March 6, 2015

President discusses challenges facing young minorities during Columbia visit

Obama, Barack

The president spoke for about 75 minutes at Benedict College in Columbia

A relaxed President Barack Obama spent about an hour answering questions, explaining his positions, and ad-libbing for laughs during a town hall at Benedict College on Friday.

Obama touched on issues ranging from gun violence, to free community college, to the Justice Department’s decision not to press charges against former Ferguson Police office Darren Wilson this week. Friday’s event was billed as a way for the President to interact with students at the historically black Baptist college in Columbia.

The primary focus of the town hall was the challenges facing Millenials, particularly African-American youth. Obama said, as long he’s president, his administration will do everything it can “to help young people achieve their dreams.”

“We can’t do it for you. You’ve got to do it yourselves,” the nation’s 44th president told an estimated 1,100 people in attendance. “But we can give you the tools you need. We can give you a little bit of a helping hand and a sense of possibility and direction.”

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SC Big Story: President Obama in Palmetto State Friday

Gov. Nikki Haley speaks with homeschooled students visiting the Statehouse on Thursday

Gov. Nikki Haley speaks with homeschooled students visiting the Statehouse on Thursday

A roundup of what’s making news in South Carolina state government.

Expect your newsfeed to be filled with updates about President Barack Obama today.

That’s because the president will be in Columbia on Friday for his first visit to South Carolina since winning the Democratic primary here in January 2008.

Obama is scheduled to hold a town hall at Benedict College and take questions from students in primarily minority youth community groups, according to the White House. The event is scheduled to start just after 2:30 p.m. and run for about an hour. It will be Obama’s only public appearance in South Carolina on the trip.

“This town hall that he’s going to do will provide him an opportunity to take questions, especially from students, about what this administration is doing to expand economic opportunity and improve the lives… of young minorities,” Assistant to the President and chair of the My Brother’s Keeper task force Broderick Johnson told South Carolina Radio Network.

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House, Senate taking different approaches to SC State bills

SC House of Representatives (FILE)

SC House of Representatives (FILE)

South Carolina House lawmakers on Thursday fast-tracked a bill that would replace the SC State University board of trustees.

The unanimous vote to withdraw the measure from the Ways & Means Committee came the same day that senators sent over a similar version of the bill. However, a divide does exist between House and Senate about who should choose the new five-member temporary replacement board. House budget writers want the panel to be chosen by the state financial officials, while the Senate wants it to be legislators who make the choices.

But lawmakers are confident the differences can be addressed quickly.

State Rep. Jim Merrill, R-Charleston, has taken the lead on pushing for the House plan, which would have the Budget and Control Board (consisting of the governor, state treasurer, comptroller general, and the House and Senate budget chairmen) choose the new board.

“They sign contracts for the state,” he told South Carolina Radio Network. “It’s time to stop setting up these silly little blue-ribbon committees and start getting at the people who can take action and fix the problem.” He noted the Budget and Control Board was well positioned to hit the ground running, as they are already up to date with the school’s financial situation and approved a $6 million loan for the college last year.

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SC Big Story: Gowdy-led committee issues subpoenas for Clinton emails

Shoes were placed on the Statehouse steps Wednesday to recognize the estimated 1 in 7 South Carolinians who suffer from some form of disability. The event was part of Disabilities Awareness Month

Shoes were placed on the Statehouse steps Wednesday to recognize the estimated 1 in 7 South Carolinians who suffer from some form of disability. The event was part of Disabilities Awareness Month

A roundup of what’s making news in South Carolina state government.

A House committee looking into the State Department’s actions before and after the 2012 attacks in Benghazi, Libya has issued subpoenas seeking the private email records of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

The move came a few days after the New York Times reported Clinton had almost exclusively used her own private email to conduct business during her time in office from 2009 to 2013.

The House Select Committee on Benghazi, led by South Carolina Congressman Trey Gowdy, issued subpoenas Wednesday “for all communications of former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton related to Libya and to the State Department for other individuals who have information pertinent to the investigation,” according to committee spokesman Jamal Ware. “The Committee also has issued preservation letters to internet firms informing them of their legal obligation to protect all relevant documents.”

Gowdy told CNN earlier this week that his committee was aware Clinton used a private email, which is not subject to public open records requests, but did not realize she never had an official government account. “You do not need a law degree to have an understanding of how troubling this is,” he said.

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Judge orders SC State board not to fire suspended president

S.C. State University president Thomas Elzey (Image: The Citadel)

S.C. State University president Thomas Elzey (Image: The Citadel)

A judge has ordered South Carolina State University trustees not to fire suspended President Thomas Elzey.

State Circuit Judge Edgar Dickson on Wednesday agreed with President Elzey’s arguments that he never had a chance to be heard when the board of trustees placed him on administrative leave last month. The judge said it appears the board members are about to be fired themselves by state legislators and Elzey should have the opportunity to argue for his job with whatever body replaces the trustees.

“As the Trustees responsible for making decisions regarding (Elzey’s) employment are about to change and new decision makers will take their places, it is in the public’s best interest to Stay any further action until such change in leadership occurs,” Dickson wrote in his ruling.

State senators on Wednesday gave their approval to a resolution that would replace the SC State board with an entirely new panel appointed directly by legislative leaders and the governor. The 41-1 vote came after two hours of debate about the school’s future. The House is working on a similar plan, although that version would have a state financial board select a CEO for the school, rather than an oversight panel.

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