State legislators will vote Wednesday afternoon for which judge they want to lead South Carolina’s Supreme Court and the state’s judicial system.
It’s a rare, potentially unprecedented vote for Chief Justice. In South Carolina, the General Assembly selects the position and the incumbent rarely faces a challenge if he or she chooses to run again. Yet a challenge is precisely what current Chief Justice Jean Toal is facing. She is hoping to get an additional two years in the position before she is forced to retire due to reaching the job’s maximum age of 72. A former member of the S.C. House of Representatives, Toal has served on the court 14 years.
She is being challenged by Associate Justice Costa Pleicones. Pleicones, who is currently 69 years old, has said he expected Toal to retire once her current term was up. If he wins the position, Pleicones would be able to serve until he too reaches the maximum age in December 2016.
The race is competitive and both judges believe they have the votes to win. While the justices themselves cannot campaign for votes, their allies in the legislature can do so on their behalf. The lines dividing their supporters are not by party, although Toal enjoys more support among the Republican leadership of the House and Senate while Pleicones pledges are likely to be more conservative Republicans or Democrats.
The legislature has never voted to replace a sitting Chief Justice. It remains to be seen if that will still be the case once Wednesday’s vote finishes. Lawmakers are expecting to begin a little after noon.
House votes to crack down on moped safety
Drivers and passengers riding on mopeds would be required to wear reflective vests under a bill that passed the South Carolina House of Representatives on Tuesday. The bill needs another procedural move Wednesday before it heads to the Senate. The legislation, approved in a 76-40 vote, would also bar the vehicles from highways and roads with a speed limit of 45 miles per hour or higher. Supporters say the requirements make it easier to spot and avoid crashes with mopeds. Opponents question if moped drivers are being singled out.
Progressive groups protest outside Gov. Haley’s office
About 30 people gathered at the Statehouse Tuesday to continue the new progressive movement called “Truthful Tuesday.” The topic of the week was expanding Medicaid eligibility through the federal government’s Affordable Healthcare Act, also known as Obamacare. Several speakers took the lectern, telling their stories of being unable to attain healthcare services or of mounting debt by medical expenses.
Senate committee votes to limit state plane use
The Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday advanced a bill that would ban the use of a state-owned aircraft to bring people to Columbia or elsewhere to testify before legislative committees, The State newspaper reports. Its next stop is the Senate floor. The bill sponsored by Sen. Joel Lourie, D-Richland, and would also require legislators to get permission from either the House Speaker or the Senate President pro tempore before using the plane. It also would require members of state boards and commissions to seek approval from the leaders of their boards first.
Medal of Honor Museum needs money
Organizers of a new museum honoring those who have won the military’s highest award are seeking $11 million in state help. The Associated Press reports the Medal of Honor Museum made the request during a House budget subcommittee hearing on Tuesday. The new proposed Mount Pleasant museum was announced in 2012.
Museum officials are asking the state to contribute $1 million in initial support. They said they also need an additional $2 million per year for five years after that. While the museum is located near Patriots Point Naval Museum in Mount Pleasant, it is actually run by a private entity.