The Buzz

February 10, 2014

MORNING BUZZ: Subcommittee on subcommittees + critical look at teaching evolution

The Buzz

A blog from The State's political team of Cassie Cope, Jamie Self and Andy Shain. Email tips to

Get ready for the subcommittee of all subcommittees.

No, we're serious.

The House Ways and Means Proviso Subcommittee is scheduled to meet Tuesday. It is a subcommittee made up of other subcommittees -- the seven subcommittees that have been taking testimony for the past month about various state agency budget requests.

The first half of the budget is everything you would think a budget would be: lots of numbers. But the second half of the budget is provisos -- or the directions on how to spend the money in the first half of the budget.

The proviso subcommittee's job is to finalize all of these directions before the full budget goes before the House Ways and Means Committee.

Provisos can be silly. Previous ones have required a human being to answer phones at state agencies and have banned the governor from serving junk food at the governor's mansion.

But they can also be serious, like one of the biggest changes in the state's education system this year -- using public money to send special needs children to private schools.

The meeting is at 11:15 a.m. Tuesday in Blatt 521 and will be lived streamed .

Top Clicks

Can Tim Scott attract minority voters to the GOP? : Strom Thurmond’s 1964 switch to the Republican Party helped make the GOP in vogue in South Carolina, prompting white conservatives to flock to the Grand Old Party. Now, U.S. Sen. Tim Scott, the state’s first African-American senator, could help expand the party again, attracting minority voters, some conservatives say. Full story

Nikki Haley fires away Tuesday : The governor announced she will sign the bill that would allow South Carolinians with concealed-weapons permits to carry firearms into bars and restaurants on Tuesday at 10:30 a.m. Full story

Gov. Nikki Haley speaks at a State House bill signing last week.

A first that could be second : If she wins in June’s primary, Meka Childs, a candidate for state superintendent of education, would not be the first African-American woman to receive the GOP nomination for a statewide constitutional office, as her campaign announced last week. A campaign spokesman said the Childs camp did its research, consulting with GOP leaders and historians to find out if Childs would be the first. No other names surfaced. But Senate President Pro Tempore John Courson, R-Richland, recalled one. Full story

No make-up days for school now days? : Who knows how this will change with the winter weather this week, but the senate is expected to take up a resolution the allows school districts across South Carolina to not make up missed days because of last month's snowstorm. The resolution passes in the state House of Representatives last week. Full story

Sen. Alex English? Rep. Darius Rucker, Dabo Swinney or Stephen Colbert? Mayor Vanna White? : With “American Idol” star Clay Aiken deciding to run for Congress in North Carolina, The Buzz wondered what some S.C. celebrities might offer for elected office. Full story

Stephen Colbert

Thinking about evolution and climate change critically

Debate about revising state's K-12 science standards could end Monday. The process of updating the 2005 standards has included whether standards asking students to analyze evolution and climate change should include the adverb "critically." Some scientists have criticized the word for making the concepts controversial.

At last month's state Board of Education meeting, board member Neil Willis of Boiling Brings tried to add "creation by design" to the standards as an alternative theory of evolution. That motion failed. But the state Board of Education approved the standards with word "critically" and returned them to the S.C. Education Oversight Committee, which will consider them at a Monday meeting.

The two boards must approve them before the updated standards take effect. The meeting is at 1 p.m. in 433 Blatt. Read the agenda .

House on furlough

The S.C. House is on furlough this week (not a bad idea considering the wintry weather coming ), though some budget meetings are planned (see above). The House is trying to staying ahead of its budget work after missing a week of sessions with the snow storm a couple of weeks ago. The state Senate will be all here with major finance and judiciary committees scheduled for Tuesday.

Gov. Nikki Haley's public schedule

• 1 p.m.: Attend an economic event, Palmetto Primary Care Physicians in Summerville

State House Clicks

Tussle over paying for SC colleges : South Carolina’s public colleges and Legislature are locked in a fight over how much the state should pay for higher education. Legislators are frustrated the state’s 33 public colleges continue to ask for more money while also raising their tuition rates. Colleges said they have little choice but to raise tuition because the General Assembly cut their state funding during the economic downturn. Full story

Fees considered for hybrid, electric cars : South Carolina lawmakers are considering annual fees, $60 for hybrids and $120 per year for electric vehicles. Across the nation, state legislatures are grasping for ways to collect revenue from alternative fuel vehicles, as purchases of the vehicles go up and gas tax collections go down. Full story

Later gator : Local alligator meat could be the next foodie niche in South Carolina. The Captive Alligator Propagation Act, sponsored by Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, creates the legal framework for someone in South Carolina to set up a farming operation to raise alligators for slaughter for their meat and hide. Full story

