Mica’s Law, Funding Issues and the Rankin Campaign for Reelection

By Paul Gable

A proposed Mica’s Law and the need for it were the topic of conversation by Attorney Regina Ward as a guest on the TALK 94.5 Liz Calloway Show today.

References were made to Ward’s press conference last week bringing light to much needed action by the General Assembly to pass coercive control legislation to close a gap in current domestic abuse law.

The latest form of the legislation was filed in the SC Senate in December 2021. It died in the Senate Judiciary Committee chaired by Horry County Sen.  Luke Rankin.

Calloway said the show reached out to both Rankin and his opponent in tomorrow’s Republican Primary for Senate District 33, Autry Benton. According to Calloway, Rankin referred the show to a statement he made after the press conference in which he called that event a political stunt. Benton said he would take Mica’s Law legislation and run with it, if elected.

Tragically, domestic abuse takes a back seat to other issues. In Horry County there is one egregious example. Horry County’s shelter for victims of domestic abuse was closed in 2012. Since that time, Horry County victims have had to travel to Georgetown County’s small shelter.

Attempts to obtain funding from the state to build a new victim’s center in Horry County have lagged, raising approximately $1.5 million from the state in the intervening years for a projected to cost approximately $3.5 million.

However, this year alone, a proposed new Grand Strand Humane Society complex received $2 million in the state budget following an additional $1 million appropriated by the state last year. In addition, the Santee Cooper board gave the Humane Society a 40-year gratis lease on land the utility owned. The President of the Humane Society is Rankin’s wife. Rankin’s business partner in North Carolina land ownership is a Rankin appointee on the Santee Cooper Board of Directors.

Additionally, the land for the Humane Society is located adjacent to a Waterside Drive residential neighborhood. The residents strongly opposed the shelter in that location because of increased noise and traffic problems.

Nobody is saying there isn’t a need for a humane society shelter for animals. But, what makes funding that shelter more important or more worthy than funding a shelter for victims of domestic abuse?

Rankin has told voters in campaign mailers and television ads that he has “their back.” Evidently having their back does not include moving a bill designed to stop coercive control domestic abuse is not included in his thinking. Furthermore, not providing any funding for a much-needed domestic abuse victim center hardly demonstrates he has the backs of those victims. And the backs of the residents of Waterside Drive, which sits in Rankin’s senate district, he also left exposed.

The entire Rankin campaign has been one of deception. In his first mailer, Rankin tried to take credit for road money raised by the RIDE programs. Those were entirely county efforts approved in a series of referendums by the people to charge a one-cent local option sales tax to pay for the road improvements. No money from the state budget.

Rankin attempted to take credit for bills passed through the legislature on subjects such as fentanyl trafficking and sentences which were not his initiative. And, he failed to mention that he was the only Republican senator to vote “NO” on the Constitutional Carry bill.

He spoke of a change in the way judges are elected in the state, which really didn’t change much other than to expand the Judicial Merit Selection Commission, while still including lawyer/legislators and to give the governor a bit more of a direct role in nominating judicial candidates. The legislature will still be in control of electing judges.

Amendments to the state’s joint and several liability law died in the Senate, basically because the trial lawyers, of which Rankin is one, do not wish any change. The proposed changes could save on insurance premiums for both businesses and the public at large. However, those changes would inevitably have a direct negative impact on the income of the trial lawyers.

The Our American Century PAC sent mailers and text messages attacking Rankin’s opponent, Autry Benton, with completely false accusations about a contract with the City of Conway and PPP funds. Our American Century PAC is long on attack messaging irrespective of the actual facts.

There is little Rankin has to demonstrate he has served Horry County citizens well, other than the words coming from his campaign pronouncements. The lack of support for coercive control domestic abuse legislation, lack of funding for a victims center while obtaining funding for his wife’s project and lack of dedicated funding for Horry County road improvements argue the opposite.

Comments are closed.