The Senate DSS oversight subcommittee meets today at 9 a.m. to take testimony from mothers and grandmothers about “the shocking number of (child) fatalities in the Midlands,” according to Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland.
One person the committee likely won’t hear from: DSS director Lillian Koller.
Koller took a medical leave of absence recently and has been working from home. But Lourie said the committee needs to hear from her.
“I don’t mean to be insensitive at all. I’m very sensitive to whatever the health challenges that she has. She needs to be given all the time and consideration necessary,” Lourie said. “But if these are decisions that are coming from her, at some point she does need to be held accountable.”
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Lourie has been criticizing DSS since October after at least three children died in Richland County from abuse or neglect after having some sort of contact with DSS.
“There appears to be great concern about the safety of these very vulnerable children and whether they are being reunited with their families too early,” Lourie said.
Since 2009, 312 children have died from abuse or neglect after having had some contact with DSS, according to Laura Hudson, executive director of the South Carolina Crime Victims’ Council. But the numbers have been steadily decreasing, from 73 in 2009 to 63 in 2012.
Some have questioned the timing of Lourie’s inquiry. Koller is an appointee of Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, who is running for reelection in November. Holding these very public hearings – and Lourie says there will be more than one – could damage Haley politically and give Sen. Vincent Sheheen another avenue of attack.
But Lourie dismissed those accusations, pointing out both he and Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington and a Haley ally, requested the hearing.
“We have made it very clear to our respective parties and friends that we don’t want any politics in this, no gubernatorial politics,” he said. “We are on a fact finding mission to see what is going wrong.”
Bobby Harrell: session will go on despite 'smear campaign' + VIDEO
House Speaker Bobby Harrell said Tuesday that legislative business will go on as usual, after the Charleston Republican – arguably the most powerful man in state government – railed against news that ethics allegations against him will be heard by a state grand jury. Read the story, and see video of Harrell's news conference Tuesday here.
RELATED: Gov. Nikki Haley, asked about Harrell, says: “ we’ll watch this play out.”
Dueling protests open legislative session
Supporters and opponents of the federal healthcare law called Obamacare and efforts to expand Medicaid to the working poor flanked the S.C. State House Tuesday as state legislators returned to work. The dueling rallies reflect a similar divide within the State House walls:
Read the full story.
Haley, Sheheen address Bipec
South Carolina’s two candidates for governor spoke to a statewide pro-business group’s annual meeting on Tuesday.
From the story:
Haley went over her successes in the happy, energetic fashion that she gives in most talks. Sheheen, on the other hand, gave a sermon-like speech to the rather stoic audience, saying South Carolina was suffering from a lack of leadership.
Haley to hold Raleigh fundraiser
Gov. Nikki Haley will hold a fundraiser in Raleigh next month, reports WRAL:
The Feb. 3 event will be hosted by Theresa Kostrzewa, a well-known Raleigh lobbyist ranked as one of the most influential practicing around the North Carolina legislature, and her husband, Bruce Tucker. Those who wish to be credited as "hosts" for the event are asked to contribute or raise $3,500. Other attendees are asked for $1,000 per couple.
Jim Hodges keeps in touch with Hilary, Biden, O’Malley
Dave Catanese reports Jim Hodges, the last Democrat to reside in the S.C. Governor’s Mansion, has “had chats with Bill Clinton three times over the past three months” and “Vice President Joe Biden has been regularly in touch.”
From The Run:
But outside the brand names of Clinton and Biden, the customary courtship of Hodges has been largely absent — except for one other politician: Maryland’s Martin O’Malley.
“O’Malley I hear a lot from. He’s very good about staying in touch,” Hodges said during a recent wide-ranging interview with The RUN.
Chip Campsen to battle controversial potato farm
Sammy Fretwell reports that state Sen. Chip Campsen, R-Charleston, is preparing legislation to tighten environmental rules after a potato farm got a permit to withdraw billions of gallons of water from the Edisto river basin:
Campsen said the legislation, which could be filed this week, would apply to any farm corporation or business whose withdrawals would dry up rivers or substantially lower water levels. That, he said, includes Walther Farms, whose potato beds are projected to be on up to 5,000 acres along the South Fork.
