UPDATE – Proposed 60 housing development again

Seems like this is the 4th or 5th time an out-of-state developer has tried to use tax-credits to build a development near Ballentine Elementary that will cause even further infrastructure and crowding issues in our community.

Every time, y’all have reach out to me and let me know your concerns and I agree step in to help. This time there are 35 projects applying . While I do not get a vote on these matters. I do get to share my response and ask that you share yours as well.

To have your voice heard, you can do one of two things:

1) Email me directly at NathanBallentine@schouse.gov with the title “The Park” and I will forward you emails to the SC State Housing Finance and Development Authority

or

2) Email Laura Nicholson directly (please cc: me at email above) at her address: Laura.Nicholson@schousing.com

How many new laws since January?

Five and half years ago, the “State House Website” had some major changes (improvements) that helped enable everyone who visited the site to stay and be more informed. (Coincidentally the change came months after Governor Haley signed into law the bill she and I had pushed for years: On the Record Voting/Roll Call Voting ) Yes, I remember hearing from colleagues “why record our votes? People will use that against us”. Of course, I thought that was not reason enough to stop the push for transparency. In fact, that’s even more reason we needed to push for transparency: to record our votes. We also were told “recording votes costs too much money” and to this day, I still hear “this is such a waste of time” (especially with the budget where almost every vote on the first day or two is unanimous or overhelmingly lopsided 100-10 or something like that).

I was amazed at how user-friendly the new site was and I continue to be impressed with ongoing changes made to provide more information (usually). In fact, in 2015 our Legislative Services Agency was recognized nationally with an achievement award for (among others things) the innovations on our website. (Page 16 in pdf)

Earlier this year, someone pointed out a change that didn’t show our attendance votes in one easy-to-read page like they used to. I thought that was weird but was told that in last year’s campaigns, opponents were using website info (incorrectly)saying members weren’t there, when the reality was (and is) many members make it to the chamber after the recorded roll-call is taken. So while the website was showing not-present, most the time that meant not-present “right after prayer and pledge” when the roll-call was closed. After hearing that, I see now why many members back in the day were fighting all this transparency. Made me think back to last summer, when my opponent tried to make an issue out of me not voting 100% of the time because he was retired and could make the monthly meetings he had for County Council and supposedly “never missed a vote”. I don’t know any member who has ever done that in the House or Senate. Many reasons why. First, we meet 3 days a week for 5 months and take 1,000+ votes a year. Sometimes we may take 100 or 200 in a day (budget). Many of us (like me) don’t vote on “local issues” (like another county or district’s voting lines or school board make-up or…things like SC Native Plants Week). Many times we are in meetings in our offices, in lobby with constituents or others and miss votes. Sometimes we actually have a life and are called away (because of work or family) and aren’t present to vote. Heck, I missed one day of the budget and missed 170 votes. All those votes were like 100-2 (closest ones that day were 70-3 or 66-14 with all the others 90ish to 3).

Just recently, I came across the page you see above. People rarely know how many bills are filed, how many become law, and frankly – how bills BECOME laws . So this one page (“Legislation”) is really an eye-opener. If you haven’t been to the site, you should check it out. The video coverage is live streamed (a few seconds delay) and the “Chamber Dashboard” has bills and amendments LIVE as we debate. You get to see what House and Senate members see!

This site is also where you can contact your elected officials. Heads up though, most of us have “automatic replies”. While many replies say “thanks, I read them all but don’t reply”, I direct members of our community to be sure to put CONSTITUENT in the subject line or contact me here because it helps me respond much quicker.

Back to the title – how many new laws since January?

Depending on your preference, it could be viewed as “good” or “bad” that we’ve passed seventeen this session (and are 9 legislative days away from Sine Die). But that’s the reality. Each session may hold 2,000 bills and if 100 pass, that’s a big number! This session we’ve been bogged down with the ONE issue that I’ve heard about the most – ROADS. Three times the House has passed a roads bill. Hopefully the Senate will do the same THIS YEAR and we’ll have to see how it ends up in conference committee and what happens when Governor McMaster gets it on his desk. The threat of veto is there. Will it be delivered and can it be overridden is the question.

