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Learn more about Bakari Sellers and his vision for the state of South Carolina.

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Written by fitsnews

Bakari SellersIf only Nixon could go to China, only S.C. Rep. Bakari Sellers (D-Bamberg) could go to Bob Jones University …

The black Democrat – son of civil rights leader Dr. Cleveland Sellers – is speaking this week at the Greenville, S.C. school that gained national infamy during the 2000 presidential campaign for its ban on interracial dating.

And no, this is not a misprint …

“South Carolina State Representative Bakari Sellers will address the State and Local Government class at Bob Jones University on Mon., April 21 on the importance of young people getting involved and making a difference in their communities,” a blog post on Bob Jones’ official website states.

Sellers, 29, is in his fourth term in the S.C. House of Representatives. There he’s earned a reputation as a thoughtful, moderate Democrat – one willing to buck his party orthodoxy (and fiscal liberals in the GOP) when it is in the best interests of Palmetto State residents.

For example Sellers has vowed to block any plan to raise the gas tax in South Carolina – arguing it would disproportionately impact lower-income residents.

“We don’t need a gas tax increase. What we need is a serious plan to modernize and streamline our transportation delivery system – and a dedicated source of new revenue to meet prioritized needs, not political favors,” Sellers said earlier this year. “It’s not lack of funding, or taxes that are too low that have caused our roads to fall in disrepair, it’s politicians who have their priorities out of whack. And now, instead of solving the problem they want to place the burden of fixing our roads on individuals who can least afford it along with small businesses.”

Exactly …

While that’s the sort of forward-thinking South Carolina will need more of if it ever hopes to rise above the primordial ooze, Bob Jones has historically provided backward thinking.

Two years ago FITS published this report detailing actions taken by BJU against Christopher Peterman – a student whose only crime was pushing the school to address sexual abuse allegations and remove a trustee who was accused of helping cover up a 1997 rape.

The trustee eventually resigned, but the school did not distinguish itself in the process.

Established in 1926 in Panama City, Florida – Bob Jones University located in Greenville, S.C. in 1947. For decades, rock-n-roll music was not allowed on campus and students were prohibited from watching movies. Off-campus dating without a chaperone was also taboo, as was any interaction with a member of the opposite sex after 7:00 p.m. Even couples engaged to be married were prohibited from kissing each other.

In 2000 – following a national uproar over the policy – Bob Jones III abruptly dropped the school’s interracial dating ban. Eight years later, the school issued a statement in which it claimed to be “profoundly sorry” for permitting “institutional policies to remain in place that were racially hurtful.”

Sellers – who is running for lieutenant governor – tells FITS his visit to Bob Jones is part of his campaign’s effort to build “a new generation of leadership” in South Carolina by speaking at “every college and university in the state.”

He didn’t address the school’s racist past, merely saying he planned to offer “aspirational and challenging” remarks in an effort to “get millennials more involved.”


South Carolina’s health costs continue to rise following decision not to expand Medicaid

cmslogo-300x111Health care reform is helping South Carolinians, but the state’s decision not to expand Medicaid leaves those most in need without health insurance while costs continue to rise, according to local lawmakers.

Rep. Bakari Sellers, D-Denmark, called the decision not to expand Medicaid, “a $200 million concern.”

“It is going to cost the taxpayers. We just have to write another check instead of letting the federal government pay for it. It is redundant,” he said.

When President Barack Obama signed the Affordable Care Act in March 2010, a piece of the law left it up to the individual states to decide whether to opt into an expansion of the Medicaid program. While the federal government promised to shoulder the initial cost of the expansion, the state would gradually pick up a larger share.

Gov. Nikki Haley and most of the state’s Republican legislative leadership opposed the expansion, saying it was too costly in light of existing budget challenges.

The S.C. Department of Health and Human Services Office of Planning and Budget reports the state would have to spend $745.9 million extra for Medicaid over the next six years if it accepted the expansion. That’s if only 67 percent of the people eligible participated.

