SC politics: State closer to getting an official fossil

05/15/2014 12:00 AM

05/14/2014 11:50 PM

S.C. closer to having a state fossil

Olivia McConnell, 8, has had another victory in her attempt to get S.C. lawmakers to designate the Columbian Mammoth as the official state fossil.

The fossil bill passed out of a House-Senate conference committee unamended Wednesday and is headed to Gov. Nikki Haley’s desk for her signature into law.

The bill faced bumps along the way, with Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee, trying to block it in an attempt to end state official “whatevers.”

At another point, Sen. Kevin Bryant, R-Anderson, also had proposed an amendment to the bill to directly acknowledge a religious creator.

However, the bill is headed to the governor in its original form, recognizing that fossilized mammoth teeth that were discovered in a S.C. swamp in 1725.

Panel approves proposed Charleston university

A bill to create a research university within the College of Charleston has advanced in the state Senate.

A higher education subcommittee on Wednesday unanimously approved the measure to establish the University of Charleston as a means of meeting the technical needs of the Lowcountry’s changing economy.

The bill, which passed the House 95-8 last month, also would bar the University of Charleston from duplicating programs already offered in Charleston. A previous version that sought to create the comprehensive research facility by merging the College of Charleston and the Medical University of South Carolina was opposed by MUSC’s board.

College of Charleston president-elect and current Lt. Gov. Glenn McConnell said the University of Charleston offers a platform to offer programs that the college now cannot teach, such as advanced studies in computer science and supply-chain logistics.

McConnell said the research university would be able to collaborate with other universities and businesses. Its creation also would remove the need for a merger, he said.

“It is not my vision to replace the College of Charleston. It is in fact to protect the College of Charleston … as a strong, excellent liberal arts institution,” McConnell said.

Union endorses Democrat Hutto for U.S. Senate

The S.C. AFL-CIO has endorsed state Sen. Brad Hutto’s candidacy for the U.S. Senate seat now held by Republican Lindsey Graham.

“Senator Hutto has always stood up for working families in the State House, and we can’t wait for him to go to Washington where he will continue to stand up for the working men and women not only in S.C. but across this country,” state AFL-CIO president Erin McKee said in a statement.

Hutto, an Orangeburg Democrat, said he was grateful for the organization’s endorsement.

Atwater picks up 5 endorsements

Sally Atwater, one of eight GOP candidates for state superintendent of education, announced Wednesday that her candidacy has been endorsed by five state legislators.

Endorsing Atwater, the widow of late GOP political operative Lee Atwater, were state Sen. Greg Gregory, R-Lancaster, and GOP state Reps. Todd Atwater of Lexington, Nathan Ballentine of Richland, Heather Ammons Crawford of Horry, and Bill Sandifer of Oconee.

“When I drop my kids off at their public school in the morning, I want to know that they will be safe,” Ballentine said in a statement. “Sally clearly understands that concern and has a plan to address school safety.”

Cassie Cope, The Associated Press and staff

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