Autism – Ryan’s Law: SC a leader for the country

Every day in South Carolina parents hear the dreaded words from the doctor: “Your child has autism.” That moment changes their lives forever.

In March 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued their ADDM autism prevalence report. The report concluded the prevalence of autism had risen to 1 in every 68 births in the United States, more than twice the 2004 rate of 1 in 166.

This has forced the country to consider how to serve families facing a lifetime of supports for their children. A 2006 Harvard study estimates the lifetime societal cost of caring for a child with autism at $3.2 million. In the aggregate, Autism Speaks estimates the United States is facing $137 billion annually in costs for autism.

A big part of that cost is treatment. By far the most effective treatment is applied behavior analysis (ABA), which is endorsed by the U. S. Surgeon General and the American Academy of Pediatrics.

Parents fortunate enough to have insurance that covers the expense of ABA tell of dramatic improvement they see over time in their children. Words like “miraculous” and “stunning” are used, usually with tears. We’ve all heard their stories. We’ve all seen the tears.

The State of South Carolina moved to ensure health insurance coverage for children with Autism to receive ABA 10 years ago through the State Health Plan and some large group health insurance plans. However, there is a segment of South Carolina’s population that currently receives no coverage for ABA through their health insurance plans. The legislation I’ve introduced seeks to cover all South Carolinians.

Currently, the State Health Plan and large group policies cover ABA but South Carolinians in the small group and individual health insurance market do not have the ability to obtain health insurance coverage for ABA. Yes, you read that right. The State of South Carolina says its employees are entitled to coverage for ABA but doesn’t think those outside of the large group market should have coverage.

Ten years ago, South Carolina passed Ryan’s Law . That law was a bold step in the right direction, but it’s time to strengthen Ryan’s Law. Providing coverage for ABA therapy under the State Health Plan, large group health insurance plans and the current Medicaid and PDD Waiver programs is not sufficient to cover all of South Carolina’s children. Following South Carolina’s lead, 45 states now require ABA coverage for the citizens of their state. It’s time South Carolina finishes the job it started ten years ago.

ABA is covered for all state employees, including members of the legislature. This is a benefit all 170 members of the General Assembly receive. If it is important enough for us, it is important enough for hard-working South Carolina families, many of whom cannot afford life-changing therapy for their children without it.

The cost to extend health insurance coverage for ABA is approximately fifty cents per member per month. That’s a whopping six dollars a year to extend a benefit that directly impacts the quality of life when caring for a child with Autism. It has been found that there is relatively no fiscal impact to the State of South Carolina by extending this benefit to make sure all South Carolinians are covered.

Quite frankly, extending coverage for ABA to make sure all South Carolinians can be covered is just common sense.

Update from the State House – April 6th

At the start of this year’s session, my fellow House Republicans and I set out with a “Business Plan” addressing these key areas of importance in our state:

1.) Improving Education in Rural Communities
2.) Instituting Workforce Development through K-12 Computer Science Training
3.) Providing a Long-Term Solution to the Infrastructure Crisis
4.) Securing the Future of the Public Employee Retirement System

I’m pleased to report on Thursday, April 6th, the House adjourned for the Easter furlough period having completed each of those objectives.

Improving Education in Rural Communities
For too long, we did not adequately address the needs of our poor rural school districts. In a 2014 decision, the South Carolina Supreme Court ruled we must do more to address the inadequacies that exist from county to county. This year, the House budget appropriated $100 million for poor school districts to maintain and improve the environments in which children learn. We also increased per-student payments by $38 million, a $50 per student increase, placing the total base student cost at $2,400. These per-student dollars go to each school district to cover the state portion of public education funding.

