Editor's Note: Final update 8:13 a.m.
Top Story
McMaster pushes for tax cuts, education reform, mental health funding
Gov. Henry McMaster told legislators Wednesday that the state's booming economy, billions of extra state revenue and federal aid money will allow the state to make bold steps toward transformation, especially when it comes to infrastructure. In his fifth State of the State address, McMaster pushed for more investment in mental health, education spending reform and tax cuts. In the Democratic rebuttal, State Rep. Spencer Wetmore, D-Charleston, called on legislators to curb political extremism and focus more on bipartisanship.

Meanwhile, coronavirus continued to rage in South Carolina. State health officials on Wednesday reported 10,744 total cases of COVID-19 with 8,440 confirmed. A total of 14 new deaths, 9 of which are confirmed, were also reported. With 35,060 tests reported Wednesday, 33.4% were confirmed positive.

Top Opinion
Parents, school boards need to help keep S.C. schools open
"We know that kids need to be in the classroom: for their education, for their emotional well-being, for their physical safety and, yes, for the sake of parents who otherwise would have to stay home with them — possibly losing their jobs as a result — and businesses that would face further strains with those parents’ absences. And yet, we can’t all seem to agree at the same time to do what it takes to keep them in school."
Statewide impact
WINTER STORM: McMaster declares state of emergency
A winter storm is predicted to bring snow and ice to much of South Carolina on Friday and Saturday. On Wednesday, Gov. Henry McMaster declared a state of emergency in an effort to better coordinate resources ahead of the storm, which will begin late Friday morning.
Source: WLTX
Horry schools move Friday classes to online due to storm
A chance of light snow predicted for Upstate on Friday
Lakelands utilities prepare for predicted flakes
Orangeburg officials ready for ice, snow and freezing rain
Freezing rain could slick Lowcountry roads Friday
Pee Dee officials team up to get ready for storm
Source: WPDE
Freezing rain, sleet likely for Pee Dee
Source: WPDE
Upstate school districts make decision about Thursday, Friday classes
Source: WYFF
Winter storm could bring freezing rain, ice to the Lowcountry
Source: WCSC
Winter storm could bring freezing rain, ice to the Lowcountry
Source: WCSC
Williamsburg schools go virtual Friday due to winter weather
Source: WCSC
Winter storm watch continues for much of the state through 7 a.m. Saturday
Source: WLTX
New models show less snow predicted for Upstate on Friday
Source: WYFF
List of Midlands schools going to e-Learning Friday due to weather
Source: WLTX
STATE OF THE STATE: Governor says dollars to create action
Gov. Henry McMaster addressed a joint session of the General Assembly Wednesday for his annual State of the State speech. He said the booming economy, billions of extra state revenue, and federal aid money will allow the state to make bold steps toward transformation, especially when it comes to infrastructure.
Source: AP News
Pee Dee delegation praises McMaster's State of the State address
McMaster recaps proposals, fight with White House in address
McMaster lays out spending priorities in annual address
Wetmore calls for end to 'political extremism' in S.C.
Source: The State
McMaster plan would privatize mental health counseling, cut taxes in 2022
Source: The State
McMaster pushes for state investment in mental health
McMaster delivers fifth State of the State, touts opportunity
Source: WCSC
See text of McMaster's State of the State speech here
Source: AP News
See text of Rep. Spencer Wetmore's Demcoratic response to McMaster
Source: AP News
PANDEMIC: 8,440 confirmed cases, 9 deaths; 33.4% positive
South Carolina health officials reported 10,744 total cases of COVID-19 Jan. 19, with 8,440 confirmed. A total of 14 new deaths, 9 of which are confirmed, were also reported. With 35,060 tests reported Wednesday, 33.4% were confirmed positive.
S.C. health officials say vaccination still best route out of the pandemic
S.C. student cases with COVID-19 has more than doubled
Time to upgrade your mask. Here's how
CDC says post-infection immunity very protective against Delta, but vaccines still best defense
Europe considers new COVID-19 strategy of accepting the virus
Source: AP News
Study suggests prior infection more protective than vaccination during Delta surge
Source: Reuters
Former House member among candidates considered for judgeship
Former state Rep. Alan Clemmons is among the top three candidates eyeing an appointment for a Master-in-Equity judicial seat in Horry County.
Source: The Nerve
Potential 2024 president candidate Scott releases 'America' memoir
Republican Sen. Tim Scott of South Carolina is one of a field of candidates seen as a potential foil to President Joe Biden in 2024. Now, he's a released a new memoir entitled "America."
Source: The State
S.C.'s Scott targets 'Jim Crow' rhetoric over voting bill in Senate
State high court chief flip flops on lawyer-legislature order
S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty issued a ruling this month that rolled back a protection that barred lawyers who also serve as state legislators from being compelled to appear in court while the General Assembly is in session. The move earned him praise from prosecutors and victims' advocates. But the next day, he quietly backtracked.
