The day after the anniversary of the Sandy Hook school massacre in Newtown, Conn., Palmetto State public-school students of all ages would learn about their right to bear arms in lessons designed by the pro-gun National Rifle Association.
That is, if a bill filed this month by state Rep. Alan Clemmons, R-Horry, becomes law.
Under Clemmons’ proposal, the 2nd Amendment would be for more than just history and civics classes – all S.C. students would spend a period every day for three weeks on the topic. Parents could ask to have their children sit out of the lessons.
The required learning would correspond with a newly designated “Second Amendment Awareness Day” Dec. 15 – the day after gunman Adam Lanza massacred 20 children and six educators at the Sandy Hook school.
On that day, S.C. schools would offer an annual poster-and-essay contest called “The Right to Bear Arms: One American Right Protecting All Others.” Winners would compete statewide in a contest judged by the Legislature’s Sportsmen’s Caucus.
Students would ponder what forefathers meant by “arms” – muskets or AR-15s? They would discuss the constitutionality of gun laws and “the underlying causes of gun violence, including mass shootings.”
The bill also would ban teachers from discouraging or punishing “political, written, or artistic expression that includes references to guns or a militia.”
Rather than home-grow the curriculum, Clemmons’ bill would require the gun-control-fighting National Rifle Association write or recommend the course content.
Clemmons was unavailable late last week for comment.
Haley grows bench on S.C. Chamber
Gov. Nikki Haley has a new ally at the S.C. Chamber of Commerce with the hiring of her former chief of staff, Ted Pitts, as the chamber’s next chief executive and president.
Haley has strong ties to a number of chamber leaders – a change from 2010 when the business association endorsed Democratic state Sen. Vincent Sheheen over the then-unknown state Rep. Haley in the race for governor.
The chamber’s chairman is Haley’s high-school classmate Mikee Johnson. Board member Pamela Lackey, president of AT&T, sits on the board of Haley’s charitable foundation. And former chamber chairman Mike Brenan is Haley’s pick for the S.C. Board of Education.
S.C. Democratic Party chairman Jaime Harrison said he’s “a little concerned about the partisan bent” of the chamber’s leadership. But, he added, he’s not one to judge the new leaders before working with them.
Harrison said he hopes the chamber continues to work with Republicans and Democrats alike to advance economic development in the state, especially along the impoverished I-95 corridor.
Pitts said Friday there is no need to worry.
“Business in South Carolina is of no political party affiliation,” Pitts said, adding the chamber “works with both sides of the aisle. You have your political differences, but we’re going to work together with everybody.”
Pitts said his transition from Haley insider to chamber insider does not mean the governor is still his boss.
“The governor and I will be friends forever,” said Pitts, a Lexington Republican who formerly served in the House alongside Haley.
“But when I worked in the governor’s office, I worked for the governor. When you're in the governor’s office, you're all the way in.
“When you leave, you’re all the way out.”
A statutory slight?
The largest nonprofit administering the state’s first private-school choice program has a new face – and not necessarily by choice.
Jeff Davis is the founder and mastermind behind Palmetto Kids First, one of five nonprofits OK’d by the state to collect donations and give private-school tuition grants to students with disabilities. Donors to the nonprofit qualified for a piece of the $8 million in tax credits the state allowed for the cause this year. (Last year, donors claimed almost $6 million in credits.)
Davis has been the front man and prime mover for Mount Pleasant-based Palmetto Kids despite calling himself a volunteer.
As The State newspaper exclusively reported, Davis had bankruptcy and legal troubles tied to a failed investment deal that disqualified him from serving on Palmetto Kids’ board.
To be safe, Davis stayed off any of the paperwork (even though his wife, Olga Lisinska, is the nonprofit’s director and its address is the same as Davis’ address on court documents).
But now, because of a change in the law passed this summer, Davis’ bankruptcy disqualifies him from fund raising or volunteering for the organization. Lisinska now answers emails. Davis is helping schools and parents, but is hands-off when it comes to the organization, she said.
Lisinska suspects the new prohibition in the law was aimed at her husband.
Even if she’s right, the setback has been insignificant.
The nonprofit has collected more than $11 million of the $14 million in donations tallied thus far in South Carolina for private school tuition.
New digs for the S.C. speaker – Newly elected House Speaker Jay Lucas, R-Darlington, has a new website for the speaker’s office, a new Twitter account and fresh faces assisting him behind-the-scenes. After almost a decade working for House Speaker Bobby Harrell, who recently resigned after pleading guilty to campaign finance abuses, communications director Greg Foster said he is moving on to new opportunities. Harrell’s chief of staff, Brad Wright, an attorney, also is leaving, returning to the private sector. House Clerk Charles Reid is accepting applications for both positions. They are due Dec. 29.
No(t as much) schmoozing at the State House – Lucas pre-filed an anti-schmoozing bill this week that would ban lobbying groups from hosting receptions for the entire General Assembly, or the full House or Senate. Instead, Lucas wants to limit those invites to committees or smaller groups. Lucas said the point of the events – to educate lawmakers – is lost when big groups are invited.
Gowdy not interested in Boehner’s job – U.S. Rep. Trey Gowdy, R-Spartanburg, says he is not interested in running for speaker of the House, The Hill reported. The Tea Party Leadership Fund started a website, draftgowdy.com, to encourage the Benghazi probe chairman to run against Republican Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio. “Rep. Gowdy has said his time and attention will continue to be devoted to the work assigned to him,” Gowdy’s spokeswoman, Amanda Duvall, told The Hill. “He is not interested in any leadership positions and believes one can have influence without the title.”
Staff writers Cassie Cope and Andrew Shain contributed. Reach Self at (803) 771-8658.