Instituting Workforce Development through K-12 Computer Science Training
It’s no secret that South Carolina has the best pro-business climate in the Southeast. We’ve worked hard to recruit high-paying employers to our state, employers who expect us to ensure the next generation of workers is adequately prepared to fill these jobs. As part of that preparation, and in preparation for an increasingly competitive international marketplace, my colleagues and I passed legislation instituting computer science training beginning in the K-12 system. The earlier we introduce advanced technology to our students, the less we have to do on the back-end to prepare them for a high-paying job.

Providing a Long-Term Solution to the Infrastructure Crisis
Just under 1,000 people died on our roads last year. Due to the current state of our roads, it costs the average SC motorist an additional $1,300 – $1,800 annually to operate a vehicle. Each day, the average Palmetto State driver wastes an average of 34 minutes stuck in traffic. These facts and figures are unacceptable and saddening. In the House, we passed a pay-as-you-go road funding solution with DOT reforms and increased accountability. This week, the governor suggested we “borrow a billion” to fix our infrastructure woes (that would only fund one year and be paid by each of us for more than a decade). The Senate still has not passed any plan. Actually, they haven’t even taken up debate on ANY plan this year after filibustering our plan last year and doing nothing. I remain committed to addressing our infrastructure needs this year and will keep you updated on the matter.

Securing the Future of the Public Employee Retirement System
It was no surprise the state retirement system suffered during the Great Recession. The market decline coupled with poor management decisions resulted in unprecedented losses to the retirement system which had to be addressed. I am pleased to report that this week the House and Senate passed a conference report, now on the governor’s desk, bringing solvency to the system nearly every public employee depends upon. Our public employees are the backbone of everything we do in South Carolina, and the promises made to them concerning their retirement will be kept.

It is an honor to serve you and your family in the General Assembly. If you ever need of assistance navigating state government, or if you have ideas on issues you want me to share with my colleagues in the House, please don’t hesitate to contact me at www.nathansnews.com or by call me at my State House office, 734-2969.

COMMUNITY UPDATE: April 2017

Community Update

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STATE HOUSE
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We are approaching the final weeks of this year’s shortened-session . (Shortened after the Senate finally agreed with the House’s push for almost ten years!)

The first week of April is “cross over week” which means that if a bill is going to have any chance at becoming law before we adjourn until 2018, the bill has to at least pass one chamber before Thursday afternoon. If legislation does not pass at least one chamber, the other body will not be able to take up that bill without an overwhelming vote to do so.

Good news is that many bills have already passed one body (either the House or Senate). A major bill that have received attention (again) this year is “the roads bill” . Once again, the House passed a comprehensive plan to improve our state’s infrastructure needs. Last year the plan was filibustered in the Senate. This year, a Senate filibuster hasn’t started (yet) and the bill is not on priority status on the Senate calendar. It’s my hope (and many in the state) that the Senate will act this year. If they do not like the House’s plan, amend it. To simply not put forth a plan is not in the best interest of our state. Obviously, I support tax cuts as well; however, we could not get enough votes in the House and had to compromise to keep legislation and debate moving. If the Senate can insert tax cuts, I would obviously support that. If you live outside the area, please let your Senator know your concerns. Unfortunately, our community does not have representation at this time in the Senate.

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YOUR MONEY
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Another major bill up for debate during the important “cross over week” is “the bond bill” . For almost 20 years, the state has not borrowed money for capital needs for our universities/colleges and state buildings. Earlier this month, the House Ways and Means Committee approved a $500 million borrowing plan and now the full House is set to vote and send to the Senate for their consideration.

If you have not shared your view on whether now is an appropriate time for the state to borrower money, please comment below, email me, or call my office!

Should the bill pass the House, the big question is will the Senate add to the plan and what specific projects will be included? The House trimmed requests down from $2 billion and it’s my hope that the Senate will not add anything that would be considered a “local project” or “pork” to the bill.

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COMMUNITY
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RICHLAND COUNTY RECREATION COMMISSION: After months/years of mismanagement, a fix is in sight. Last month I was able to convince my delegation members to appoint Cynthia Wass Shepard from our community to serve as a commissioner. Cynthia will help restore public trust and confidence as a new board seeks to replace the former director.

