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Legislative Update

Posted by: Jason Zacher on Friday, October 3, 2014
Cooler temperatures mean the action in the South Carolina political scene is heating up. There was a lot of news this week in South Carolina politics, so we’ll get right to it. Opening Statistic – There are only 32 days until the November election! House Speaker’s Race – The race to see who will be the next Speaker of the S.C. House became clear this week. Representatives Jim Merrill (R-Charleston) and Kenny Bingham (R-Lexington) sent a letter to the House throwing their support behind Speaker Pro Tempore Jay Lucas (R-Hartsville). The Upstate didn’t have a serious dog in this fight, following the withdrawal of Chairman Brian White (R-Pendleton) from the race. As the issue of regionalism reared its ugly head again, I will say that I had the privilege of working closely with Rep. Lucas over the past decade. He’s fair-minded, honest, and wants what’s best for our state. He’s a country lawyer and represents everything that is good about that moniker (he’s also a devout Andy Griffith fan, if you ever get a chance to meet him).Rep. Lucas will be an excellent House Speaker, and we should all congratulate him when the vote is taken at the House Reorganizational Session in early December. One final note about Rep. Lucas: This editorial from The State speaks to the incoming Speaker’s opinion on roads and infrastructure. This is one of the most important issues identified by the coalition, and Rep. Lucas has been a champion of DOT reform. Transportation Summit – The Upstate Chamber Coalition will hold our annual Transportation Summit on Thursday, October 30th at CU-ICAR. We’re bringing in Janet Kavinoky, Executive Director of Transportation and Infrastructure for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, leading all of the U.S. Chamber’s strategy, policy, and lobbying on Capitol Hill. We’ll also get an update on air travel from our own Dave Edwards at GSP, hear about the future of transportation from executives at Proterra, hear from SC DOT, and give you an opportunity to ask questions to a panel of state legislators. Click here to register! Ethics Reform – Acting House Speaker Lucas appointed yet another study committee this week, this time focusing on Ethics Reform. A number of Upstate legislators were appointed to the panel, which will be chaired by Rep. Derham Cole, Jr. (R-Spartanburg). Other Upstate members on the committee include Reps. Eddie Tallon (R-Spartanburg) and Mark Willis (R-Fountain Inn). Winthrop Poll – Winthrop University released its latest poll this week. Here are a few highlights:
  • Governor Haley leads Sen. Sheheen 43.6% to 33.6% among likely voters. Petition Candidate Tom Ervin has 3.9%.The poll called Ervin a petition candidate, as will be noted on the ballot. A previous poll called him by the “independent Republican” moniker that he is using, giving him a higher number.
  • Senator Graham topped his race with 46.3% of likely voters, while Democratic challenger Sen. Hutto drew 28%. Petition candidate Thomas Ravenel of Charleston received 8%.
  • Senator Scott holds a wide lead over Democratic challenger Joyce Dickerson (52.4% to 31.8%.
  • The President’s approval rating in South Carolina continues to be lower than the national average at 38.2%. Congress’ approval rating is abysmal, but about the national average, at 12.7%.
  • Of note to our Upstate Chamber Coalition, South Carolina likely voters say the economy is the most important problem facing the United States (17.6%), followed by politicians/government (13.8%) and jobs/unemployment (8.2%).
  • The poll respondents had a little schizophrenia when 58% said the national economy was fairly or very bad, but 61% said the South Carolina economy was good or getting better.
Polls capture a moment in time, and it is dangerous to read too much into them. I’ll write a blog post next week about how to read a poll, but the numbers in this Winthrop Poll are consistent with most of the polling we’ve seen in the past few months. Thank you for your support of the Upstate Chamber Coalition. If I can be of service to your Chamber, please don’t hesitate to email me at jason@greenvillechamber.org.

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