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

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.

The South Carolina Senate Chamber
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.

Scott Morgan / South Carolina Public Radio

The 2016 presidential election was, by any account, notable. It was also largely a surprise how it turned out. Regardless of ideology, most people assumed a Hilary Clinton victory, and that perspective was informed by poll after poll that showed her cruising to a comfortable win.

Post-election, a lot of people questioned the validity of polls that said one thing while actual results seemingly showed something entirely different. And, a lot of people still question polls, wondering how valid they are heading into a 2020 presidential election that promises to be, by any account, lively.

Under all this is the key question: Did election polls in 2016 actually get it all wrong?

NPR Special Coverage: Democratic Debate

Jul 30, 2019
Angela Hsieh/NPR

Tonight, 8:00 - 10:00 p.m.

NPR presents special coverage of the Democratic debates. Ten candidates are each making the case that they should be the next president of the United States. Follow NPR's live coverage for real-time fact checks and analysis of their remarks.

Graphic of the U. S. Capitol building
Annette Elizabeth Allen for NPR

Former special counsel Robert Mueller is appearing in two separate hearings before the House judiciary and intelligence committees. Though Mueller has said his report on Russian interference in the 2016 election is his testimony, lawmakers have insisted that he testify in person. Watch the proceedings live.

Wednesday, July 24, beginning at 8:30 a.m.

Sen. Kamala Harris listening to a voter during her Feb. 2019 town hall in Columbia, SC
Thelisha Eaddy/SC Public Radio

The second round of democratic presidential debates is a little over two weeks away. There are over two dozen candidates in the running for the party’s nomination. In South Carolina, voters have been courted by almost all of the candidates, since the beginning of the year.

California senator Kamala Harris has visited the state nine times, most recently in the Pee Dee region, a mostly rural area. During her July 6-7 visit, Harris held at meet-and-greet in Darlington; town halls in Florence and Horry County; and also stopped by an African-American owned business in Marion.

It’s all a part of her campaign’s effort to meet “voters where they're at on the ground in their communities,” said Laphonza Butler, Senior advisor to the Kamala Harris Campaign.

“She has heard from voters all across the country and particularly in South Carolina about issues of the safety of their children; health care and the quality of education.”

Butler has campaigned for Harris in South Carolina, and has been instrumental in shaping the Senator’s campaign team and strategy there; which includes cutting through the dialogue of the crowded field and potential barrier of running against presumed front runners with more name-recognition by talking to as many voters as possible.

“Vice president Biden; everyone knows he was the vice president to President Obama. This is his third time running for president. He has been in office and serving in a place of public service for more than four decades. Senator Warren has done an incredible job, working on behalf of the 99% for decades as well. I think what we’re seeing in early polls is a real curiosity about Senator Harris- people who are inspired by what their hearing but want to hear more.”

Before the June debates, Butler said regardless of poll numbers (at the time) that put Harris trailing former Vice President Joe Biden, Sen. Bernie Sanders and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, the Harris campaign felt like it was in a strong place.

“I think the more people in South Carolina, and folks across the country, get to know who Senator Harris is

and how she thinks about solving everyday problems with government, I think expect those numbers to go up.”

With a viewership of over 18 million, the former state prosecutor challenged fellow candidates on healthcare, race and other topics, during the June 27 live event. Afterwards, poll numbers did go up, according to CNBC:

Harris’ average support jumped to 14.7% on Wednesday, up from 7% on June 25, the day before the two-day debate started. An average of 27.2% of respondents supported Biden as of Wednesday, a drop from 32.1% on June 25.

The second round of democratic debates is two weeks away, where again, millions are expected to tune in.

June 24, 2019

If you want to know what issues voters in South Carolina are concerned about, attending one of the Democratic Party state convention events this past weekend would have been a great place to start.

Thousands of people, who will help reduce the staggering number of democratic presidential hopefuls through the state’s first-in-the-South primary in February, attended Rep. Jim Clyburn's (D-SC) "world famous" fish fry and several meet-and-greets with candidates over the course of the weekend. Through interviews with several of them, South Carolina Public Radio learned their concerns were as diverse as the candidates themselves.