IRMO CHAMBER OF COMMERCE: This month’s monthly luncheon will be held Wednesday, April 12th from 11:30 am to 1:00 pm at St. Andrews Presbyterian Church. For more details, visit the Chamber’s Event website.

CHAPIN CHAMBER OF COMMERCE:: The 23rd Annual Chapin Chamber Golf Tournament/Charlie Dorton Memorial Golf Tournament is Thursday, April 6th at the Timberlake Golf Course. Morning Shotgun 8:00 a.m. (Registration begins at 7:00 a.m.) Limited to 18 teams or 72 golfers. Afternoon Shotgun 1:30 p.m. (Registration begins at 12:30 p.m.) **A RAIN DATE HAS BEEN SET FOR APRIL 20TH, 2017. ** For more information visit the Chamber’s Events website.

BALLENTINE-DUTCH FORK CIVIC ASSOCIATION: Monthly Meeting is Monday, April 3rd at 6:30pm at Ballentine Park. There will be updates on the new “Welcome to Ballentine, Gateway to Lake Murray” sign which will soon be back up at the new Ballentine Library! For information on the association, please visit their website.

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OUR SCHOOLS
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DUTCH FORK MIDDLE SCHOOL – PALMETTO’S FINEST! Two weeks ago, Dutch Fork Middle School was selected as a 2017 Palmetto’s Finest School. The announcement aired live on SC ETV March 21. The South Carolina Association of School Administrators (SCASA) presents the awards each year to schools which offer the best in innovative, effective educational programs. The Palmetto’s Finest Award is celebrating its 39th year and is one of the most coveted and respected awards among educators. This announcement comes just a few months after Principal Dr. Gerald Gary was recognized as 2017 South Carolina Middle Level Principal of the Year!

CHAPIN HIGH SCHOOL – DR. AKIL ROSS: Also two weeks ago, Chapin High’s prinicpal was recognized by T The State as a Top 20 Under 40 professional helping to build the Midlands! This recognition comes just months after Dr. Ross was named 2017 South Carolina Secondary Principal of the Year. (Yes, that’s right. District Five has TWO PRINCIPALS OF THE YEAR FOR THE STATE!). As if those recognitions weren’t enough, Dr. Ross also was the keynote speaker last week at the Chapin Mayor’s Prayer Breakfast.


DUTCH FORK HIGH SCHOOL PRINCPAL RETIRING END OF YEAR:
After years of distinguish service in public education, Dr. Greg Owings will be retiring. Dr. Owings has earned a Lifetime Achievement Award from the SC Association of School Administrators and will be greatly missed in District Five.

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THANK YOU
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Thanks again for the privilege you give me to represent the Irmo/Chapin/Ballentine/Dutch Fork community! If you have events or people you’d like me to share with our community right here through Nathan’s News, please let me know and I’ll do my best to help!

I’m always eager to spend time with you at your Homeowners Association Meetings, Churches, and other civic events in the community! Let me know dates and times and I’ll work to be there!

Nathan Ballentine
803-734-2969
www.nathansnews.com
House of Representatives, District 71
Richland-Lexington Counties
320B Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29201

Your thoughts on state borrowing money?

Wanted to give you a look at what we will be debating tomorrow/this week in the House Ways and Means Committee.

Originally, we received requests totaling more than $2 BILLION !

I can assure you, I wouldn’t vote for that large an amount and I know my colleagues won’t vote for that much as well. Thanks to Chairman White, Subcommitte Chairs and the members of the committee, I believe should we pass our first bond bill in more than a decade, it would come with far less a price tag.

Take a look and let me know your thoughts/advice.

Proposed Housing – again?

While local zoning issues are county/town level decisions, from time-to-time members of the General Assembly are notified when an individual/developer is applying for state-tax-credits in their community. It seems that once again, the same out-of-state developer is looking to use state-tax-credits in our area. Seems I’ve written about this many times here at Nathans News and tonight, I’m writing again.

