Russ McKinney

Reporter, Producer

Russ McKinney has 30 years of experience in radio news and public affairs.  He is a former broadcast news reporter in Spartanburg, Columbia and Atlanta.  He served as Press Secretary to former S.C. Governor Dick Riley for two terms, and for 20 years was the chief public affairs officer for the University of South Carolina.

Ways to Connect

Sen. Tom Davis, R-Beaufort speaking at Americans For Prosperity rally at the Statehouse on Tuesday, March 21, 2017
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

Another handgun bill is up for debate in the S.C. House, and battle lines are being drawn in the Senate around an $800 Million road funding bill.

Next year's $8 Billion state budget has passed the House, and the Senate prepares to debate an $800 Million road funding measure.

Bills addressing the "Charleston Loophole" are introduced in the State Senate, and Gov. Henry McMaster toughens his stance on raising the gas tax.

Two major bills advanced this week in the S.C. General Assembly.

The South Carolina House of Representatives Chamber.
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

Two key bills are up for debate next week at the State House: road funding and the state pension system.

Controversial bills dealing with concealed weapons and the legal processes surrounding controversial development projects are advancing in the S.C. General Assembly.

Gavin Jackson/SCETV

Governor Henry McMaster says he will support a gas-tax funded roads bill only "as a last resort," and the General Assembly advances legislation to fix the state's ailing pension system.

More dire warnings on the status of S.C. roads and highways as the General Assembly begins considering road funding measures again this session.

Gov. Henry McMaster with his wife Peggy, and son Henry is sworn into office by S.C. Supreme Court Chief Justice Donald Beatty at the Statehouse on Tuesday, January 24, 2017.
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

Henry McMaster becomes Governor of South Carolina, and the State Senate elevates Sen. Kevin Bryant to the post of Lieutenant Governor.

S.C. Governor Nikki Haley is a step closer to being confirmed as the next United Nations Ambassador, and the State Supreme Court weighs in on the matter of the state's next Lieutenant Governor.

Archived video of Nikki Haley's confirmation hearing.

Gov. Nikki Haley giving her State of the State Address, Wednesday night.
SCETV

S.C. Governor Nikki Haley bids farewell to the General Assembly.

Russ McKinney
Rob Sprankle

    The 2017 session of the S.C. General Assembly begins Jan. 10th with lawmakers facing a number of un-answered questions.

A committee of The South Carolina House of Representatives has been at work attempting to revamp the state’s outdated tax code,  the collection of laws and regulations that prescribe how the state collects tax revenues.  This year that's expected to be over $7 Billion.

South Carolina Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster (right) with Maj. Gen. Robert E. Livingston, S.C. Adjutant General.
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

It’s expected to be early 2017 when Gov. Nikki Haley becomes the next U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations, and Lt. Gov. Henry McMaster becomes Governor.  However the developments are already impacting the 2018 elections.

Yuryi Abramochkin

President-Elect Donald Trump has selected Governor Nikki Haley as the next US Ambassador to the United Nations. Haley is the first female appointed to a top position in Trump's administration. The two have had a tense relationship, as she first supported Marco Rubio then Ted Cruz for the Presidency. Russ McKinney reports from the Capital. 

Philip Habermehl of the U.S Geological Survey measures streamflow in the Reedy River south of Greenville, SC.
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

For the Piedmont section of South Carolina, the hot, dry summer has become the warm and even drier fall.  Much of the Upstate is in a prolonged drought.  According to the U.S. Drought Monitor, counties in the northwestern area of the state are actually in a severe or extreme drought brought on by almost no appreciable rain, and above average temperature for months.

Despite the good economy, South Carolina state lawmakers are already bracing for difficult budget debates when the legislature convenes in January.  While damage estimates from Hurricane Matthew are still being developed, the storm will definitely impact next year’s state budget.  Last year’s (2015) historic flooding cost the state around $200 Million.

"Islands of Light," Maxwell Hills, Duncan Park Lake, 293 West Park Drive. Lights On – 6:30 p.m.
Stephen Stinson

The city of Spartanburg has unveiled a public art project with the help of a $1 million grant from the Bloomberg philanthropies public art challenge.

Nine light art projects by award-winning light and digital media artist Erwin Redl serve as the catalyst to bring the Spartanburg Police Department and community groups together to use art projects to promote community safety.

Spartanburg is one of just four cities out of some 240 that competed to be awarded the $1 Million grant from Bloomberg Philanthropies in 2015. 

