Gov. Nikki Haley is preparing to deliver the official Republican response to the president’s final State of the Union speech tonight. She’s couching the speech as her own “address,” and its one of her first major moments in the national Republican spotlight. On the other side of the aisle, DNC Chair Debbie Wasserman Schultz says the choice of Haley was no accident: “It’s pretty clear that Nikki Haley is being chosen because the Republican Party has a diversity problem.” Source: The State, NPR, Politico

State investigators are reportedly looking into complaint of “irregular accounting” within Charleston County Schools as the district continues to work its way out of a surprise $18 million budget hole discovered late last year. Source: P&C

P&C editorial: “Mayor Tecklenburg takes the reins”

South Carolina Statehouse lawmakers return to Columbia today to kick off the new legislative session. The top issues are likely to be: Gas taxes to boost roads spending, rural education, and infrastructure in general. Source: The State, AP

Seven Republican candidates will take the stage on Thursday when the GOP presidential horserace comes to town for a televised debate hosted by Fox Business Network. Lower-polling candidates will appear in a pre-debate debate (Paul, Fiorina, Huckabee, Santorum). Source: P&C

Record production by BMW Manufacturing in Greer has buoyed the Port of Charleston’s volume, handling mover 250,000 vehicles last year, more than double the previous year. Source: G’ville News, P&C

Clemson fell short of fulfilling its national title hopes last night, losing to Alabama in one of the more exciting, fast-paced national championship games in recent memory. Despite Clemson QB Deshaun Watson’s record-setting performance in the game (476 total yards), the Tigers couldn’t hold Alabama’s Heisman-winning Derrick Henry, who rushed for three touchdowns on his own. Source: P&C, SBNation, ESPN