News. Brief.: VP Pence to Stump for Graham at Campaign Kickoff

Lindsey Graham

Lindsey Graham

Vice President Mike Pence will visit South Carolina on March 30 as part of the kickoff to U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham’s 2020 campaign. According to The Post and Courier, Pence will stump for Graham at campaign events in Myrtle Beach and Greenville. “Pence will try to energize voters in two Republican strongholds in South Carolina,” the paper notes. “Greenville County has more GOP voters than anywhere else in the state. Horry County, home to fast-growing Myrtle Beach, is attracting a large number of Republican voters coming to live on the coast.” Graham was once an antagonist of President Donald Trump, but has cozied up to the administration of late. — Chris Trainor

Senator Says Medical Marijuana in SC Would Be Heavily Regulated

Republican state Sen. Tom Davis, who has been pushing the legalization of medical marijuana in South Carolina, says he foresees the drug would be regulated from “seed to sale” if it is legalized. As noted by Andrew Brown at The Post and Courier, the much-discussed legalization legislation is getting its first review from a Senate subcommittee. “I want this to be a very socially conservative, very tightly regulated medical cannabis bill that puts medicine in the hands of people who need it,” Davis said, adding, “The optics of this bill matter. We have an opportunity here to be declarative to the people of South Carolina that we are serious about treating this as medicine, that we are serious about this not being abused and we are serious about imposing penalties on individuals who attempt to abuse the system.” The push for medical cannabis legalization has been met with resistance from the state Medical Association and state Attorney General Alan Wilson. — Chris Trainor

S.C. Inmates Mistakenly Let Out of Prison

Ten South Carolina Department of Corrections inmates were mistakenly let out of prison far before their sentences were to have ended. According to The State, the 10 inmates were let go after “an error made in calculating the prisoners’ sentences.” Four of the 10 have not yet been recaptured. As noted by the paper, “SCDC has taken no steps to notify the public at large of the inmates’ accidental release because the department knew the inmates’ locations and was working through the court systems to get them back. The department did, however, contact the victims and notify them when the offenders had been let out of prison.” Most of the prisoners in question had been in jail for drug sentences. Gov. Henry McMaster’s office told The State it was “aware of the issue and is confident that SCDC has done everything possible to resolve the situation.” — Chris Trainor

Flooded-Out Title Loan Building Finally Demolished

One of the lasting reminders of the devastating flood that hit Columbia in October 2015 was demolished on March 18. The bright yellow Auto Money Title Loan building at 700 Crowson Road, just off Devine Street. was taken down by the Columbia Police Department’s code enforcement division. “In purchasing the properties with federal grant funds, the city is required to demolish the structures in accordance with FEMA’s conditions, and return the land to green space in perpetuity,” read a police department release. Since the flood, the back of the Title Loan building has literally been hanging over Gills Creek. The yellow loan building was flooded to its roof on Oct. 5, 2015 after a once-in-1,000-year storm. — Chris Trainor

Federal Lawmakers Call for Carbon Monoxide Detectors in Public Housing

Bills filed in the U.S. House and Senate would require all public housing to have working carbon monoxide detectors. The legislation comes after two men died in separate apartments at Columbia’s Allen Benedict Court, their deaths a result of carbon monoxide poisoning from gas leaks. Authorities evacuated the 411 people who lived at the apartments, and later closed them down. Eleven similar deaths have occurred across the country since 2003, per an NBC News report, but the Department of Housing and Urban Development does not require carbon monoxide detectors. South Carolina’s Joe Cunningham, a new Democrat in the House, co-sponsored the House bill with Illinois Rep. Chuy García, also a Democrat. Cunningham said the Allen Benedict deaths could have been prevented. “Every parent deserves the peace of mind of knowing their children are safe when they tuck them in at night. This bill helps deliver that peace of mind among our most vulnerable by ensuring federally assisted housing units have carbon monoxide detectors,” Cunningham said, per a press release from his office. On the Senate side, U.S. Sen. Kamala Harris filed a similar bill, according to an email from her campaign. The California Democrat is running for president, and has made three trips to early-primary South Carolina since announcing her bid. NBC News says Harris’ office estimates the legislation would cost $10 million over 10 years, which would cover assessment and initial purchase costs. — Eva Moore

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