In our haste, we overlooked an extremely important passing recently. A dear friend, visionary leader, and philanthropist, Speaker Ramon Schwartz Jr. passed away on June 30 at the age of 92. First elected to the State House in 1968, Schwartz served for 18 years, the final six as Speaker. Outside of politics, Schwartz practiced law in Sumter for an astounding 68 years and served as president of the Sumter County Bar Association. Anyone who was lucky to have spent time with him at the State House, his office across from the courthouse in Sumter, or in church was enriched beyond measure. He loved his family, he loved Sumter, and he loved South Carolina. His wisdom will be missed.
For the past the 14 and a half years, South Carolina’s government has been under complete Republican control. When asked what they seek to accomplish with their power, Republicans most often talk about making South Carolina the best state in the nation for business. They say that if our state gives companies whatever they want, prosperity will follow.
In 2015, then-Governor Haley said, “Any state can say they have the best business climate, but hands down we are the best.” That is an admirable goal that we should all try to achieve. With our resources and people, South Carolina should be the greatest state for business in the world.
But according to CNBC’s newly released “America’s Top States for Business” 2017 rankings, Nikki Haley is wrong: South Carolina not the best state for business; we aren’t even in the top half. Our neighbors in North Carolina and Georgia are in the top 5. And it is even worse when you look at wages, with South Carolina all the way down at #44, because of utter wage stagnation over the past decade. If business is their standard, Republicans are failing.
Looking at the CNBC rankings, the category that weighs us down the most is education, where they have us ranked #40. More than 800,000 South Carolinians are currently in our elementary, middle and high schools, and public colleges. Our schools are critical to recruiting business by providing skilled workers who can do the 21st century jobs that pay well and are secure for our families.
There is no replacement in a strong economy for a state-of-the-art public education system. But in the last decade and a half, Republicans haven’t even tried to fund or reform our public education system that is failing wide swaths of South Carolina’s students.
South Carolinians deserve better. It’s not about who’s right or wrong; it is about starting a new conversation to earn people’s trust, and to elect leaders who will try to create a better South Carolina for every one of us. Our education system is failing too many South Carolina businesses and people—and that should be unacceptable. Republicans haven’t figured that out. They’ve had their chance. South Carolina Democrats have proven time and again we fight for schools, workers and businesses, and we need your help to spread that word.
Richland County Treasurer
As we fight for our health care, our right to vote, and the security of American democracy from foreign interference, we are pleased to highlight a legislator who has been at the forefront of important fights for over a decade: Senator Vincent Sheheen. Senator Sheheen lives in Camden and represents Senate District 27, which includes portions of Kershaw, Chesterfield, and Lancaster Counties.
Vincent Sheheen has served in the State Senate since 2004, after four years of service in the State House. He currently serves on the Agriculture and Natural Resources; Education; Finance; Fish, Game and Forestry; and General Committees. Throughout his tenure in the General Assembly, Senator Sheheen has skillfully advanced important priorities despite being in the minority. He has promoted conservation, improved education, reformed state government, and, most recently, led the effort to include tax relief for working families in the roads bill, spoke out against our personal voter data being given to the federal government, and is advocating an ethics reform overhaul. As the Democratic nominee for governor in 2010 and 2014, Senator Sheheen ran on a platform that would have improved (and would still improve) the lives of South Carolinians throughout our state.
A Camden native, Sheheen earned a B.A. from Clemson and a J.D. from USC. He has previously served as Prosecutor for the City of Camden. He is the son of the late Fred Sheheen, who served as Executive Director of the South Carolina Commission on Higher Education and on the SCDP Executive Committee, and the nephew of former Speaker of the House Robert Sheheen. He and his wife Amy are the parents of three sons.
You can follow Senator Sheheen on Facebook here and on Twitter here. While we wish he was serving his second term as governor, we are very fortunate to have his voice and his skills in the State Senate!
Columbia, SC – South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Trav Robertson released the following statement thanking the South Carolina Election Commission for refusing to provide the personal voter data requested by the Pence-Kobach Commission and condemning South Carolina Republican Party Chair Drew McKissick for announcing that he will personally provide much of the requested information:
“I thank the members of the State Election Commission for refusing to provide South Carolinians’ personal information to the Trump Administration’s sham voter suppression commission, despite the fact that Republicans like Henry McMaster wanted the Election Commission to violate state law for partisan ends. This decision reaffirms the Election Commission’s nonpartisan role in administering our elections fairly, nonpartially, and with integrity. Hopefully the nationwide bipartisan resistance to the Trump Administration’s voter suppression efforts will make them abandon this shameful project.
“However, I am dismayed by the announcement by my Republican counterpart, Drew McKissick, that he plans to provide our personal voter data to the Kobach commission to assist them in finding a pretext for disenfranchisement. The possession of such sensitive information by this disgraceful group endangers our civil liberties, threatens our voting rights, and undermines confidence in our elections. South Carolina Democrats, independents, and Republicans who put country over party will continue to fight so that all eligible South Carolinians can exercise their right to vote, which previous generations sacrificed so much to secure.”
SCDP CHAIR ASKS ELECTION COMMISSION TO FOLLOW STATE LAW AND PROTECT CITIZENS AGAINST FEDERAL OVERREACH
Certainly, the Governor and Attorney General wouldn’t want the federal government to collect data on South Carolinians?
Columbia, SC – South Carolina Democratic Party Chair Trav Robertson is calling on the South Carolina Election Commission to refuse to provide the personal voter data requested by the Pence-Kobach Commission
Established to find a pretext to disenfranchise eligible voters, the Kobach Commission has asked for the private, personal information of South Carolina’s citizens and voters. This is antithetical to the core values of the state of South Carolina.
“Aiding and abetting this attack on our democracy would be wholly detrimental to the general public of South Carolina,” said Robertson, “and providing our voter information free of charge would be a violation of state law. The South Carolina Election Commission has done an exemplary job administering our state’s elections in a fair and impartial manner. For the federal government to second-guess our state election officials is a disgraceful insult to their competence and integrity, and goes against the system of state-administered elections established by the U.S. Constitution. Ultimately, it is up to the Election Commission, and the Governor, to ensure that our private information is protected from this federal overreach.”
The voter information currently available from the Election Commission is only available to registered South Carolina voters and for a fee. Section 30-4-30 of the South Carolina Code of Laws requires that this fee “must be uniform for copies of the same record or document” except “where the agency determines that waiver or reduction of the fee is in the public interest because furnishing the information can be considered as primarily benefiting the general public.” Waiving the fee and registered voter requirement for this specific request would be clearly contrary to the public interest.
If the Election Commission votes to turn over the information to the Kobach Commission, the Governor’s appointees will be actively undermining their ability to run impartial elections here in South Carolina and unnecessarily forcing South Carolinians across the state to question the integrity of our elected officials.
Robertson concluded, “Henry McMaster and Alan Wilson hate ‘federal overreach’ but refuse to stand up for folks in SC when the federal government comes calling. Do these folks not remember the Russian hackers who stole thousands of names from the SC Department of Revenue? Once again, one set of rules and values for the ruling class and another for the people of SC. Republican primary voters will not be so forgiving.”