October 7, 2015

Longtime Charleston legislator says he’s leaving next year to focus on businesses

State Rep. Chip Limehouse (File)

State Rep. Chip Limehouse (File)

A longtime Charleston legislator who has represented parts of the peninsula in the South Carolina House of Representatives for more than two decades says next year will be his last.

State Rep. Harry “Chip” Limehouse, R-Charleston, revealed earlier this week that he will not seek reelection in 2016. “It’ll be 22 years at the end of this term and I’ve got several successful businesses that are doing well but needing my support,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “I’ve given it a 110 percent effort for what will be 22 years at the end of this term and I’m just ready to turn the page and go on to whatever the next chapter is in my life.”

The 53-year-old Limehouse held a powerful position on the House budget committee and for years was responsible for overseeing the needs of higher education during the House budgeting process. He was also active in floor debates and sponsored dozens of bills over the year that passed the chamber, including polarizing legislation and less-controversial ones.

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Poll: 2/3 of SC residents say removing Confederate battle flag was right decision

Confederate battle flag on State House grounds in Columbia prior to its removal in July (File)

Confederate battle flag on State House grounds in Columbia prior to its removal in July (File)

A new poll shows that nearly two-thirds of South Carolinians say the legislature made the right decision when they voted to remove the Confederate battle flag from the Statehouse grounds earlier this year.

A Winthrop University poll of more than 960 South Carolinians found that 66 percent said they believed removing the flag was the “right” decision, while 30 percent thought it was the “wrong” one. Only 4 percent of respondents did not have an opinion.

Only a small majority of Republicans supported the move, however, with just over 50 percent saying it was the right call to 45 person against the idea. Democrats overwhelmingly favored removal 83 percent to 12 percent. The disparity was even more evident in racial terms, with 53 percent of white respondents supporting the move to 93 percent of black respondents.

But poll director Scott Huffmon said the views were more complicated than simply supporting or opposing the flag. “In general, most people thought that the legislature did the correct thing,” he said. “But, there were still some people who said, ‘Listen, if I had my personal opinion, my druthers, I’d rather see it continuing to fly.'”

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Monday is deadline for Columbia abortion clinic to avoid suspension

Monday marks the deadline for a Columbia-based Planned Parenthood affiliate to submit a plan that would let it avoid having its license suspended by South Carolina health regulators.

The Planned Parenthood of South Atlantic clinic was one of two abortion clinics issued a suspension order by the state Department of Health and Environmental Control (DHEC) earlier this month. In order to keep their licenses, both Planned Parenthood and the Greenville Women’s Clinic were required to submit a corrective plan and have it approved by September 28.

DHEC said Friday that it had approved the Greenville clinic’s plan and accepted a more than $2,700 fine. An agency spokeswoman said the approval meant the suspension was lifted before it could take effect. The clinic has agreed to future inspections.

The Planned Parenthood clinic suggested it would try to follow suit.

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State Senate panel advances proposed medical marijuana law

State Sen. Tom Davis (Image: SCETV)

State Sen. Tom Davis (Image: SCETV)

A South Carolina Senate panel took the first steps Thursday towards legalizing medical marijuana in South Carolina.

The Medical Affairs subcommittee unanimously advanced a proposal that allows the drug to be prescribed for limited cases in South Carolina. State Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort, is seeking an expansion of a 2014 law that allows an experimental form of medication derived from cannabis to be used for children who suffer from severe epileptic seizures.

“This represents what I think South Carolina is prepared for — a very cautious and tentative step forward,” Davis said during a nearly three-hour hearing Thursday.

The proposal will be taken up by the full Medical Affairs Committee next January.

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#PalmettoPrimary GOP presidential field drops to 15

Walker makes the announcement Monday (Image: Andrew Beckett (WRN)

A daily look at how the presidential candidates of both parties are trying to win the “First in the South” primary

It speaks volumes of the current situation in American politics that three candidates who have never held political office are getting the most buzz among Republicans, while two former GOP governors who touted their economic growth and pro-business records are the first to drop out.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker announced Monday that he would be suspending his campaign for president, slightly more than a week after former Texas governor Rick Perry did the same. Walker’s decision came less than four months before Iowa Republicans head to the early caucuses. Walker had been trailing in the polls, but the timing of his announcement still came as minor surprise to observers who expected him to go further.

“I believe that I am being called to lead by helping to clear the race so that a positive conservative message can rise to the top of the field,” Walker said at a Wisconsin hotel, hinting that he believed the current frontrunner Donald Trump is not a true conservative candidate.

He also said Republicans have lost “an optimistic view of America” held by Ronald Reagan and blamed an overall focus on personal attacks instead of substantive issues.

Walker’s fall in the polls had been constant since Trump entered the race. April surveys had the Wisconsin governor hovering close to first place with around 16 percent support in the crowded field. But that number dropped down into the single digits in August and continued declining.

A CNN/ORC poll released this week showed Walker with just 0.5 percent of the vote. The same poll has Trump at 24 percent, former Hewlett-Packard president Carly Fiorina with 15 percent support, and retired neurosurgeon Ben Carson with 14 percent.

— Junior Kentucky senator Rand Paul picked up a big endorsement Monday– from Congressman Mick Mulvaney. Mulvaney was named a co-chair for the Paul camp’s White House run., according to a statement from his office. Mulvaney is the first federal elected official in South Carolina to formally endorse a candidate in the 2014 cycle, although several state legislators and town leaders have sided with a candidate at this time. Mulvaney is a founding member of the House Freedom Caucus, a group of conservative lawmakers who have clashed with GOP leadership.