Department of Revenue seeking millions after data breach
Andrew Shain reports that the S.C. Department of Revenue is requesting more than $40 million to help safeguard its data system following "the nation's largest data security breach at a state agency." Full story
The S.C. Department of Revenue is working to move forward after the nation’s largest data security breach at a state agency.
The department asked a state budget subcommittee Tuesday for annual funding of security measures for the first time and spend $40.5 million for a new tax processing system over the next four years.
Thomas Ravenel's 'Southern Charm' debuts March
Andrew Shain reports that the former S.C. Treasurer "gets a lot of air time in the new reality TV show's promo for it's March debut Ravenel resigned as treasurer in 2007 after pleading guilty to cocaine charges. From Shain's story:
"I will bitch slap you in a second," he tells one of the other show members on a rainy night.
He also is seen sitting in a doctor's office when he's asked to take a paternity test.
"I think may need something stronger than the tea here," he says when told someone in the cast is pregnant.
Pay up or get off the ballot?
Andrew Shain reports that the idea of requiring S.C. candidates to pay their state ethics fines before they are certified to get on the election ballot was discussed at a budget hearing Tuesday. The S.C. Ethics Commission has about $2.5 million in fines, some more than a decade outstanding.
Lindsey Graham thanks SC's "German friends"
The Spartanburg Herald-Journal reports that U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham made a stop in Spartanburg Monday to promote new economic development ties between South Carolina and Germany. Full story
Riley Institute gets $1 million grant
The Greenville News reports that the Riley Institute -- a public policy organization at Furman University -- has received a $1 million Duke Endowment grant to help the institute establish a permanent endowment. Full story
Lawmakers get free food today from the following groups:
BREAKFAST: Room 112 of the Blatt building, sponsored by the South Carolina Association of Health Underwriters
LUNCH: Room 112 of the Blatt building, sponsored by RecyclonomicsSC
DINNER: Two options: 1) Capital City Club, sponsored by the South Carolina Economic Developers’ Association; 2) Columbia Museum of Art, sponsored by the South Carolina Telecommunications Association.
The House and Senate meet at 2 p.m.
9 a.m.: General DSS Oversight subcommittee, Gressette room 207. Agenda
9 a.m.: Joint Bond Review Committee, Gressette room 308. Agenda
10 a.m.: Conversation with the conservationists, Gressette room 105. Agenda
10 a.m.: Ways and Means Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice subcommittee. Blatt room 305. Agenda.
10 a.m.: Ways and Means Public Education and Special Schools Subcommittee. Blatt room 521. Agenda
10 a.m. Ways and Means Economic Development and Natural Resources subcommittee. Blatt room 426. Agenda
10:30 a.m.: Ways and Means Higher Education, Technical and Cultural Subcommittee. Blatt room 521. Agenda
10:30 a.m.: Ways and Means Legislative, Executive and Local Government subcommittee. Blatt room 511. Agenda
11 a.m.: Ways and Means Transportation and Regulatory subcommittee, Blatt room 501. Agenda.
Upon adjournment: Ways and Means Healthcare subcommittee. Blatt room 108. Agenda
11 a.m.: L.C.I Regulatory Subcommittee, Gressette room 407. Agenda
11 a.m.: Transportation Committee, Gressette room 209. Agenda
Sen. Thomas McElveen, D-Sumter
Sen. Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee, said this to the Bipec meeting:
Rep. Todd Atwater, R-Lexington:
Back in session. Lot's to do - ethics, restructuring, roads etc. but in this Gubernatorial election year it will all be about EDUCATION.— Todd K Atwater (@toddatwater) January 14, 2014
Sen. Greg Gregory, R-Lancaster
ABATE Day reminds me of letter I once got from them requesting $ for member who fell off his bike on way here to protest helmet law.— Greg Gregory (@KlughGregory) January 14, 2014
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