Supplying corruption? : South Carolina's ethics debate in recent days hasn't addressed the issue of using campaign dollars for office-related costs, which a watchdog called too broad and tempting for lawmakers. Full story

SC Clicks

The legacy of Jean Toal : S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Jean Toal, re-elected to the state’s top judicial position this week at age 70, remains a powerful mentor to women several generations removed and in fields as diverse as law, advertising and sports. Full story

Jean Toal

Midlands governments work together on roads money : Richland, Lexington and Columbia leaders have joined together to request at least $280 million in state money to improve road access to the airport, make USC safer for students walking to class and eliminate the wait by drivers blocked at downtown railroad crossings. Full story

Putting some ketchup back in Florence's bottle : Florence County will retrieve 74 percent of the $2 million in incentives offered to H.J. Heinz, which announced in November that it is closing its Florence facility. Full story

Who's not winning from lottery scholarships : More than a decade after voters approved a South Carolina lottery pitched as a way to fund free tuition to technical schools and two-year colleges, students still aren’t getting a free ride. Full story

Welcome back to South Carolina : Tourism, which now pumps about $18 billion into the South Carolina economy, has recovered from the Great Recession and has been setting records in recent seasons. And the director of the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism, Duane Parrish, says the trend should continue in 2014. Full story

Getting to know an insurance tax credit : The number of South Carolina homeowners with high insurance costs who have taken advantage of a state tax credit worth up to $1,250 has more than quadrupled. Still, too few seem aware of it. Full story

Election Clicks

Pro-Hillary group though not Hillary herself coming to Columbia : A group tied to top 2016 Democratic prospect Hillary Clinton will hold a fundraiser this month in Columbia. State Rep. Bakari Sellers, a Bamberg Democrat running for lieutenant governor this year, said he will be one of hosts of the fundraiser by Ready for Hillary, a political-action committee pushing for the former First Lady and Secretary of State to run for the White House. Full story

We have a race for secretary of state : Ginny Deerin, a veteran Democratic political operative who managed Charleston Mayor Joe Riley’s most recent re-election campaign, says she is running for secretary of state against incumbent Republican Mark Hammond. Full story

Sheheen visits Spartanburg : Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen showed up at his party’s issues conference in Greenville on Saturday and immediately went after Gov. Nikki Haley on what figures to be one of his top campaign issues. Full story

The fight for the Bulldog vote : The Citadel is known for its military-style education, but it also could find itself being fertile ground in one of this year's highly contested U.S. Senate races. Full story

DC Clicks

Auditing the IRS : Republicans in Congress, including two from South Carolina, are renewing calls for a special prosecutor to investigate the Internal Revenue Service for singling out conservative groups for extra scrutiny in making decisions on tax exemption. Full story

How S.C. is like Russia : Eight states, including South Carolina, limit speech about homosexuality in ways similar to, though not as far-reaching as, the Russian ban that has received international criticism ahead of the Winter Olympics in Sochi, The Washington Post reported. Full story

More tough immigration talks from S.C delegation : House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) "jumped the gun" in pushing immigration reform principles on his conservative conference last week, Rep. Tom Rice of South Carolina said in a TV interview. Full stoy

Poetry instead of a job : Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-Spartanburg, on Sunday said Democrats are pushing poetry as an alternative to holding a job. During an appearance on Fox News, he referred to the results of a report by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) that finds millions of American workers may move away from full-time employment because of benefits offered within ObamaCare. Full story

NC Clicks

S.C. ties to proposed N.C. casino : A South Carolina businessman with long ties to the video poker industry is at the center of the Catawba tribe’s effort to build a casino in North Carolina. The Catawba Indian Nation in September unveiled plans for a casino that could bring 4,000 jobs to a site off Interstate 85 near Kings Mountain, about 30 miles northwest of their reservation in Rock Hill. But the project has faced a backlash from a bipartisan group of elected officials who say they don’t want the casino in North Carolina. Full story

N.C. Dem director dumped : In a controversial move, the chairman of the beleaguered N.C. Democratic Party on Sunday fired his executive director. Executive Director Robert Dempsey’s abrupt ouster is the latest drama to hobble an party plagued by problems in recent years. Full story

N.C. regulators get in the way : Over the last year, environmental groups have tried three times to use the federal Clean Water Act to force Duke Energy to clear out leaky coal ash dumps like the one that ruptured last week, spewing enough toxic sludge into a North Carolina river to fill 73 Olympic-sized pools. Each time, they say, their efforts have been stymied — by the N.C. Department of Environment and Natural Resources. Full story

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