King Day, Memorial Day not for school makeup time

Rain runs down the face of the Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial in Washington.

The S.C. House of Representatives passed a bill last week that calls for a mandatory day off during Martin Luther King Jr. Day and Memorial Day.

Introduced by Reps. Todd Atwater, R-Lexington, and John King, D-Rock Hill, the measure is an effort to ensure that South Carolina’s schools honor both their veterans and King’s legacy. Many schools use Memorial Day and MLK Day as weather-related makeup times, which takes children away from events tied to both holidays.

Several House Republicans voted against the bill, among them Rep. Chip Limehouse of Charleston. He stressed his “nay” vote was about flexibility. “I think even Dr. King would like to see children make up snow days and other weather events, even on his special day,” Limehouse said. “I didn’t vote against the holiday, I voted for the flexibility.”

Many of the lawmakers who voted against the bill did so because they believe school districts are better run by locals, and that the General Assembly should not be dictating when schools are opened or closed.

Now Gov. Nikki Haley wants more cooperation in state government on picking up trash. Haley and the Cabinet held a Statehouse news conference last week where she said an agreement between Cabinet agencies will increase litter collections along the roads. Haley has joined a lineup of state figures, including former USC football coach Lou Holtz, in saying South Carolina’s trashy roads hurt the state’s image.

The Department of Corrections reported inmate road crews collected 14,000 bags of litter in the past two weeks, compared with 10,000 bags during January. The agency’s agreement with the transportation and public safety departments also changes how and where trash collection occurs, The Associated Press reported. Inmates will be assigned to pick up trash before mowing teams come in. They’ll also be redirected to blight spots identified by state troopers.

A poll of state voters last week said South Carolinians are “dealing pretty well with” the legalization of gay marriage in the state. The North Carolina-based Public Policy Polling survey said only 31 percent of those surveyed claim legalizing gay marriage has had a negative impact on their lives; 9 percent said it’s had a positive impact; and 60 percent none at all.

“This is consistent with what we’re finding even in states that at one time voted overwhelmingly to ban gay marriage in their constitutions — once it becomes legal few voters are finding it to be much of a burden on their lives,” the pollsters said.

One issue where South Carolinians remain conservative, though, is in flying the Confederate battle flag on the Statehouse grounds. About 50 percent support keeping the flag in view, while 40 percent are opposed.

The results are based on a survey of 868 state voters from Feb. 12-15. Eighty percent of the interviews were by phone and 20 percent over the Internet to reach people who don’t have landline phones. PPP often is described as Democratic-leaning.

The same PPP poll found voters oppose the idea of increasing the nearly 17-cent-per-gallon gas tax, as Haley has proposed, when weighted against legalized gambling. When asked whether they’d rather have road repairs paid for by casinos, voters picked gambling by a 58 percent to 26 percent margin, according to the poll.

Pollsters said the casino support was bipartisan, something Democrats pounced on. “It is now crystal clear that the taxpayers of South Carolina want nothing to do with Gov. Haley’s proposed tax hike,” said House Democratic Leader Todd Rutherford, who supports allowing casinos in the state.

“Gov. Haley and the Republican leadership in the General Assembly should listen to the people of South Carolina and drop their plan to raise taxes when there is a practical, free market alternative for fixing our roads,” he said.

Haley is one of 50 governors invited to the White House tonight for dinner with President Barack Obama.

Haley is in Washington for the Republican Governors Association’s Winter Meeting. The Democratic governors are meeting there this week as well, and so is the National Governors Association.

Republican governors scored a legal victory versus the Obama administration last week after a judge blocked the president’s executive order against illegal immigrant deportations. Leaders in 26 states, including South Carolina, charged the White House had exceeded its powers. The dinner begins at 6 p.m.

U.S. Sen. Lindsey Graham and Israeli Ambassador Ophir Aviran will be at Brith Sholom Beth Israel Synagogue, 182 Rutledge Ave. in Charleston, at 9:45 a.m. to discuss security. The event is open to the public.

Tonight at 6 p.m. at The Citadel, New York developer and TV personality Donald Trump will be honored at the Citadel Republican Society’s Patriot Dinner, at the Holliday Alumni Center. Former U.S. Sen. Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania will be there too, speaking on foreign policy threats. Tickets required.

Palmetto Politics is assembled by The Post and Courier staff, including Schuyler Kropf in Charleston and Cynthia Roldan in Columbia.