We had the opportunity to connect with Phyllis Henderson, State House Republican Candidate, and learn about her platform, background and motives. Read her Q&A and get to know her!
How did you get interested in politics?
I’ve been a stay at home mom for most of my adult life. I worked at the Chamber of Commerce when I was first married, and that’s where I met Jim DeMint. I ran his first campaign for Congress in 1998, and then ran myself for the first time in 2000 for County Council and served as Chairman in 2003-2004, one of only two women in the history of Greenville County.
I was defeated in 2004, so I went back to taking care of my family and devoting my extra time to community work – I served as PTSA President at Eastside High School for several years, ran the Eastside volleyball tournament, served as “soccer mom” for the boys soccer team, helped with tournaments at MESA….and the list goes on. In 2010, when Bill Wylie passed way, I felt led to run for Statehouse, and have served there since. Being a citizen-legislator is a part time job. It was never meant to be a career. My family was and is always first. Now that my youngest has graduated from college, I work as a Development Officer at Roper Mountain Science Center. It’s a great place to work, and I enjoy it tremendously. It’s very rewarding to be a part of preparing the next generation for STEM-related careers.
Why are you running?
I am running for re-election because I want to make a difference in this state, this community, and in the lives of those that I represent. Right after I was first elected, I had a man call me whose son suffered from a rare disease and who was taking a costly non-FDA approved medication. Medicaid had denied coverage for his treatment for many years. I set up a meeting with officials at the Medicaid office for Mr. Jones and me. He showed up in Columbia with a 3” binder documenting his efforts. We sat down with at least a half dozen officials from HHS. Mr. Jones opened his binder and began to share his story. Immediately, one of the officials stopped him and said, “Mr. Jones, we are going to cover your son’s medication.” He froze. His head was down, staring at his binder. He couldn’t believe it! He looked up, with tears in his eyes, and said, “thank you.” I cried, too.
That’s when I realized I was called to use the power of my position to serve those I represent and to make this community and state a better place for us to live, raise our children, and do business. Under my leadership on County Council, we developed a new plan for parks that resulted in the expanded MESA soccer complex and the Swamp Rabbit Trail. In the House, I worked for 3 years on a transportation plan that resulted in funding for projects such as the I85/385 interchange project, Batesville Road improvements, and more. As co-chairman of the House Opioid Abuse Prevention Task Force, I worked on a package of bills that will combat this epidemic, including prescription limits, mandatory use of the Prescription Monitoring Program, and community distribution of naloxone. It also includes funding for a pilot program between GHS and FAVOR Greenville to place peer review counselors in the emergency room and get addicts into treatment programs.
What will be your top priority next year?
My number one priority will be continuing my work as co-chairman of the House Opioid Abuse Prevention Task Force. We had a very productive session in 2017-2018. passing legislation aimed at fighting the opioid epidemic. Among the bills we passed – and that I either sponsored or co-sponsored are bills that establish requirements related to prescribing opioid analgesics to minors, require opioid prescriptions to be written on tamper-resistant prescription pads that meet counterfeit-resistant standards, allow a presiding judge of a drug court pertaining to a specific case involving a designated person, coroner, deputy coroner, medical examiner, or deputy medical examiner who is involved in an official inquiry into the cause and manner of a person’s death to have access to the data maintained in the state’s Prescription Drug Monitoring database. In addition, new laws authorize pharmacists to prescribe opioid antidotes to certain community organizations to distribute to a person at risk of experiencing an opioid-related overdose or to a caregiver of such a person. After October 1, 2018 addiction counselors will be required to be licensed by the Department of Labor, Licensure, and must have a master’s degree or higher and meet the other licensure requirements imposed on professional counselors and marriage and family therapists.
We hear a lot these days about corruption in Columbia. What’s the problem?
I had an email the other from a constituent, who said: “I am reaching out to let you know that once again, we will be voting for you in the upcoming primary onJune 12th. We recognize the big money onslaught to unseat you and quite frankly believe you to be the voice we want to represent us in Columbia.” You see, this is exactly what is wrong in Columbia and why I have been fighting for stricter ethics laws ever since I was elected. This “big money effort” is being funded by a liberal environmental group that asked me earlier this year to support a bill that would require my constituents to continue to subsidize the solar industry, whether you have solar on your roof or not. I voted no. I say “continue” because in 2014, when the industry was first taking off, the General Assembly granted it a subsidy – to the tune of $2 per month by every single ratepayer in South Carolina. Now, the subsidy is expiring and the solar lobby, as expected, doesn’t want it to go away.
And so it goes, the big money lobbyists get rich off taxpayer dollars and we pay the bill. I just said “no”. And that’s why the liberal environmentalists are funding my opponent’s campaign. Some of the votes I take are easy – I am a 100% pro-life, pro-second amendment, pro- education. Others are difficult, like this one.
As Dr. King once said: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”