Staff reports | Our weekly Top Five feature, absent for a few weeks, is back with gusto. It offers big stories or views from the past week with policy and legislative implications.
1. GOP senators thwart efforts to talk about gas tax next week, The Post and Courier, March 29, 2017
Eighteen Republicans of the 26 in the Senate voted against a motion by GOP Senate President Pro Tem Hugh Leatherman to put a road funding bill on the Senate calendar next week. While a motion on the bill passed 23-18, it didn’t have enough votes to be put on special order.
The bill, which will boost gas taxes by 12 cents a gallon, will now be debated after the Senate taxes up the budget and at the end of the session with lots of matters crowd the calendar. Some so-called “renegades” say they’re not opposed to a gas tax, necessarily, but want to change how the state Department of Transportation is governed.
2. GOP candidates may challenge McMaster in 2018, Southern Political Report, March 28, 2017.
This analysis looks at election advantages held by newly-installed Gov. Henry McMaster, but notes that former Lt. Gov. Yancey McGill, a former Democratic senator turned Republican, is running, and former DHEC director Catherine Templeton of Charleston is thinking about it. An excerpt:
“McGill, 63, has significant political muscle in his corner, including the backing of state Sen. Hugh Leatherman (R), state Senate president and chairman of the Senate Finance Committee. McGill raised $329,000 in the 4th quarter, with $150,000 on hand. He reportedly has some heavy-weight GOPers raising money for his campaign.
“On the downside, McGill was a Democrat until last year and doesn’t have the network of county-level GOPers across the state that years in the party can provide.”
3. Senate Dems propose free tuition for technical college, Greenville News, March 21, 2017
This story outlines a proposal by 17 Senate Democrats to offer a newly-proposed S.C. Promise Scholarship to pay tuition and fees for students to attend the state’s 16 technical colleges. Pricetag: $76 million. An excerpt:
“We want to make sure everybody’s got an opportunity to get something beyond a high school education,” said state Sen. Brad Hutto, D-Orangeburg, co-sponsor of the scholarship plan. “Statistically, if you have more than a high school education, you’ll double your earnings over a lifetime.”
4. Beasley appointed to head United Nations food program, Associated Press, March 30, 2017
Former S.C. Gov. David Beasley was appointed by U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres and Jose Graziano da Silva, director-general of the Food and Agriculture Organization, to serve as the head of the largest humanitarian agency fighting world hunger. It helps 80 million people a year across the world. Beasley was recommended by former Gov. and current U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley.
5. How to stop the opioid epidemic, Linette Lopez in Business Insider, March 29, 2017
This article outlines that people trying to solve the drug crisis in Washington should not be blaming “drug cartels” for the problem, but should look somewhere else. An excerpt:
“The problem here isn’t with drug cartels; the problem is big pharma and its multi-decade campaign to normalize the prescription and sale of highly addictive opiate pain medication. It’s usually only after prescriptions for this medication run out, or become too expensive, when addicts turn to cheap heroin. If Trump isn’t going after big business, he’s not going after this problem. Period.”