August 2, 2015

Other legislators respond to Majority Leader’s proposal for protest permits at Statehouse

State lawmakers say questions still linger after two rival hate groups held simultaneous tension-filled rallies at the Statehouse on July 18 — as to why state officials let it happen.

Jonathon Brooks of Mooresboro, NC, waves his personal banner in the midst of the Black Educators/New Black Panthers event on July 18 (File)

Jonathon Brooks of Mooresboro, NC, waves his personal banner in the midst of the Black Educators/New Black Panthers event on July 18 (File)

After a joint legislative committee hearing on the matter Tuesday, Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler, R-Cherokee, has pledged to propose legislation next year that would require permits for protests and rallies.

“Common sense is needed in determining the who, when and where for demonstration activity, and I didn’t hear a lot of that in our State House Committee hearing,” Peeler said in a release. “When I hear a 40-year law enforcement veteran say the July 18th rallies were the worst situation he’s ever seen, it’s time to do something.”

The release did not give any specifics on the proposed law, but Peeler had asked the Division of General Services (which oversees the Statehouse grounds) to base their regulations on the U.S. Capitol’s standards.

State Rep. Chip Huggins of Columbia told South Carolina Radio Network he is favor of procedures that would prevent a repeat of the July 18 protests as long as they don’t violate the First Amendment. “It sounds like a pretty good thing to do. That way you know what you’re dealing with and that would help law enforcement I think,” he said. “As long as it is across the board for everyone.”

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Race to replace Horry County legislator headed to runoff

Russell Fry (Image:

Russell Fry (Image:

The election to replace a Surfside Beach legislator who resigned amid sex harassment allegations this spring is down to a runoff.

Relative newcomers Russell Fry and Tyler Servant each got the most votes among the four Republicans running to replace former State Rep. Nelson Hardwick in SC House District 106. The State Election Commission said Fry received 45 percent of the votes to Servant’s 33 percent. They will face off again on August 11.

“What a stunning upset,” Fry posted to his Facebook page. “This was possible because of you, your hard work, and your dedication… Over the next two weeks, we will offer a clear difference in candidates, ideas, and solutions.”

Since there is no Democrat running, the winner in two weeks will almost certainly win the seat. District 106 covers the neighborhoods southwest of Myrtle Beach, including South Strand, Surfside Beach and Garden City.
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Santorum argues American manufacturing rebirth is better for environment

Santorum spoke Tuesday at a "clean coal" energy summit in Columbia

Santorum spoke Tuesday at a “clean coal” energy summit in Columbia

During an appearance at an energy policy forum in Columbia Tuesday, former Pennsylvania senator and Republican presidential candidate Rick Santorum said he believes an American manufacturing renaissance could have positive effects on the environment in addition to the economy.

“The more that we make here, the less global emissions you’re going to have. Whether it’s CO2, ozone, or anything else,” he told reporters after the American Coalition for Clean Coal Electricity event. “If you’re concerned about the global environment, then you want to have more things made here in America and less in China, less in India, and in other countries.”

However, he still criticized new proposed Environmental Protection Agency clean water regulations that he said unreasonably expand the agency’s power to regulate smaller bodies of water. “There’s an appropriate amount of regulation that can lower overall emissions, create a healthier standard, and encourage jobs to come back,” Santorum said. “Then there’s excessive regulations which make it too costly to do business here and with zero environmental health benefits.”

Santorum praised South Carolina’s business recruiting, saying the state has become a “manufacturing juggernaut.” But he expressed worries that federal regulations are holding back further growth. He urged the federal government to consider allowing American companies to export crude oil, which has been banned for nearly 40 years. Santorum said it would both grow the U.S. energy industry and could help Eastern European countries that rely on Russia for their oil.

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Senators seek answers on security after Statehouse rallies

South Carolina lawmakers plan a hearing to ask officials why the Ku Klux Klan and New Black Panthers Party were allowed to hold rallies at the Statehouse at the same time earlier this month.

Troopers try to keep the peace during a rally by opposing groups at the Statehouse July 18th. South Carolina Radio Network photo.

Troopers try to keep the peace during a rally by opposing groups at the Statehouse July 18th. (File)

State Sen. John Courson told The State newspaper the number of officers needed to protect people at the dueling July 18 rallies was the largest police presence he has seen at the capitol in 30 years as a legislator.

The committee will ask representatives of the state Department of Administration, which handles rally permits, and state Bureau of Protective Services, which oversees security on the State House grounds, to testify and answer questions at a hearing Tuesday, Courson and Peeler said. State Law Enforcement Division officials also are expected.

The rallies came a week after the Confederate flag was removed from the front lawn of the Statehouse, a contentious decision.

Five people were arrested, and Richland County Sheriff Leon Lott said the crowd nearly got out of control. Lott said he would like the state to prevent identified hate groups from holding rallies on the Capitol grounds. Allowing KKK and Black Panther Party demonstrations on opposite sides of the State House on the same day was “asking for trouble,” he told the paper.

Courson said he wants to protect free speech rights, but also wants to know why safety isn’t a concern when issuing permits to protest.



Rand Paul calls for VA to reduce medical services, offer vouchers instead

Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul shakes hands after Monday's forum (Image: Jay Harper)

Kentucky U.S. Sen. Rand Paul shakes hands after Monday’s forum (Image: Jay Harper)

Citing long waiting lists for veterans and lack of Veterans Administration facilities in many areas, Kentucky senator and GOP presidential candidate Rand Paul called Monday for the struggling agency to only focus on certain surgical procedures while using vouchers to help patients pay for routine visits and tests at non-government facilities.

Paul’s comments came during a Mount Pleasant forum hosted by the Concerned Veterans for America nonprofit. The senator, who is an ophthalmologist in his private life, said the high demand for treatment is “rationed” through long waiting lists under the single-payer military health insurance system.

“It’s not very efficient and never will be,” Paul told about 300 people in attendance at the Omar Shrine Temple “If we decide we want VA hospitals, let’s keep them for some of the specialized things: for burns, unfortunately for amputations, post-traumatic stress disorder, and some veterans’ needs. But I think for routine care, if you live an hour and a half from the VA and… need a routine colonoscopy, you ought to just be able to get it in your local town.”

He made the comments while talking about issues with the government’s new “Choice Cards.” Congress required the cards after a public outcry over cover-ups on lengthy appointment backlogs at VA clinics. The cards allow a veteran to go outside the VA network for private care if they meet several conditions: including living more than 40 miles from a VA clinic or having a greater than 30-day wait for their care.

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