Russ McKinney

Santee Cooper's Future Back for Debate at the State House

By Russ McKinney

Santee Cooper signFor 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. The question is so large that last year the legislature passed a special joint resolution...

Lots of Debate But Little Movement on Several Education Bills

By Russ McKinney

University of SC sign. Credit Real Tough, Real Stuff [CC BY-NC-SA 2.0] via FlickrFour 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. A controversial bill that would establish so-called education scholarships is in a Senate committee, and there are bills pending in both the Senate and the House that would re-constitute the Board of...

S.C. Senate Continues Debate on School Improvement Bill

By Russ McKinney

SC Senate in session on January 30, 2020.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. This week the Senate voted to remove the so-called teacher Bill of Rights from the bill, something teachers support and already approved by...

Historic Amount of Improvement to Interstates Over the Past 10 Years, But Much More is Needed

By Russ McKinney

Sign for I-385/I-85 interchangeSouth Carolina’s Interstate Highway system is its’ economic lifeblood. But the state’s dramatic growth, and too many years of too little state funding find the system clogged with congestion in urban areas, and in desperate need of repairs in many rural areas. Over the past ten years, more than $3.5 Billion in road and bridge work has been underway, an historic amount for the state. But as car and truck traffic volumes grow so do the needs. The S. C. Department of Transportation estimates $20 Billion worth of road work is needed for the entire Interstate system. -$14 Billion needed to widen...

Another Cycle of Drought Continues for South Carolina

By Russ McKinney

This 2016 file photo taken on the banks of Lake Hartwell shows the impacts of drought on South Carolina's natural resources.Despite recent rain across the state the drought continues. The U.S. Drought Monitor says that almost half of the state is in what it calls a "severe drought." Leonard Vaughan of the National Weather Service in Columbia says with the exception of coastal counties the rest of the state continues to be very dry. Vaughan says the problem is not just this year’s dry summer and fall, but the repeated cycles of drought South Carolina has been experiencing. Over the past twenty years drought in the state has been significant.

House Impeachment Inquiry - Where South Carolina's U.S. Representatives Stand

By Russ McKinney

The U. S. Capitol BuildingAs the state’s seven U.S. Congressmen return to Washington this week, it’s no secret where each stands on the House impeachment inquiry. The five Republican members are firmly behind President Donald Trump. Sixth District Congressman Jim Clyburn, the third ranking Democrat in the House strongly supports the inquiry. Freshman Democrat Joe Cunningham has yet to take a position.

Abortion Debate Will Return to the Senate in 2020

By Russ McKinney

The South Carolina Senate ChamberThe 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. The fetal heartbeat bill...

Debate on School Improvement Bill to Continue in 2020

By Russ McKinney

Thousands of South Carolina public school teachers descended on the Statehouse on May 1, 2019 With this year’s session of the state legislature now officially over, lawmakers are already turning their attention to next year’s session, and like this year the top priority will be passage of a massive School Improvement Bill.

2019 Session of The SC General Assembly Adjourns - Several Major Bills Still Await Action

By Russ McKinney

The S.C. State HouseIn the final hours of this year’s session of the state legislature, Senate yesterday passed an economic incentives bill aimed at persuading the NFL’s Carolina Panthers to move it's headquarters and practice facilities from Charlotte to Rock Hill. A $250 Million investment for York County. Rock Hill Senator Wes Climer told the Senate it’s a huge win for the state's economy. Senators opposed to the tax credits, including both the Republican and Democratic Senate leaders were concerned that the proposed benefits to the state were too sketchy for the state to approve some $115 Million worth of...

State House Week: Thousands of Teachers Ralley for Education Reform

By Russ McKinney

Teachers and their supporters rally outside the South Carolina State House in Columbia on May 1, 2019Some 10,000 teachers and supporters from across the state descended on the Statehouse this week sending a powerful message to lawmakers that they want more state support in funding and in education reforms, and they are not happy with the school improvement bill pending in the legislature.

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