Representative Tim McGinnis —Republican – District 56 (Horry)
Rep. McGinnis was first elected to the S.C. House in 2018. He currently chairs the Higher Education Subcommittee of House Education and Public Works Committee and the Education and Cultural Affairs Subcommittee of the House Legislative Oversight Committee.
Before his election to the House, Rep. McGinnis’s 20-year journalism career was highlighted by serving as a news anchor for WPDE, the CBS affiliate for Myrtle Beach.
Rep. McGinnis and his wife currently own the Famous Toastery restaurant in Myrtle Beach.
We are honored to feature S.C. Representative Tim McGinnis in this month’s SCICU Legislative Spotlight. We asked Rep. McGinnis seven questions about himself, his career, and the role higher education played in it.
1. When you attended college, did you have a particular professor or class that made an impression on you? If so, how?
Public speaking. I always felt I could be a good public speaker but didn’t have a lot of experience at it, and I was insecure speaking to people I didn’t know. That class helped me break down those barriers and led to my career as a broadcaster and didn’t hurt me as a politician!
I attended Georgia Southern University. Dr. Beverly Graham was the professor, and she’s still there.
2. Is there something you learned in college that you apply on a regular basis?
Organizational skills were much needed, and what college really helped me do was organize myself so that I’d have the time necessary to focus on projects and do well on them.
3. Why did you decide to run for election as a member of the S.C. House of Representatives?
I was in TV news for 20 years starting as a photo journalist, moving to news reporter and finally a news anchor in Myrtle Beach at WPDE. But my wife and I had been talking about starting our own business and in September of 2016 we opened the restaurant “The Famous Toastery” and in February of 2017 I aired my last broadcast.
Just six months later, the person who held my seat, Mike Ryhal, announced he was resigning. I knew Mike and other public officials because politics was my “beat.” One evening Mike stopped by my home and asked if I might be interested in running. Well, I have a tough time saying no. I’d always had an interest in holding office, but I thought it would start at the local level, but here we are!
4. Is there a legislative achievement of which you’re particularly proud?
I don’t point to one large achievement, but moving forward issues that help people. For example I’ve pre-filed legislation to give our Horry County Council the discretion to charge higher impact fees for residential developers instead of commercial developers – that will help pay for the infrastructure needed by the construction of new homes.
NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) was the first bill I presented on the floor. In college sports it’s the wild west right now and If we didn’t have rules we’d be losing players to other states. Once I explained that, I think the vote in the House was unanimous. This year I’m going to introduce a resolution encouraging Congress to address the issue so when it comes to NIL, we’ll have a level playing field across the country.
5. Along with being a member of the S.C. House you have been a TV news anchor and currently own a successful restaurant. Is there a common thread connecting the three? Did college prepare you to succeed in these ventures?
The one thing that connects them all is service. I took a political science class with Dr. Roger Pijari, who helped me and countless other students understand that government isn’t a chess game, or Jack Ryan, but that its ultimate purpose is serving the people. Through classes like Dr. Pijari’s and internships I was inspired to go into journalism because I saw it as a kind of service. We’re providing to the public facts and accountability. In the restaurant business we partner with the community and help raise money for important causes. And the ultimate service for me is holding state office.
6. If you could pick another career, what would it be?
I always wanted a law degree, but the one regret that I didn’t pursue a career in the U.S. Marines. In my mid-20s I almost went to my Marines recruiting office. In fact, I should have done that after high school.
7. Students are now attending the spring semester. What advice would you have for them?
Don’t be afraid to go the extra mile. Nobody gets anywhere by sitting on the sidelines. If you want something you have to make an effort to make it happen. The people who get ahead in life are the ones that put themselves out there.