NEWS: S.C. better prepared to weather big storms, experts say

NEWS: S.C. better prepared to weather big storms, experts say

By Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent  |  Four people died and more than a quarter million residences lost power in South Carolina earlier this week as sea levels rose and high winds bellowed in Tropical Storm Irma. The storm’s glancing blow packed a big punch, leaving the state reeling from its fourth natural disaster in four years.

But experts say there is a silver lining to this and previous storms: South Carolina is getting good at dealing with disasters.

“If you look at our state compared to other coastal states, we’re doing a fabulous job,” said Susan Cutter, director of University of South Carolina’s Hazards and Vulnerability Research Institute. “We are becoming quite a hurricane-savvy population. …

by · 09/15/2017 · News
Gov. Henry McMaster, center, presides at an emergency management press conference.

NEWS BRIEFS: On governmental redundancy; VW settlement monies

Staff reports  |  Hurricane briefings by Gov. Henry McMaster featured a slight difference in language that you might have picked up on.

McMaster’s predecessor, Nikki Haley, called for an evacuation of coastal areas around Beaufort and Charleston in October 2016 when Hurricane Matthew was on the way.  The word “mandatory” was not part of the lingo.  In fact when later questioned about whether the evacuation was mandatory or voluntary, she said, “An evacuation is an evacuation.”

The definition of “evacuation” is “the removal of persons or things from an endangered area.” 

Also in News Briefs: Learn about money from a settlement with Volkswagen.

by · 09/14/2017 · News, News briefs
NEWS: Group is pushing to make workplaces more women-friendly

NEWS: Group is pushing to make workplaces more women-friendly

By Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent  |  A new advocacy agency says it has a solution for a looming shortage of workers: make the workplace more woman-friendly to recruit and retain female employees.

But there’s a number of obstacles that keep the state’s existing female population from taking open jobs. The Women’s Rights and Empowerment Network (WREN)  is tackling two hurdles in the General Assembly now by working on a bill to make contraceptives more accessible as well as a legislative proposal that would reasonable accommodations to help pregnant employees stay on the job.

by · 09/07/2017 · News
NEWS:  Governor may issue evacuation order Saturday morning

NEWS:  Governor may issue evacuation order Saturday morning

Staff reports  |  Gov. Henry McMaster today said he may issue an evacuation order Saturday for coastal areas to steer people away from Hurricane Irma, which may bring destructive winds and storm surges Monday that cause major damage to the Palmetto State.

“If you can leave now, go ahead,” the governor said during a news conference televised on SCETV. 

Officials said residents should start feeling the hurricane’s wrath on Sunday night.  If it moves into the state on Monday, the Midlands may get hurricane-force wind gusts and the Upstate may experience tropical storm-force wind gusts.

by · 09/07/2017 · News, News briefs
NEWS: Battle over state’s local government fund may end soon

NEWS: Battle over state’s local government fund may end soon

By Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent  |  A local government group says S.C. counties are willing to lose millions of dollars of state revenue for the sake of certainty as lawmakers are poised to change the way local governments are reimbursed.

Every year since the Great Recession, counties and municipalities have received fewer state dollars, designed to help them pay for state-mandated services, such as providing space for state courts and state agencies. This has led to a lot of bad blood between legislators and local officials.

S.C. House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Rep. W. Brian White, R-Anderson, told Statehouse Report Wednesday that he will form a special committee in coming days to restructure the state’s local government fund.

by · 09/01/2017 · News
BRIEFS:  Merrill resigns seat; Leatherman seeks special session

BRIEFS:  Merrill resigns seat; Leatherman seeks special session

Suspended GOP S.C. Rep. Jim Merrill of Daniel Island resigned from his legislative seat late Thursday before a Friday hearing related to a string of corruption charges he faces, according to published reports. …

Also: S.C. Sen. Pro Tem Hugh Leatherman threw down a gauntlet this week and called on his colleagues to avert “horror of horrors” by releasing state money to replace hundreds of aging school buses prone to catching on fire.

by · 09/01/2017 · News, News briefs, Politics
NEWS: South Carolina sends aid to Texas storm victims

NEWS: South Carolina sends aid to Texas storm victims

UPDATED, 8/31 | South Carolina, no stranger to flooding or storms, has been sending resources to Texas to help victims of Hurricane Harvey.

“People in South Carolina know what it’s like to need help,” said Louise Welch Williams, CEO of the South Carolina region for the American Red Cross.  “I remember sitting in my office in Charleston, South Carolina, and seeing American Red Cross emergency response vehicles come in from across the country and the good feeling that caused – knowing the Red Cross is helping.”

As of Thursday afternoon, South Carolina’s five Red Cross chapters had sent 70 trained volunteers and four emergency response vehicles to Texas. 

by · 08/31/2017 · News, News briefs
Dozens of bouquets lined a sidewalk Thursday outside Emanuel AMC Church in Charleston.  The display board still lists the late Sen. Clementa Pinckney as the church's pastor.

NEWS:  Hate crime bill withers, but some say it’s not needed

By Lindsay Street, Statehouse correspondent  |  A House bill seeking to make it a felony to target another person because of race, religion or sexual orientation is withering in committee and will die unless lawmakers return from recess with an appetite for addressing hate crimes.

Five previous iterations of so-called hate crimes legislation in South Carolina have died in committee since 2009. South Carolina is one of five states in the U.S.  without a hate crimes statute.

Advocates say passage would send a clear message that hate crimes are not tolerated. But detractors say there’s no need for such a statute since hate crimes, regardless of motive, can already be punished through existing laws and judges have sentencing discretion.

by · 08/25/2017 · News