If all those eligible signed up for Medicaid, the expansion would cost the state $1.1 billion over the next six years, according to Health and Human Services.

“The enrollment in Medicaid is about 1 million, so an increase of 400,000 persons because of expansion is relatively large. Presently, not everyone that is eligible for Medicaid signs up,” said Tim Rogers, staffer on the S.C. House Ways and Means Health Care Subcommittee.

Rogers said the totals take into consideration that federal government will pay 100 percent of the expansion costs through 2016. The state would then be responsible for 5 percent in 2017, 6 percent in 2018, 7 percent in 2019 and 10 percent from 2020 on.

Even without the expansion, the state’s Medicaid budget has grown from about $5.8 billion in 2011 to $6.5 billion in 2013, Health and Human Services reports.

According to the Health and Human Services expectations, the budget will continue to grow to about $7 billion by 2015 without the expansion of Medicaid.

Officials expect the growth because more people are aware now that they qualify for Medicaid.

Health and Human Services Director Tony Keck said the state has brought more than 100,000 South Carolina children into the Medicaid program since 2011.

“When we came into office in 2011, we had 450,000 people eligible for the program and not enrolled,” Keck said.

The state Legislature made a promise to help people who had not been helped, he said. “We saw that we needed to bring them into the program.”

Keck said the governor has been clear about the need to help those who need help.

“These promises have been around a long time,” he said.

Keck said there has also been a growing list of poor people needing disability services. They are also being helped.

“The governor says we need to help people in need through lots of different ways,” Keck said. “It does not have to be Obamacare.”

Keck said the Medicaid expansion offered through the Affordable Care Act would end up being another “government entitlement program.”

Rep. Russell Ott, D-St. Matthews, says Medicaid expansion is not “some kind of government entitlement program.”

“These are working South Carolinians,” he said. “This is money that South Carolina taxpayers paid into the federal government that we won’t reap the benefits from.”

Rep. Gilda Cobb-Hunter, D-Orangeburg, said there are 200,000 people in the state who have “fallen in the coverage gap” since they do not qualify for subsidies and could have been covered under Medicaid expansion.

“I fail to see how 100 percent federal funding is costing South Carolina and is too expensive,” she said. “Even in 2020, when the state would have to pick up 10 percent of the Medicaid expansion tab, it’s much cheaper than employers and the privately insured picking up 100 percent of the uncompensated care cost shift tab.”

Cobb-Hunter is optimistic state leaders will have a change of heart.

“The elections will be behind us and I fully expect the General Assembly to figure out a way next year to expand Medicaid without calling it that,” Cobb-Hunter said.

Rep. Jerry Govan, D-Orangeburg, said the issue is all about politics.

“This is not about President Obama,” he said. “This is about the physical well-being and health of citizens in this state.”

“We realize there are thousands of people in South Carolina who unfortunately do not have health insurance,” Govan said. “Of course, there are those who know how important health insurance is to not only the physical well-being but also to the financial well-being of families.”

Govan said from all indications, the state’s leadership does not look like it will change its mind about accepting federal dollars for the expansion of the program.

“The different sides are pretty well entrenched,” Govan said. There was a renewed effort to deal with Medicaid expansion a few weeks ago, but it failed.

“I think it is pretty evident that this issue … is one you will see rear its ugly head throughout until the general election,” he said.

Sen. John Matthews, D-Bowman, is confident state legislators and leaders will eventually come around to see the benefits and importance of Medicaid expansion.

In three to five years, the General Assembly will have a change of heart and accept Medicaid expansion, he said.

“This state’s leadership is always lagging behind on changes,” he said. “The more people learn about it, the more people will go online, the more I think they will sign up. You will see less resistance and more support.”

Haley spokesperson Doug Mayer said the governor continues to stand by her opposition to the Affordable Care Act.