NATIONAL: Voting bill collapses as Dems unable to change filibuster
Voting legislation that Democrats and civil rights leaders say is vital to protecting democracy collapsed Wednesday night when two senators refused to join their own party in changing Senate rules to overcome a Republican filibuster after a raw, emotional debate. The end to the voting bill is seen as a stinging defeat for President Joe Biden and the Democrats.
Source: AP News
Biden's goals he hit and missed in his first year in office
Five moments that mattered in Biden's first year in the White House
Source: NPR
In his first year as a former president, here's what Trump has done
Source: Politico
Biden shifts tone, blasts Republicans in news conference
S.C.'s Graham among GOP that says he could support some standalone climate measures
Dems fail to alter filibuster as GOP blocks voting bill in Senate
In rebuke to Trump, Supreme Court greenlights release of Jan. 6 files
Supreme Court allows Jan. 6 panel to get Trump documents
Source: AP News
Biden approval rating hits new low at one year into presidency
Source: AP News
S.C. Senate to consider ban on drivers holding phones
A bill requiring anyone using a cellphone while driving to use hands-free features is heading for debate on the Senate floor, after the proposal passed a committee Wednesday.
Source: AP News
Senate panel advances bill making it illegal to drive with phone in hand in S.C.
S.C. Senate moves closer to congressional map debate
Under the Senate's version of the Congressional seats, the First Congressional District will lean more Republican. Richland Democratic Sen. Dick Harpootlian said he will make an amendment to replace the currently proposed map with a version he created, which will make the First Congressional District lean more Democratic, among other changes. It's not clear when the Senate will take up debate on the maps, however.
Source: AP News
S.C. Senate panel advances congressional plan that gives GOP more control
GOP pushes for more ruthless redistricting
Source: Politico
S.C. legislature among those likely to mull 'Day of Tears' resolution
Idaho's state legislature is considering a resolution that would lower flags to half staff once a year for a "Day of Tears," to remember the fetuses terminated by abortion. According to the story, South Carolina is among the other states expected to see such a resolution introduced in its legislature this year.
Source: AP News
S.C. attorney general joins letter asking OSHA to end vaccine mandate
Attorney General Alan Wilson has joined 27 other attorneys general in a letter asking the Occupational Safety and Health Administration to withdraw its COVID-19 vaccine mandate for large employers.
Source: WBTW
Could Restaurant Week lead to bust instead of boom?
Restaurant Week South Carolina kicked off Jan. 13 amid supply chain shortages, staffing woes and inflation. Some restaurant owners wondered whether participation was worth it, despite it occurring in a slow time of year.
Richland Co. touts second-best year for investment
According to a 2021 report, Richland County attracted $359.6 million in investment, its second-highest level on record. The highest level came in 2020 with $638.7 million in investment, the bulk of that coming from the $400 million investment by Mark Anthony Brewing for a new brewing facility located off Shop Road.
Austrian machine maker to establish U.S. operations in Upstate
Kostwein Corp., a high-tech machine manufacturer, will establish its first U.S. operations in Greenville County through a $8.5 million investment. The Austrian company is pledging 95 new jobs as part of a deal.
Upstate business advocate calls for tax changes in S.C.
The Upstate Chamber Coalition is pushing for more favorable policies toward businesses in the state, including changes on lawsuits and income tax rates.
How the national labor crisis poses a threat to S.C. economy
Burned out workers are making services difficult in South Carolina.
Record number of guns confiscated at S.C. airports in 2021
Mask? Check. Gun? Check. National airport security confiscated more guns in 2021 than ever before across four South Carolina airports: 72.
Source: The State
One gun found for every 77k passengers in S.C. airports
First Black reporter at a major Charleston newspaper dies at 88
Rudy Pyatt died at 88 this month. He is being remembered as the first Black reporter hired by a major newspaper in Charleston. He joined the staff of The News and Courier in Charleston in 1964.
Myrtle Beach airport sets new record for passengers in 2021
Myrtle Beach International Airport saw 3.2 million passengers ferried through in 2021 despite the continued pandemic. The passenger count broke the airport's previous record, set in 2019 with 2.6 million passengers.
Breeze Airways to offer 5 routes from Charleston
Utah-based Breeze Airways will bring its larger Airbus A220 aircraft into Charleston starting this summer, offering flights to Tampa, Florida; Providence, Rhode Island; Richmond, Virginia; Hartford, Connecticut; and Huntsville, Alabama.
S.C.'s BMW plant breaks production record
