Will South Carolina’s two utility giants get a scare on Halloween?
By next Tuesday, the S.C. House’s “ratepayer protection” committee could decide how state government will respond to the multi-billion dollar failure of the V.C. Summer nuclear plant – and whether South Carolina power customers should be stuck with the bill.
The panel will meet over two days, Oct. 30 and Oct. 31, at the State House to “discuss recommendations for legislation ... that addresses the V.C. Summer nuclear collapse,” according to S.C. House Speaker Jay Lucas’s office.
Lawmakers are expected to discuss options for lowering power rates on customers – still footing the bill for the failed nuclear project – and strengthening regulations that impact SCANA and its state-owned partner on the project, Santee Cooper.
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Lawmakers have argued ratepayers should not be left holding the bag for the unfinished Fairfield County reactors. On Thursday, Gov. Henry McMaster sent a letter to SCANA’s chief executive Kevin Marsh asking the company to stop collecting roughly $37 million a month from customers to pay for the plant and refund money already collected.
Meanwhile, several buyers are weighing whether to buy Santee Cooper from the state. Cayce-based SCANA, a private company, could also be forced into a sale – and grant a $60 million “parachute” to the company’s top executives.
Also upcoming at the State House:
▪ The Senate’s education equity committee will discuss the state teachers’ salary structure at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
▪ A House oversight panel will review a study of the Department of Disabilities and Special Needs at 10 a.m. Tuesday.
▪ A joint state House and Senate panel will discuss sentencing reform at 11 a.m. Wednesday.
▪ A study committee will review laws on recording law enforcement interviews with people who haven’t been arrested at 2 p.m. Wednesday.
▪ A House environmental affairs committee will meet about off-shore drilling at 10 a.m. Thursday.
▪ A joint citizens and legislative committee on children will meet twice Thursday, at 10 a.m. and 5 p.m.
McMaster pledge could end abortions in SC
An anti-abortion group says S.C. Gov. Henry McMaster has signed on to their pledge that “personhood” begins at conception.
Personhood SC announced Tuesday that McMaster has agreed to sign a state Senate bill that would give the unborn the full, legal protections of a person, a move that would effectively overrule the right to an abortion in South Carolina and possibly curb women’s access to some contraception, critics say.
Either likely would be challenged in federal court for interfering with abortion rights.
In August, McMaster issued an order stopping all state payments to any group or physician affiliated with an abortion clinic – even if the money would not be used to pay for an abortion.
That action was protested by Planned Parenthood and other women’s rights groups.
Trump’s ‘top pastor’ could launch challenge of Lindsey Graham
The S.C. preacher once called “Donald Trump’s top pastor” and who admitted to falsifying parts of his professional biography is mulling a challenge to “self-centered” U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-Seneca.
Mark Burns, an Easley pastor who became a regular at Trump’s campaign appearances last year, posted a statement on Twitter thanking the “many Americans” who were encouraging him to challenge South Carolina’s senior senator in 2020 because of the “self-centered actions of Sen. Lindsey Graham.”
Burns also said he is being urged to seek statewide office in 2018, but is “committed to re-electing our great Governor Henry McMaster.”
The pastor tweeted the message along with a link to a donation page.
Burns was a prominent Trump supporter during the 2016 campaign, even delivering a prayer at the Republican National Convention. He was featured in a Time magazine piece that declared him Trump’s “top pastor.”