I have not seen official correspondence from the SC State Housing Finance and Development Authority; but earlier this month I received the letter above. VERY similar to letters in the past. When I hear from the state agency; I will again update everyone with the same instructions as in the past. Instructions to share your opinions with the agency.

You may recall, while the project in our area did not receive the funding (in part due to our overwhelming feedback), a development in the surrounding area (Lake Murray Boulevard) was approved.

Last week, I spoke with a reporter who asked about the changes in the Ballentine and surrounding area. I shared with him that it’s ovvious everyone wants to move here because of our outstanding schools and proximity to the lake and retail; we just need to be sure what’s being built doesn’t negatively impact our infrastructure and safety.

While I never have a vote on local zoning issues, in my role as a state official (with SCDOT), I will work to help reduce any complications from growth in the area. I ask that each of you stay informed and give your input to the decision makers that approve the local zoning changes in the Town of Chapin, Town of Irmo, or on Richland County Council.

Becoming a member of the Ballentine-Dutch Fork Civic Association is just one way to stay informed!

Below are previous posts related to these proposed projects in our area. Ultimately, each project was not awarded state tax-credits and the developer then decided against building without them.

July 19, 2016 Update Proposed Housing Development

UPDATE: Proposed Housing Developments

April 27, 2016 Update Housing Projects Proposes for Area

UPDATE: Housing projects proposed for area

March 29, 2016 Back again Proposed Housing Development Submits Application

Back again: Proposed Housing Development submits application

July 19, 2013 Not funded – Bickley Manor Project

NOT FUNDED! Bickley Manor Project

May 21, 2013 The Latest on Bickley Manor Project

THE LATEST on “Bickley Manor Project”

April 19, 2013 Another Update on Bickley Manor Project

Another UPDATE on “Bickley Manor” project

March 18, 2013 Update on Proposed Housing Development in Ballentine

UPDATE on proposed housing development in Ballentine

March 12, 2013 Your Input on New Proposed Housing in Ballentine

Your input on proposed housing in Ballentine?

Update from the State House – March 16th

Halfway through the session

Wednesday of last week marked the midway period for the legislative session, and what a whirlwind of activity it has been. With this years’ shortened legislative session, the crossover date for legislation has been adjusted and will now take place in about a month on April 10th. This simply means my House colleagues and I must pass any legislation to the Senate by that date in order for the bill to pass this year. We made good progress on that front this week.

Last year, our nation saw a drastic increase in anti-Semitic behavior among college students at institutions of higher learning. The nonprofit AMCHA Initiative, which tracks incidents of anti-Semitism on college campuses, reported 618 incidents of anti-Semitism for 2016 alone; a rise of over 30 percent in a one-year period. This week, we took bipartisan action to give our state-owned institutions of higher learning the tools they need to combat bigotry and hate while protecting freedom of speech. This legislation sends a strong message that South Carolina opposes bigotry wherever it rears its ugly head.

Two key bills also cleared the initial subcommittee process in the House Judiciary Committee. First, the South Carolina Unborn Child Protection from Dismemberment Abortion Act cleared a key initial subcommittee with a unanimous vote. It now heads to full committee and hopefully will come to the House floor before the crossover date.

The second bill of importance also clearing a key House Judiciary subcommittee this week was the Constitutional Carry bill. The measure put forth by retired law enforcement officer and pro-Second Amendment icon, Rep. Mike Pitts (R-Laurens), would eliminate the need to get a concealed weapons permit to carry a firearm in our state. However, this bill would also protect the existing CWP reciprocity agreements already in place with many other states. The measure now heads to full committee where, if approved, it will go to the House floor for a full vote.

If you feel strongly on either of those issues, I hope you will share your opinion and advice with me.