BMW Manufacturing produced 433,810 X-class vehicles in 2021, a new production record for the South Carolina facility -- despite global supply chain strains amid the pandemic.
Seasonal deals for tourism seem to have disappeared
The off-season used to be where savvy travelers got good deals, but the pandemic has shifted the market and now destinations like Myrtle Beach aren't offering much seasonality in pricing.
Ford recalls 200,000 cars over brake light issue
Automotive giant Ford is recalling about 200,000 cars in the United States to fix a problem that can stop the brake lights from turning off. Some of the vehicles were sold in South Carolina. The recall covers certain 2014 and 2015 Ford Fusion and Lincoln MKZ midsize cars as well as some 2015 Mustangs.
Source: AP News
Another Clemson fraternity suspended for hazing, report says
Pi Kappa Phi has been suspended at Clemson University until 2025 for hazing, according to a report from the college.
Source: WSPA
Upstate teachers talk about how e-learning has changed the classroom
E-learning was first pioneered as a way to keep students learning despite inclement weather. The pandemic made it a go-to model. Teachers in the Upstate talk about how it has changed how they teach.
Greenwood 50 board axes ninth grade academy panel
A committee tasked with helping ninth graders succeed in Greenwood County School district 50 was officially dissolved via unanimous vote Tuesday.
Greenwood 52 superintendent candidates meet with public
The three finalists for the superintendent position in Greenwood County School District 52 met with the public in Ninety Six Tuesday.
Study suggests retaining K-12 teachers more isn't just about money
A recent survey from the University of South Carolina found that curbing the historically large teacher shortage in the state can't be fixed with just increasing pay.
Source: The State
Charleston board rejects request to vote on Reimagine proposal
The Charleston County School Board will not vote on the controversial Reimagine Schools proposal at its next meeting. The proposal was tabled last meeting and now has been removed from its Jan. 24 agenda. The proposal sought to create improvement plans at 21 low-performing schools, but community activists worried about putting public education in private hands.
Coastal Community Foundation outlines next steps for Reimagine Schools proposal
Source: WCBD
USC coach Staley part of selection panel for U.S. women's team
South Carolina coach Dawn Staley will be part of the selection committee for the U.S. women's basketball team for upcoming competitions this year, including the FIBA World Cup in September.
Source: ESPN
Summerville schools to hold public meeting today for chief search
Dorchester County School District Two will hold public meetings today in two locations as the school board embarks on replacing longtime superintendent Joe Pye, who is retiring at the end of the school year.
Source: WCSC
Parent-activists are taking over school boards
After two years of pandemic strain, more parents than ever are becoming involved in school board decisions -- and joining the school board.
Spartanburg Community College extends free tuition
Spartanburg Community College is extending its free tuition program into the 2022-2023 school year.
Source: AP News
For free tuition, Spartanburg Community students must exhaust all other aid, scholarship routes
Protected horseshoe crab in McMaster's spending proposal
A $500,000 proposal by a multinational company seeks to gain unprecedented access to bleed horseshoe crabs in South Carolina for biomedical use.
Source: The State
S.C. close to buying land to grow Midlands' preserve, sites
The S.C. Department of Natural Resources wants to add to its Congaree Creek Heritage Preserve, a 627-acre property the state owns west of the Congaree River near the city of Cayce. The agency plans to buy an additional 127 acres to expand the preserve.
15th earthquake reported near Elgin since December
A small earthquake hit in the Midlands Wednesday night in the same general area where 14 others were recorded over the past month.
Source: WCSC
Beaufort County currently has no public mental health facilities
As Beaufort County mulls how to address homeless encampments on county property, the county is now dealing with the question of how it treats those with mental illness and where to send them for help.
Major Local News
Fundraiser gives cash to family of Stephen Smith
Stephen Smith, 19, died in 2015 in rural Hampton County and his death remains unsolved.
Charleston Co. spending millions to staff affordable housing effort
Despite not having a detailed plan to address affordable housing in Charleston County, the administration is spending $3 million to hire staff and manage programs. The money is coming from federal funds.
Abe Jenkins Jr. remembered for defending Johns Island
Abe Jenkins Jr., a community activist with deep roots on Johns Island, died Jan. 17 of complications from COVID. He was 66.
Cayce vows to incorporate more Black history into museum
In the wake of recommendations to the Cayce City Council, the city will explore more ways to tell the area's Black history. The recommendations came on the heels of an investigation following a museum commissioner's alleged racist comments.
N. Charleston police ID officers involved in fatal shooting
