MORNING BUZZ: Haley's popularity on the rise in new Winthrop Poll, Graham kicks into spending mode, and DSS chief to testify

Posted by JAMIE SELF on April 16, 2014 

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley announces her re-election bid outside the Bi-Lo Center in Greenville.

GERRY MELENDEZ — gmelendez@thestate.com Buy Photo

A new Winthrop Poll, released today, shows Gov. Nikki Haley's popularity making gains with 49.8 percent of South Carolinians approving of her job performance -- up from 44.1 percent in a similar poll in October. U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham's popularity ticked up slightly to 42.8 percent from 39.7 percent in a similar poll in October -- within the poll's margin of error. Check back throughout the day for updates on the other poll findings.

Also happening today: Lillian Koller, director of the S.C. Department of Social Services, will testify at 9 a.m. before a state Senate panel investigating claims that the agency missed cases of abuse that led to child deaths (Gressette Building Room 308). ... U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham will participate in the S.C. Chamber of Commerce's Washington Night at the Columbia Marriott at 4 p.m. ... Five of U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham's June primary challengers are expected to participate in a debate hosted by the Aiken Republican Club following a noon luncheon.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham cranked up spending in the election year's first quarter while his challengers still trail in fundraising.

USC seniors now can invite six guests instead of four to their May 9 graduation ceremony at the Colonial Life Arena, where Vice President Joe Biden will deliver the commencement address. Student petitioners saying having family at commencement is more important that the speaker have started a "Bye Joe Biden" petition where, as of Wednesday morning, they had collected more than 1,600 signatures toward their goal of 2,000.

The Freedom From Religion Foundation is calling for Clemson Tigers' football coach Dabo Swinney to stop team prayers, sermons, bible studies and “church days” for players and train staff about their First Amendment obligations.

As Tax Day 2014 came and went, a new McClatchy-Marist poll shows that more than half of Americans think they pay the right amount in taxes.

DHEC says pick up a dead bird and help monitor the spread of West Nile virus, the Greenville News reports.

U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, said in Charleston, dodged questions about a 2016 bid for the White House while on a stop in Charleston on Tuesday, the Post and Courier reported.

Same-sex marriage supporters gathered on Tax Day at the Reformation Lutheran Church in north Columbia to protest the S.C. Department of Revenue requirement for same-sex couples to file their taxes as single, even if they were legally married in another state.

Take me out to the ballgame... Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum (left), a 2016 potential presidential candidate, visited Carolina Stadium during the University of South Carolina baseball game Tuesday night He poses with university lobbyist Trey Walker.

S.C. State House today

Senate meetings

Full body meets at 2 p.m.

• 9 a.m.: Senate General DSS Oversight Subcommittee (Gressette Room 308 / Agenda)

• 9 a.m.: Medical Affairs Subcommittee on H.4223 (Gressette Room 207 / Agenda)

• 9:30 a.m.: Twelfth Judicial Circuit Legislative Delegation (Gressette Room 111)

• 9:30 a.m.: Transportation Subcommittee on S.718 (Gressette Room 406 / Agenda)

• 9:30 a.m.: Finance Committee on H.4701 and H.4702 (Gressette Room 105)

• 11 a.m.: Judiciary Subcommittee on H.4922 (Gressette Room 209 / Agenda)

• 11 a.m.: Judiciary Subcommittee on H.4560 (Gressette Room 408 / Agenda)

• 11 a.m.: Transportation Committee (Gressette Room 207 / Agenda)

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