“As we’ve seen over the past six months, the president’s health care plan is an unmitigated disaster and Gov. Haley, without qualifications, stands by her decision to reject it and its centerpiece: the expansion of an already broken Medicaid program,” Mayer said in a prepared statement. “Obamacare is wrong for South Carolina and the governor will continue fighting against it while pushing for the state-based reforms that will actually improve the health of our citizens.”

Matthews said most of the people he has talked with are pleased with the Affordable Care Act.

“The roll-out was bad, but the product is good,” he said.

Matthews said he personally has talked to an Orangeburg businessperson who had a pre-existing condition.

“He was paying $1,250 a month on his bill and now it is less than $600,” Matthews said. “There are some good features. In some cases there will be some (costs) going up, but the number going down will outweigh those going up.”

Sellers said he has heard stories of people who did not have insurance being able to be seen by a primary-care doctor for the first time ever. He has also heard from those who were denied coverage in the past because of pre-existing medical conditions being able to benefit from health care.

“It is an exciting time and we are looking forward to greater stories,” Sellers said.

Read more:

Democrats, GOP come to Greenville looking for support

Bakari SellersUntil recently, state Rep. Bakari Sellers, a Democrat candidate for lieutenant governor, had to worry about just one Republican opponent, Charleston developer Pat McKinney.

Now he could face any of four Republicans in November, including former Attorney General Henry McMaster and Mike Campbell, son of former Gov. Carroll Campbell.

Retired Army Chaplain E. Ray Moore is also in the race as a Republican.

Sellers, however, says he’s not concerned by the newly expanded Republican field. Those candidates want to “build a bridge to the past,” he said. “We’re going to build a bridge to the future.”

Maybe so, but Democrats such as Sellers “support Obamacare and other liberal ideas,” countered Matt Moore, chairman of the South Carolina Republican Party.

Sellers was among the candidates for statewide office courting local Democrats at the TD Convention Center on Monday evening during the Greenville County Democratic Party’s convention.

Others included Richland County Councilwoman Joyce Dickerson, who’s running for the U.S. Senate seat held by Republican Tim Scott, and Parnell Diggs, a blind attorney from Myrtle Beach who wants to be attorney general.

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Vincent Sheheen had been scheduled to speak, but the Camden lawyer got stuck in court, according to his campaign manager.

So Fred Sheheen, Vincent Sheheen’s father, spoke in his stead.

Upstairs, it was the Republicans saying the Pledge of Allegiance during a rally and fundraiser for U.S. Senate candidate Richard Cash of Powdersville, one of six Republicans hoping to replace Sen. Lindsey Graham.

Performing at the “One Nation Under God Rally” was Christian musical artist Steven Curtis Chapman.

Cash said he was hoping the event would “energize the campaign in Greenville.”

“I ran for Congress in the Third District. This is a different district, so we really need to come out of this with a strong base of support, people who know who I am and will spread the word,” the Powdersville businessman said before the rally started.

Also challenging Graham in the June 10 Republican primary are Det Bowers, Lee Bright, Bill Connor, Benjamin Dunn and Nancy Mace.

Read more here:

Lt. governor candidate Bakari Sellers tells Claflin students he is ready for next step as change agent

The Panther

2014-jan-bakari-sellersS.C. lieutenant governor candidate Bakari Sellers came to Claflin University to address plans for “breathing new life” into South Carolina politics.

The Democratic S.C. House of Representatives member from Bamberg County held a news conference with multimedia reporting students on Feb 6, focusing on his plans for South Carolina in education and access to quality health care.

“Kids don’t have to go to a school where heating and air doesn’t work,” said Sellers, at 30 years old in his eighth year as a lawmaker.

Sellers plans to reform school lunch programs, expand 4-year old kindergarten and push higher pay for teachers.

Acknowledging that young people and students are keys in the success of his campaign for the state’s second highest office, he has strong views on issues affecting them, notably higher education and capping tuition.

“There are students who don’t take the initiative to continue their education because they don’t have the funds to do so,” he said. “It’s getting to the point where schools are pricing students out of school.”