A solar array at the Shi Center for Sustainability at Furman University.
Furman University

Solar Energy Use in South Carolina Is Surging As A Result Of A State Law Enacted In 2014

Work is underway at Furman University in Greenville on a large solar farm sited on five acres of land at the main entrance to campus.  It’s the latest step in Furman’s goal of using renewable energy to become a carbon-neutral campus in ten years.

Elk in the Cataloochee Valley in North Carolina
Upstate SC Chapter of the Rocky Mountain Elk Foundation

There’s nothing more exciting if you are an outdoors enthusiast than observing wild animals in their natural habitats, except for maybe seeing or even hearing an animal that you don’t expect to be where you are.

Dr. Phinnize J. Fisher Middle School
Greenville County School District

    The Greenville County School District, the state's largest district, is offering universal free breakfasts to all students attending the 92 Greenville County Schools this year.  Taking advantage of a program enacted by Congress in 2010, the district is among a number of districts in the state finding ways to offer all of its' students free breakfasts.  Research shows that breakfast is the most important meal of the day to foster learning in school students.

Sen. Kevin Bryant, chairing the Joint Committee on Pension Systems Review, Aug 30, 2016.
statehouse.gov

  South Carolina's outdated tax code and state pension fund are being scrutinized by state lawmakers ahead of next year's session of the S.C. General Assembly .

Two legislative committees are at work on the two fiscal issues which have been looming over the legislature for years.

The Carolina Panthers practice at Wofford College.
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

  Over 100,00 fans have already visited Spartanburg for this year's training camp providing a boost for Wofford and the City of Spartanburg .

Repair crews at work on the SC 9 Bridge over the Broad River.  Work on a new bridge is scheduled to begin in 2017.
Russ McKinney/SC Public Radio

Construction crews are busy with repairs to the bridge where SC Highway 9 crosses the Broad River between Chester and Union counties at the Town of Lockhart. The crumbling condition of the 70 year old bridge puts a new spotlight on the poor condition of the state’s roads and bridges. The state Department of Transportation (DOT) will soon have funding for a new SC 9 bridge thanks to the state legislature which authorized a $4 Billion dollar, ten year roads spending plan during this year’s legislative session.

Falls Park in downtown Greenville, SC. The city's next planned revitalization project is another “world-class” park along the Reedy River.
James Willamor/Flickr

  A recent report in the Wall Street Journal made the case that the major beneficiary of the expansion of the Panama Canal and the expected boom in imports and exports through the port in Charleston, could actually be South Carolina’s Upstate region, and its thriving manufacturing industry.

No one will be keeping an eye on projected growth in the Upstate more than the leaders of the City of Greenville.

State Troopers removing the Confederate battle flag from display on the grounds of the South Carolina State House, July 10, 2015.
SCETV

  One year ago, on July 10, 2015 the confederate flag was lowered from its place of honor in front of the Statehouse in Columbia signaling the end of a contentious period of state history. Over fifty years of contention to be exact.

Sen. Clemente Pinckey
SC Senate

  On June 17, 2015 the state and the nation were shocked by the horrific shootings at Charleston’s Emanuel AME Church.  Nine people attending bible study at the church, including the church’s pastor State Sen. Clemente Pinckney of Jasper County were killed.  The death of Pinckney, a popular and respected member of the Senate, rocked the Statehouse, and set-off a chain of events that culminated three weeks later with the removal of the confederate flag from the Statehouse grounds.

South Carolina Gov. Nikki Haley and former Charleston Mayor Joe Riley on SCETV's program "Palmetto Focus."
SCETV

  The murders at Emanuel AME Church in Charleston, S.C. last June thrust two of the state’s top public officials into the forefront.  Republican Gov. Nikki Haley, and then Mayor of Charleston Joe Riley, a Democrat.  Both leaders received praise for their roles in the aftermath.

The two were co-recipients of this year’s leadership awards from Furman University’s Riley Institute.

Pacolet Mill # 1, Pacolet, SC  - June 6, 1903.
Courtesy Spartanburg County Public Libraries

With the state still feeling the effects of last fall’s rain event and floods, there have been many attempts to assign the flood its place in history.  Gov. Nikki Haley has described it as a “thousand year flood.”  But a look back in history shows South Carolina has dealt with some major floods over the years. In 1908, heavy rains caused the highest river levels ever to be recorded on the Wateree in Camden and on the Congaree in Columbia, and they caused extensive flood damage.

This year’s session of the S.C. General Assembly has come to an end.  In the final days state lawmakers finally passed a major roads funding bill.  Russ McKinney has this round up of the week of this year's session.

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