Finally, as you read this column, I hope the House has finished our work on the state budget. Budget sessions usually are hours long (we’ve worked through 6am once before) but I’m hopeful the plan we put together can be adopted by the Senate (obviously they will have some changes) so we can continue to maintain a budget that does not run deficits and invests in our state while living with our means. This was my first year on the House Ways and Means Committee so I’ve been involved more than ever before during my years of service.

It is an honor and a privilege to serve you in Columbia. If you need help navigating state government, or have any thoughts or concerns about what we are doing, please do not hesitate to contact me at www.nathansnews.com or by calling or emailing me at the State House: 734-2969 and NathanBallentine@schouse.gov.

The “Roads Bill” – we vote next week! Your thoughts?

February 9, 2017

House Ways and Means Committee Passes Roads Bill
Includes Long-term Funding and Governance Reform

(Columbia, SC) – House Speaker Jay Lucas (District 65-Darlington) issued the following statement after the Ways and Means Committee amended and adopted H. 3516 . The bill will be added to the House legislative calendar next week for debate in the coming weeks.

“South Carolina has the most dangerous roads in the country. Businesses and job creators continue to stress the importance of infrastructure repair as a necessity to further economic investments. For the past several years the General Assembly has allotted a significant portion of the general fund surplus to roads, but pressing needs for education, social services, and retirement deficits will require those monies this year. Our citizens have demanded that those who use our roads must be the ones to pay for repair, not just the South Carolina taxpayer. The House also understands that every dollar raised for infrastructure repair should be used solely for the intended purpose of fixing our roads and bridges, which is why additional funding will be placed in an Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund.

“A gradual increase to the state’s motor fuel user fee is the most responsible option to generate a long-term, sustainable funding stream for road repair. I will not support using general fund revenue for road appropriation again. House Majority Leader Gary Simrill and Ways and Means Chairman Brian White have worked extensively on this infrastructure plan and I commend them for their efforts. As the House roads bill moves to the floor for debate, I look forward to working with my colleagues to ensure its passage as fixing our roads is my number one priority.”

Provisions Included in the House Road Funding Bill:

• Creates an Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund
• Increases motor fuel user fee 10 cents/gallon over a 5 year period
• Biennial motor vehicle registration fee increase of $16
• Increases auto sales cap to $500 for South Carolina drives
• Capitalizes on out-of-state registered vehicles
• Creates biennial registration fees for all hybrid and electric vehicles
• Creates a motor carrier road user fee for out-to-state truckers
• Reforms governance of the SCDOT Highway Commission

(HERE IS ADDITIONAL INFORMATION – FROM ME – REGARDING THE SUPPORT AND OPPOSITION TO THE BILL, AS WELL AS ADDITIONAL DATA)

State of SC Department of Transportation 2017

Tax Foundation: State Gasoline Tax Rates

The State: The House’s roads bill would cost $60 a year for a driver who travels 15,000 miles a year in a vehicle that gets 25 miles per gallon

The State: Gas-tax hike a ‘last resort’ – Governor McMaster

SUPPORTS:
South Carolina Alliance to Fix Our Roads
SC Chamber of Commerce

OPPOSES:
Americans for Prosperity

Update from the State House – February 16

Finding a permanent funding stream to repair and upgrade South Carolina’s road system is the top priority of the legislature (as it has been for the last several years). But it’s not the only thing being debated in Columbia. Here’s a brief recap to keep you in the loop!


Gas Tax Hike a “Last Resort”

Gov. Henry McMaster met privately with House Republican legislators and told us he views any hike in the gas tax as a “last resort”. McMaster’s opinion is important because if he were to veto legislation raising the gas tax, it would take a two-thirds vote of the House and Senate to override the veto. Some viewed his remarks as not ruling out a gas tax hike, but merely labeling it a “last resort”. In a letter to President Donald Trump, Gov. McMaster requested that the President include two South Carolina projects in his national infrastructure plan. Emphasizing SC’s unique position as an economic driver in the region, the governor requested an appropriation of $5 billion from the plan to address state-specific infrastructure needs. Additionally, he asked for a $180 million allotment to fulfill the federal share for the deepening of the Charleston port to 52 feet.