Sellers is a native of Denmark and graduated from Orangeburg-Wilkinson High School. His parents played a huge motivational role in his life.

“My parents told me to be a change agent,” he said.

Feb. 8, 1968, is a very significant date to Sellers and his family. It marks the day his father and Voorhees College president, Cleveland Sellers, was shot during the Orangeburg Massacre. The elder Sellers  was jailed and later pardoned in the incident that left three students dead and 28 injured.

The Orangeburg Massacre occurred when nine South Carolina Highway Patrol officers in Orangeburg fired into a crowd of protesters near the campus of then-South Carolina State College. The demonstrations were against segregation at a Russell Street bowling alley.

Now-a-days Sellers doesn’t face the racial setbacks his father encountered.

“Race doesn’t have anything to do to stop me,” he said. “I am running for lieutenant governor because for me, it’s not about what our state was, or what our state is, but what it can be.”

The State: ELECTION 2014: Lawmaker wants all county election offices open Sunday

The State: VoteState and county election offices should open Sunday, the first day candidates can file for the June primaries, State Rep. Bakari Sellers, a Democratic candidate for lieutenant governor, asked the S.C. Election Commission on Thursday.

Some county offices will not open Sunday. They include the state’s three most-populated counties — Richland, Greenville and Charleston

“Although we appreciate that March 16th is a Sunday, we are shocked that these offices refuse to open and allow citizens to offer themselves for public office,” Sellers wrote to S.C. Election Commission director Marci Andino said.

In an interview, Sellers said the state “needs to go above and beyond” to assure open access after hundreds of candidates were thrown off ballot in 2012 over a filing technicality.

“We don’t need to lose any more confidence in the process,” he said.

Sellers said he plans to introduce legislation that would require county election offices to open everyday during the two-week filing period.

Filing periods run during the same two-week periods.

The primary period runs from noon March 16 to noon March 30. They happen to be on Sundays this year for the June 10 primary.

State and county election offices are not required to open on weekends except in the last 72 hours of a filing period when they must be open at least four hours a day, election commission spokesman Chris Whitmire said.

That means elections offices will be open for at least four hours on March 29 and March 30.

With two weeks to sign up, “we don’t think (weekend closings) will hamper anyone’s ability to file for office,” Whitmire said.

The State: “STATE HOUSE: Proposal rejected to cut Lt. Gov.’s security detail”

Bakari SellersUpdate

The S.C. House rejected a budget amendment that would have cut $375,358 in funding for the lieutenant governor’s security detail on July 1.

Some representatives worried about how to pay for the State Law Enforcement Division agents who would be reassigned if taken off the detail.

The amendment was turned down by a 95-16 vote.

Original story

State Rep. Bakari Sellers, the only Democrat to announce a run for lieutenant governor this year, has introduced an amendment to remove $375,358 in proposed funding for a security detail for the state’s No. 2 office.

Sellers and Republican hopeful Pat McKinney said they would forgo security if elected.

“I believe it’s a waste taxpayers dollars,” Sellers said on the House floor.

The money would go back to the general fund, he said.

The S.C. House is going through the $24 billion budget this week, and Sellers’ amendments is one of many introduced.

Read more here:

Take kids out of public schools

I just read the most disturbing article this morning, and I want to make sure you see it, too. In an article for WND, one of my opponents for Lt. Governor, E. Ray Moore, said that he plans to improve South Carolina’s education system by taking children out of public schools and putting them in Christian schools and home schools.

The thought of removing students from our public schools as a strategy for improving them breaks my heart. Doing so would disrupt the lives of our children and parents and undermine the progress we’re already making to fix our public schools.

Moore also told WND that “[a] sub-theme would be ‘every church a school, every parent a teacher, every pastor a headmaster.” He claims that his plans would make South Carolina better, but it sounds to me like a huge step in the wrong direction.

Join me as I fight for our children and our public schools by contributing $25, $50 or $100 to my campaign today.