Patrolman First Class Juan P. Recinos Estrada, 32, and Patrol Officer Justin Lamar Whittaker, 22, were involved in the fatal shooting of Junnie Williams, according to North Charleston Police Department. Williams was shot Jan. 16. His family members and local activists are demanding transparency from the law enforcement agency.
Greenwood 50 board needs more transparency
"That it? Are we done now? Can we move on to other topics? It would seem that is precisely the message the Greenwood County School District 50 trustees are trying to send to the community it serves as it relates to any talk of a ninth-grade academy."
Power mostly stayed on, groceries available; Be grateful
"So, even if you had some inconveniences, such as a tree blocking your normal driving route or, worse, a power outage at home, be glad you were able to get through it with few if any real problems."
Remembering those who served beyond the war
"In 2016, then 93-year-old Harold Ness of Denmark was among World War II veterans aboard the final Honor Flight of South Carolina journey from Columbia to Washington, taking veterans to see the memorials built to honor them ... Ness is the latest of the Greatest Generation to be lost. The iconic Denmark businessman died Jan. 15 at age 99."
Devine: In S.C., we celebrate local school leaders
"These elected community members selflessly give their time and energy to represent your communities’ voice for public schools. Each year board members contribute hundreds of hours leading their districts."
Brinson: Rudy Pyatt helped to transform journalism in S.C., beyond
"I was an apprentice-college kid working in the newspapers’ photography labs when Rudy Pyatt took his seat in The News and Courier newsroom. His smile lifted any conversation; his work lifted all the common denominators of achievement and professionalism."
In the face of defeat, Biden stays the course to his detriment
"President Biden took questions from the press for nearly two hours Wednesday, his 364th day in office, which would have been an opportune moment to announce a change in strategy or agenda. In one poll this week, 37% of voters graded his first year as an F, and another 12% gave it a D."
How Joe Biden can fix his ailing presidency
"In his second year, Mr. Biden must tack toward the practical. Mr. Manchin had offered to support a $1.8 trillion Build Back Better proposal last month, which would have included hefty climate change provisions, before his talks with the White House collapsed. The president should have taken up Mr. Manchin then. Mr. Biden should say yes to Mr. Manchin now, salvaging as much of that proposal as he can in direct talks with the West Virginia senator. Progress could happen soon: Mr. Biden signaled Wednesday that he would substantially pare down the Build Back Better bill to match Mr. Manchin’s preferences, with the climate and energy provisions remaining at its core."
Nkengasong: Prepare now for the next COVID-19 variant
"Each time a new variant of the coronavirus emerges, the world follows a similar pattern. Scientists share the discovery, and panic ensues. Not enough is done between each wave to prevent or prepare for the next one."
Rauch, Wehner: What's happening on Left is no excuse for the Right
"Again and again, we have heard conservatives argue that even if you believe that Donald Trump is flawed and the MAGA movement is worrisome, the left is much more dangerous. We disagree. Fears about the left’s increasingly authoritarian, radical tendencies are well grounded; but they have blinded many conservatives to the greater danger posed by the right, which we believe is a threat to our constitutional order and therefore to conservatism itself."
Blow: And just like that we're back to the 1890s
"It is sad, depressing and enraging to watch as the Senate refuses to defend voting rights, largely those of Black and brown people."
King, Kessel: The real cause for hospitals' crises is greed
"Nurses would like to set the record straight on the hospital staffing crisis."
Edsall: Why millions think Trump cannot tell a lie
"The unwillingness of Republican leaders to challenge Trump’s relentless lies, for whatever reason — for political survival, for mobilization of whites opposed to minorities, to curry favor, to feign populist sympathies — is as consequential as or more so than actually believing the lie."


Statewide impact

PANDEMIC: 8,440 confirmed cases, 9 deaths; 33.4% positive; STATE OF THE STATE: Governor says dollars to create action More...


S.C. legislature among those likely to mull 'Day of Tears' resolution; S.C. Senate moves closer to congressional map debate More...


Ford recalls 200,000 cars over brake light issue; Seasonal deals for tourism seem to have disappeared More...


Spartanburg Community College extends free tuition ; Parent-activists are taking over school boards More...


15th earthquake reported near Elgin since December ; S.C. close to buying land to grow Midlands' preserve, sites More...


Beaufort County currently has no public mental health facilities More...

Major Local News

N. Charleston police ID officers involved in fatal shooting; Cayce vows to incorporate more Black history into museum More...


Edsall: Why millions think Trump cannot tell a lie; King, Kessel: The real cause for hospitals' crises is greed More...