A daily review of what’s making news in South Carolina state government.
— President Donald Trump will make his first stop in South Carolina on Friday since his election. The president will visit Boeing’s North Charleston assembly plant as the company rolls out its new 787-10 Dreamliner variant. “Going to Charleston, South Carolina, in order to spend time with Boeing and talk jobs!” Trump tweeted early Friday. The visit comes just two days after Boeing employees voted by a 3-to-1 margin not to unionize.
— Trump is hoping Friday’s visit gets him back on message about job creation and American-based manufacturing, after a week which instead saw the focus on his now-resigned National Security Adviser Michael Flynn and his slamming of the press during a lengthy press conference where he called many reporters “dishonest people.” Some progressive groups are planning protests around his visit, most notably at the North Charleston Coliseum.
— The U.S. Senate on Thursday narrowly confirmed South Carolina’s U.S. Rep. Mick Mulvaney to be President Trump’s new director of the White House Office of Management and Budget. Mulvaney was confirmed in a tight 51-49 vote as all Democrats and one Republican — U.S. Sen. John McCain — voiced concerns over Mulvaney’s history as a deficit hawk. He was sworn in to office by Vice President Mike Pence a few hours later. He is the second South Carolina elected official to take a position in Trump’s administration, following Gov. Nikki Haley’s appointment as United Nations ambassador.
— Mulvaney had to resign his seat in Congress in order to take the job, setting up a special election to replace him this summer. One of the South Carolina House’s most conservative members announced just moments later he would step down from his own post to run for the suddenly-open seat. State Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill, made the announcement from the House floor on Thursday just moments after the vote to confirm Mulvaney. Norman, a real estate developer in his private life, had represented northern York County in the House for a decade.
— The Senate on Thursday unanimously passed a proposal to raise maximum fines for soliciting a prostitute, running a brothel or inducing someone to become a prostitute. If the bill passes, the maximum fine for soliciting a prostitute or operating a brothel would increase to $1,000 from $200 on the first offense, to $3,000 from $1,000 on the second offense and to $5,000 from $3,000 on the third offense. Lead sponsor State Sen. Katrina Shealy, R-Lexington, said her proposal is meant to clamp down on human trafficking in the Palmetto State.
— A new audit into a South Carolina agency that helps finance land conservation and protection efforts criticized the agency for overextending its resources and being inconsistent in how the land it saves is accessible to the public. The Conservation Bank has protected more than 300,000 acres since it was first authorized in 2004, but the audit noted the agency is pledging future grants and funding with money that it does not yet have in its budget. The audit comes as legislators debate whether to renew the bank after its authorization expires in June 2018.
— A state Senate panel will spend this spring studying the issue of medical marijuana and whether to legalize the drug for prescription purposes in South Carolina. Supporters and opponents alike packed a Senate medical affairs subcommittee meeting Thursday to discuss legislation that would allow the use of limited medical marijuana by certain patients. Supporters say it can sometimes provide relief in epilepsy or chronic pain cases that other medicine cannot. Opponents worry about the potential for fraud and black market sales.
— South Carolina’s top in-house government watchdog will leave his position for a job in the state’s disabilities agency. The Greenville News reports State Inspector General Patrick Maley will begin a new job at the state Department of Disabilities and Special Needs next week, the agency’s director announced Thursday at the agency’s regular monthly board meeting. His hiring comes five months after Maley delivered a report about DDSN’s biggest private provider, SC Mentor, recommending major changes after finding that DDSN had frozen admissions to Mentor three times but Mentor continued having staff arrested for abuse or neglect of patients.