2006-03-31 / Government / Neighborhood

Women's legislative history on one page

By Rachel Haynie

Rep. Denny Neilson, first vice chairman of the SC General Assembly Women's Caucus; Rep. Vida Miller, second vice chairman; (standing) Rep. Shirley Hinson, chairman.Rep. Denny Neilson, first vice chairman of the SC General Assembly Women's Caucus; Rep. Vida Miller, second vice chairman; (standing) Rep. Shirley Hinson, chairman.

Women legislators' cameo images graced the back cover of the program for last week's luncheon of the S.C. General Assembly Women's Caucus. This was the first time they have ever appeared together in a composite.

"The most recent addition was Cathy Harvin of Summerton who was elected to her seat a few weeks ago," said Edie Purvis, executive director of the Women's Caucus. "Linda Hornsby, who works with the legislature's data, did such a great job of getting all 68 of those pictures together into a format everyone at the luncheon could enjoy seeing. For SC, this is women's history on one page."

Held annually during Women's History Month as the Jean Laney Harris Memorial Luncheon, the event has become a time to recognize the contributions women are making in the legislature. Harris served in the S.C. House of Representatives from 1979 until her sudden death in 1997. Members of the late legislator's family were recognized from the podium.

Joining the Harris family were luncheon guests from all over the state who converged on Seawell's Restaurant to show appreciation for the representation women are providing at the State House. Rep. Shirley Hinson, Chair of the Women's Caucus, welcomed the gathering; Rep. Vida Miller, 2nd vice chair led the Pledge of Allegiance to the Flag.

USC political science senior Bryan Haskins, son of Rep. Gloria Haskins, sang the National Anthem, and Rep. Denny Neilson, 1st vice chair, gave the invocation and explained the luncheon's purpose.

A highlight of the midday event was special music by beach music legend Billy Scott of the Georgia Prophets. Scott planned a surprise serenade for retired Clerk of the House Sandra McKinney who made women's history by being the first woman in that position. When McKinney was unable to attend the luncheon, the chairman of Beach Music Association International sang his chart topping "My Kind of Girl" to the chair McKinney was to occupy.

Rep. Catherine Ceips of Beaufort introduced executive speech coach Deb Sofield who represents Greenville on the Commission of Public Works for the Water System. She is the first woman to hold this position.

Popularity of the annual luncheon has grown over the years. It is now considered a rallying event for women in elected positions throughout the state. Plans for next year's event are already in the works.

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