SC politics: Graham, challengers to meet at Columbia town hall

May 16, 2014 

Graham, challengers to meet at Columbia town hall

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham will meet most of his opponents for the first time in a town-hall meeting, sponsored by the Palmetto Family Council, on May 30 in Columbia.

The Seneca Republican will attend the town hall with five of his six GOP challengers and one of two Democrats candidates. Republican candidates have met several times at various functions across the state without Graham.

A televised ETV debate among Republican Senate candidates is scheduled for June 7, three days before the primary.

Tickets cost $50 for the Palmetto Family town hall at the Booker T. Washington Auditorium on the University of South Carolina campus.

Candidates scheduled to attend are:

Republicans — Det Bowers, Lee Bright, Richard Cash, Bill Connor, Graham and Nancy Mace; Benjamin Dunn was not included in the announcement

Democrats — Jay Stamper; Brad Hutto was not included in the announcement

Haley opposes bill to educate parents on HPV

Legislation seeking to encourage HPV vaccinations of S.C. children advanced Thursday in he state Senate.

However, supporters of the effort to educate parents about the cancer risks posed by the human papillomavirus worry that the stigma surrounding the sexually transmitted disease and opposition by Gov. Nikki Haley and socially conservative legislators will kill the bill’s chances to save lives.

A Medical Affairs Committee on Thursday passed the measure, which would allow but not require the state to publish brochures on the cancer-causing infection.

It also would allow South Carolina to offer free HPV vaccinations to roughly 2,4000 underinsured rising seventh-graders not covered either by private insurance or Medicaid’s federal Vaccines for Children program.

In a joint annual 2013 report, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the National Cancer Institute blamed a recent rise in cervical and throat cancers on the failure to vaccinate children against HPV.

Haley vetoed a similar bill offering HPV vaccines in 2012 despite sponsoring legislation to implement an opt-out vaccination for seventh grade girls when she was a state representative.

Spokesman Doug Mayer said Haley opposes the legislation. “As a mother of a teenage daughter, Governor Haley, like the majority of South Carolinians, believes that health decisions like this are best left up to parents and doctors, not state government.”

Medical affairs chairman Sen. Ray Cleary, R-Georgetown, supports the bill.

In response to allegations that the vaccine would become mandatory, Cleary said, “What part of optional do they not read in the bill? I don’t understand.”

Graham picks up national, state ‘right-to-life’ endorsements

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca, announced backing Thursday of a prominent national right-to-life organization and its S.C. affiliate.

The political action committees for the National Right to Life and S.C. Citizens for Life endorsed Graham, a two-term senator running against six challengers in June’s GOP primary.

Graham introduced a bill this year that would ban abortions after 20 weeks on the assumption that fetuses can feel pain at that time. He also authored the Unborn Victims of Violence Act and co-sponsored a partial-birth abortion ban, both signed into law.

“Senator Graham is a stalwart, go-to lawmaker on right-to-life issues,” said Lisa Van Riper, S.C. Citizens for Life president.

Club for Growth backs Childs in schools’ chief race

The S.C. Club for Growth has endorsed Meka Childs in the race for S.C. superintendent of education.

“Meka believes that just money – without enhanced competition and better policies – won’t help our schools,” the organization said in a statement issued by her campaign.

“She believes that there should be increased accountability in classrooms and at the Department of Education. She supports parents choosing the best education for their child regardless of their economic situation or ZIP code.”

Childs, past deputy superintendent of education and education policy adviser to former Gov. Mark Sanford, is one of eight candidates seeking the GOP nomination for education superintendent in June’s primary.

Bill would provide diploma alternative to GED test

A state Senate panel has advanced a bill giving S.C. residents another option for earning a high school equivalency diploma.

The bill sent to the full Education Committee on Thursday would provide adults seeking a diploma at least one pencil-and-paper alternative to a General Educational Development exam. The GED exam now can be taken only on computer.

State Rep. Joshua Putnam, R-Anderson, says that hinders access in rural parts of the state where technology is lagging. Putnam says it’s also a problem for older adults who don’t feel comfortable with computers. His bill passed the House unanimously two weeks ago.

Andrew Shain, Jamie Self, Cassie Cope and The Associated Press

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