A Rock Hill lawmaker is bringing efforts to restrict Gov. Nikki Haley's influence on higher education and the Legislature to the Statehouse floor.
One of several bills state Rep. John King, D-Rock Hill, has introduced in recent weeks would strip Haley of her power to appoint members of Winthrop University's board of trustees.
King said Haley's ouster of Darla Moore from the University of South Carolina's trustees board is motivating the bill.
"In light of what has happened with the University of South Carolina, and being that Winthrop is a major economic engine, I don't want Winthrop to be subjected to what the University of South Carolina has been," King said Wednesday.
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Haley replaced Moore - a significant donor and business leader and the namesake of USC's business school - with Lexington attorney Jim Cofield, who contributed $4,500 to Haley as she campaigned for governor.
A short time after her dismissal, Moore gave $5 million to USC for a proposed aerospace center, bringing her total contributions as the university's largest donor to $75 million.
Her removal incited protests at the Statehouse from students and alumni.
"I want to make sure that Winthrop is safe-guarded from that part of the politics," King said, adding that he hopes people "take notice" of how Haley's appointments to public colleges and universities have included many contributors to her campaign.
Haley selected two members for Winthrop's board. Don Long, a retired IBM executive with a long history of community involvement in Lake Wylie and at Winthrop, was appointed as Haley's voting member.
Tim Hopkins, a Winthrop graduate with experience in public education and with Winthrop's alumni association and foundation, is the governor's nonvoting member.
Long donated $250 to Haley's campaign for governor, and Hopkins donated $450 to Vincent Sheheen's, state Ethics Commission records show.
Winthrop University President Anthony DiGiorgio told members of the executive committee of Winthrop's trustees board that the university made out well with the governor's appointees. They seem to be "positive people" and have experience with the university, DiGiorgio said
Also new to the board is Glenn McCall, a nonvoting member appointed by Mick Zais, state education superintendent. McCall is a retired Bank of America executive and the chairman of the York County Republican Party.
With no co-sponsors, it's unclear whether the bill will gain any support.
State Rep. Gary Simrill, R-Rock Hill, said he won't sign on as a supporter.
It's important to have representation for the governor on the board's of publicly supported universities and colleges, he said, adding that alumni and legislators are also represented.
Simrill supports an effort by Haley to establish "measurables" for evaluating higher education institutions. Criteria include accepting more in-state students, improving graduation rates and contributing to economic development.
That effort is just getting started, he said.
"King's bill doesn't help the overall future of higher education," he said.
State Rep. Ralph Norman, R-Rock Hill, also said that state-supported schools need state representation on their boards.
The education and public works committee will "vet (the bill) out thoroughly" when it meets Tuesday, Norman said, uncertain about the bill's future.
"John will have to get a lot of signatures. I don't know if he would be able to pull that off," he said.
King's other bills aim to:
Create a report card for the governor in response to Haley's promise to grade the Legislature, which he sees as "something to campaign on in a couple of years."
"My constituents can grade me every day" and in their votes, he said.
Prohibit the governor or any member of the governor's office from entering the House while in session.
Prohibit the governor from using public funds to hire anyone whose activities include lobbying the S.C. General Assembly.
Prohibit any public officials from using public money for evaluating other public officials. Instead, the money should come from campaign budgets, he said.