Get to know your Gamecock caucus member: The Honorable Rita Allison

After attending John Robert Powers School of Fashion, Rita spent many years teaching self-development and self-improvement. A small business owner for some 15 years gave her skills to use in the political arena. As Special Programs Director for Springs Industry-Lyman she worked with ages three through retirees in all types of educational and recreational areas for some 30 years. This gave her a real feel for the needs of all ages.

Ask her what her biggest blessings have been other than her faith, family and friends, she will tell you the opportunities to be of service to others.

A former member of the District Five School Board of Trustees for eight years, President of the South Carolina and United States Jaycee Auxiliaries, South Carolina Outstanding PTA President, Board of Directors for Miss South Carolina Pageant for over 30 years, official traveling companion for Miss South Carolina to the Miss America Pageant for 28 years, Board Member for R.D. Anderson Vocational School for 8 years are all among her accomplishments.

As a member of the State Speakers Bureau she enjoyed speaking to schools, churches and civic organizations on current issues and positive direction in life.

She was married to the late Ron Allison, former President of Tri-State Chemical Company and they have one daughter, Katina Allison Degler, son-in-law Ron and three grandsons, Nichols, Jacob and Wren. She and her family are members of First Baptist Church of Lyman.  

She served in the South Carolina House of Representatives (1993-2002). It was an opportunity she was dedicated to and thankful to fulfill. She served on the House Ways and Means Committee and Chaired the K-12 and Special Schools Sub-committee. She also served as Vice Chair of House Operations and Management Committee, Joint Legislative Committee for Families and Children and in 1994-96 she served as Chair of the S C General Assembly’s Women’s Caucus. She has also served as Chair of the Spartanburg County Legislative Delegation, organized and chaired the GOP Women’s Caucus and was Assistant Majority Leader in the S.C. House of Representatives.She is an active Board Member of the Middle Tyger Community Center in Lyman and the Board of the J. Verne Smith Human Resource Center in Greer, S.C. She also served on the Greer Development Board, serves on the S. C. Commission of the Blind Foundation Board, the SC Office of First Steps Board and the Board for Senior Centers.

Rep. Allison has sponsored legislation for Education, Domestic Violence, Child Abuse(served on Ad Hoc Committee to strengthen the Children’s Code) Tax Reform (served on Ad Hoc Committee to study tax reform) School Choice(served on Ad Hoc Committee to study school choice) Retirement System review and Economic Development issues. She sponsored the Partial Birth Abortion legislation that passed in South Carolina. Character Education Legislation and Health Issues for the young and elderly.

She was awarded “Legislator of the Year” Award by the National Foundation of the Blind of South Carolina for her work with access technology for the blind and impaired community, as well as her work to bring the Visually Impairment Curriculum to USCS.  She also has been presented the “Legislator of the Year” Award by the S.C. Victim’s Right Group, The Association for the Deaf, South Carolina School Board Association, S.C. Adult Education Association, the S.C. Vocational School Association and the SC Vocational Rehabilitation Association for her work with each group. She was honored by the Spartanburg BPW Club and Breakfast Club as their “Career Woman of the Year for 2000”, which allowed her to compete and receive the State BPW “Career Woman of the Year.”

Rep. Allison was presented the “Miss South Carolina Woman of Achievement Award.” She was nominated by Victoria Wilson, Miss Camden, who is from Lexington, S.C

After an unsuccessful campaign for Lt. Governor for the great state of South Carolina, Rita served as one of eight people on Governor Mark Sanford’s Transition Team. In January of 2003, she took a position with the administration as one of Governor Sanford’s Education Advisors and later served the Governor as Legislative Director. She also served the Commission on Higher Education as their Director of Communications. She was awarded the first Terry Haskin’s Legislative Leadership Award for outstanding service to our state and the prestigious “Order of the Palmetto”, the highest honor given by the State of South Carolina. On Monday, November 10, 2008, she was sworn-in, again, as a member of the SC House of Representatives from District 36 in Spartanburg and Greenville Counties. She served on House Ways and Means Committee, served on the K-12/Special Schools sub-committee and chaired the Sales and Income Tax Committee. She also served as Vice Chair of the House Operations and Management Committee and served on the SC Statehouse Committee. She is active in her district, serving on the Middle Tyger Community Center Board. She continues to be an advocate for children and families in South Carolina serving on the state board for First Steps to School Readiness and recently was presented Legislator of the Year by the Greenville Children’s Hospital.  2015, Speaker of the South Carolina House appointed her as Chair of the House Education and Public Works Committee (first Republican woman to chair a major committee in the House and the first woman in a decade to chair a major Committee) She is also chairing the SC House Education Task Force on Policy and Reform which will present a report to the House in 2016 in answer to the Abbeville Court Case. She has received the Woman of Distinction Award from the SC Girl Scouts and in 2016 Rep. Allison was honored by the Riley Institute with the David Wilkins Award for outstanding work as a SC Legislator.