Representatives from South Carolina’s United Methodist Church were set to consider petitions pushing back on the larger denomination’s recently affirmed bans on LGBT clergy and same-sex marriages. As Free Times was going to press, state members of the United Methodist Church were in the midst of a multi-day annual conference. As noted by The State, the governing body of the larger church in February affirmed the denomination’s ban on gay clergy and same-sex marriage. The paper reported that “South Carolina will join annual conferences around the U.S. that have resolutions before them seeking to push back against the February vote. S.C. delegates will discuss petitions urging United Methodist Church leadership to rescind or reconsider its ban.” The United Methodist Church is the second largest Protestant denomination in South Carolina.
McMaster Vetoes $40 Million from State Budget
Gov. Henry McMaster issued his budget vetoes on May 29, slashing some $40 million from the state’s spending plan. As noted by Andrew Brown at The Post and Courier, McMaster “took issue with parts of the budget he believes are equivalent to a blank check. That includes the various grants lawmakers handed out to the S.C. Department of Public Safety and the state Department of Parks, Recreation and Tourism. The governor’s office said the $17 million in grants those agencies received for sports marketing, park revitalization and local law enforcement programs weren’t transparent with the spending. The ultimate beneficiaries of that money, he said, remains obscured from the public.” At the same time, the governor touted issues on which he was aligned with the Legislature, including as teacher pay raises, a $67 million taxpayer rebate, $10 million for school resource officers and $65 million to attract new businesses to the state’s poorest school districts. Lawmakers could overturn the governor’s vetoes, but, Brown reports, State House leaders have said the Legislature may not return until next year.
Star Wars Actor Hamill Weighs in on Senate Race in SC
Jaime Harrison, a Democrat seeking the U.S. Senate seat currently held by Republican Sen. Lindsey Graham, got a boost over the weekend from a galaxy far, far away. Mark Hamill, the actor best known for portraying Luke Skywalker in the Star Wars films, tweeted his support for the South Carolina Democrat. After Harrison tweeted on June 1 that Hamill had “liked” some of his recent tweets, Hamill responded, quote tweeting Harrison and saying, “Dear Jamie [sic] - If you can #SendLindsayHome [sic], I’ll give you a MILLION likes & you’ll be my 2nd favorite Harrison. Your potential new #FanBoy, Mark #FORCEHimOuttaTheSenate.” Hamill’s tweet was liked more than 17,000 times as of June 3. Harrison formally announced his candidacy last week. Democrat Gloria Bromell Tinubu also is seeking the Senate seat held by Graham.
Prisma Names New CEO
Prisma Health, the hospital system that was formed after Columbia’s Palmetto Health and the Upstate’s Greenville Health merged, has named a new CEO. As reported by The Post and Courier, Mark O’Halla, who has been the chief operating officer of a 14-hospital system based out of Michigan, will now head up South Carolina’s largest hospital system. Prisma, which has its executive offices in the Upstate, has 32,000 employees across 18 medical centers. “We believe [O’Halla’s] experience leading a multi-regional health care system will be a critical element in ensuring Prisma Health continues its journey to transform health care for our communities,” Rick Wheeler, chair of the Prisma board, said in a statement. The consolidation of Palmetto Health and Greenville Health into Prisma was completed in January.