“Florence County Democrats gear up for 2014″


Bakari Sellers | MORNING NEWSGloria Bromell Tinubu told Florence County Democrats at their biennial convention Thursday that her first race for Congress in 2012 was just the “dress rehearsal” for the real production this year.

“Unless we exercise commitment and boldness to bringing our party’s perspective back to the table, it will never happen,” Tinubu said. “We have a wonderful opportunity this year to make it happen because people have seen the extreme behavior on the other side that resulted in government shutdown, a disrespect for the office of the presidency and a whole host of other things.”

Tinubu, who was heavy on message and light on policy in her remarks focusing lightly on education, minimum wage and infrastructure, is gearing up for another run against first term Rep. Tom Rice (R- S.C. 7). She won two out of seven counties in the district during the last race.

She plans to spread her message farther throughout the district, if chosen as the Democratic candidate. That message sounded like Rice when talking about job creation.

“They (children) graduated from school and either can’t find a job or the job they find is a job they could’ve gotten without the degree in the first place,” Tinubu said. “Shame on us. We must do better by our children. They deserve better, and we can do better so for met this is about the next generation.”

The next generation was one of the reasons newly elected Florence County Democrats chairperson LaShonda Nesmith said she ran for chair.

“We’ve got to get more youth involved,” Nesmith said. “We have to get them trained, recruited so they can get the word out. They’re tweeting. They’re Facebooking. We have to be there.”

Nesmith is also looking to tighten up races she thinks the county could change. Such as how Mitt Romney got just 347 more votes over Barack Obama in 2012, while Rice received 4,436 over Tinubu–though only 55 of the county’s 63 precincts are part of the 7th Congressional District.

“We need to be reaching these independent voters and find out what are their issues,” Nesmith said. “And we need to pass them on to our candidates.”

The only local elected officials on hand at the convention were Florence City Councilman Ed Robinson (District 2) and Florence County Councilman Alphonso Bradley (District 3), both of whom gave short remarks and are up for re-election this year.

State Rep. Bakari Sellers (D-Bamberg) also dropped in and told the crowd of nearly 100 members in the South Florence High School auditorium his plans for his lieutenant governor bid.

James Kennedy, an outspoken critic of downtown development, announced he would be file for the race against Florence City Councilwoman Teresa Myers Ervin’s District 1.

In a separate but related note, Republican Florence City Councilman Buddy Brand formally announced Thursday he was seeking a third term representing District 3. Fellow Republican and At-Large Councilman Glynn Willis formally announced he was seeking a second term on Feb. 1.

Read more here:

“SC legislation would increase penalties for domestic violence”

Carolina Live - Watch Now

A bill that would put stricter penalties on first-time domestic violence offenders in South Carolina is making its way through the state’s General Assembly.

State Representative Bakari Sellers, D-Bamberg, sponsored the bill.

“The goal of the bill is to make sure it (domestic violence) doesn’t happen again,” Sellers said.

The proposed bill would require an offender spend up to 180 in jail, instead of the 30 days under the existing law.

A 26-week counseling program and turning over firearms is also required.

“I felt pretty excited, pretty excited that something was being done,” said New Directions Executive Director Kathy Jenkins after finding out about the legislation.

New Directions is an agency that works with area homeless and domestic violence shelters.

She told WPDE NewsChannel 15 that extending the jail time for offenders would be helpful, because 30 days isn’t enough time to protect women in our area who use the shelters.

“Our shelter provides a safe haven for thirty days, so the timing is really bad for someone to get back on their feet and knowing that their abuser is also just getting out of jail,” Jenkins said.

However, Sellers said legislation can only help so much with a problem that is deeply rooted in our society and our state. South Carolina has ranked number one when it comes to the number of women killed by men.

“We have to change culture. We have to change behavior, and I can’t do that through legislation,” Sellers said.

The bill did not make it out of the House subcommittee last week.

Seller said it will be taken back up again on Thursday and expects a vote.

Read more here:

The Breakfast Club: Bakari Sellers Interview