 3, 2020
President Donald Trump
whitehouse.gov

President Trump is delivering the 2020 State of the Union address, Tuesday night at 9:00 p. m. South Carolina Public Radio will broadcast NPR's Special Coverage, live. Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer is scheduled to deliver the Democratic Party's response. We will also offer a video stream of NPR's coverage here.

SC Senate in session on January 30, 2020
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

Teacher Bill of Rights Defeated

When the State Senate re-convenes next week it will begin its’ third week of debate on an omnibus School Improvement Bill.  For the past two years it’s been the General Assembly’s first priority.  It aims to update an array of state policies to produce better educated students, and perhaps most importantly shore-up the teaching profession by keeping good teachers in the classroom and to entice new teachers to the profession.

File: Gov. Henry McMaster
Mark Adams/SCETV

For the second year in a row, state lawmakers have the luxury of putting together the state’s budget with millions of additional dollars.

The state’s economy is booming.  More people are working, and tax revenues are way ahead of projections.  For the first time the state’s annual operating budget for next year is expected to exceed $10 Billion.

In his annual State of the State address Wednesday night (Jan 22), Gov. Henry McMaster recommended an ambitious spending plan along with returning a quarter of every new dollar back to taxpayers.

NPR Live Coverage of the House Impeachment Inquiry

Dec 3, 2019
U.S. Capitol building
Liam James Doyle/NPR

Monday, Dec 9, at 9:00 a.m., the House Judiciary Committee will begin a hearing on the impeachment inquiry report completed by the House Intelligence Committee, as it moves toward drafting articles of impeachment. Watch the hearing live beginning at 09:00 a.m.

Live, streamed video below:

On this episode of the South Carolina Lede, host Gavin Jackson is joined by Maayan Schechter, of The State newspaper, and Meg Kinnard, of the Associated Press, to talk about the criminal justice reform summit held at Benedict College that was attended by 10 Democratic candidates as well as President Donald Trump.

File photo of the S.C. Senate in session
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

The next session of the S.C. General Assembly doesn’t convene until January, but Republicans in the State Senate are already working to try and pass a bill that essentially would prohibit abortions in the state.  It’s known as the Fetal Heartbeat Bill.

It won easy passage in the House of Representatives earlier this  year, and Republican Governor Henry McMaster has said if the bill passes he’ll sign it into law.  Because the bill is expected to have a harder time passing in the Senate its' backers are already at work trying to give it a head start in next year’s session.

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