Gas Tax / Roads Bill heads to House Floor

A bill raising SC’s gas tax and some other fees to put an additional $600 million a year in the state’s roads is on its way to the House floor. The proposal (H.3516) was unanimously approved by the House Ways and Means Committee. The bill would boost the state’s 16.75-cents-per-gallon gas tax 10-cents over five years and increase the sales tax cap on vehicle purchases from $300 to $500. Other fees are also included. It also would create a $250 one-time fee registration fee for people moving into the state. The bill creates the Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund to ensure 100% of revenues go directly (and only) toward fixing our roads and bridges and will not be used for new roads. If this legislation makes it through the House, it will face an uncertain fate in the Senate. You may recall last year, the Senate killed our “Roads Plan”.

Painful Pension Solutions

State government, as well as counties, cities and school districts around the state will likely have to pay more into the state retirement system over the next six years, under a bipartisan proposal recommended by a joint House-Senate study committee. The Joint Committee on Pension Systems Review unanimously recommended the state and its employees should contribute more to the beleaguered pension system, which faces a $20+ billion gap between what it has on hand and what is promised to future retirees. The recommendations will now be introduced in the House and Senate as separate bills. Obviously, we have many state employees in our area and I will be closely watching the bills as they move to the floor for full debate.

Concealed Weapon Permit Expansion

A House sub-committee advanced legislation (H.3240) that would allow concealed weapons permit (CWP) holders in all other states to also carry in SC. Our state currently recognizes concealed weapons permits from 23 other states that have similar requirements to get a permit.

Real ID Legislation Starts Moving

A House committee unanimously approved legislation (H.3358) that would bring SC in compliance with the federal REAL ID Act of 2005. If our state doesn’t comply with the federal requirements, SC’s driver’s licenses and ID cards won’t be accepted to board airplanes or enter federal installations and military bases. SC has had a waiver for more than a decade, but that will likely run out unless legislation is approved. Stay tuned.

Enhanced Government Transparency

Legislation that would significantly enhance the cost and ease to use the SC Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) cleared a final committee vote and heads to the House floor for a vote. This bill (H.3352) enhances those laws and makes compliance easier and cheaper for both government entities and those seeking government documents alike. The pro-transparency measure would streamline the current process used by citizens and the news media seeking access to government documents. After all, government at all levels belongs to you and the FOIA process is intended to ensure the business of the public remains public.


Business License Reform

Current state law allows counties and cities to levy business licensing fees if they operate within those jurisdictions. They collect more than $300 million annually. For years the business community has sought reforms to this structure to reduce the burdens placed on them. This pro-business reform legislation (H.3650) that would allow for a central online registry for business licenses across the state cleared a key House committee and heads to the House floor for a full vote. This is another highly contested bill and Rep Huggins and I have heard from every Irmo Town Council Member as well as the Mayors of both Irmo and Chapin as to the impact locally. Hopefully some sort of “fix” can be found that helps businesses while not impacting our local governments tremendously.


Vet’s Tuition Bill

For the past three legislative sessions the House has passed bills that waive the one-year waiting period for a veteran to attend a SC public college or university so they can pay in-state tuition rates and avoid the costly out-of-state tuition. Each time the bill has died in the Senate. The House is persistent. This week, for a fourth time we passed the bill (H.3035) on a vote of 109-4 and sent it to the Senate.


Clean Energy

A bill aimed at attracting investment to SC’s clean energy industry passed the Senate. The Senate voted 38-4 to green light the Renewable Energy Economic Development Bill (S.44) and send it to the House. The bill would allow land that’s currently unused or being used for agriculture to be used as a solar farm, creating tax revenue to counties. If bill becomes law, SC would be on similar footing with neighboring North Carolina and 28 other states that have enacted similar legislation.

These are just some of the topics in Columbia this week. I encourage you to stay informed by visiting my website www.nathansnews.com and letting me know your thoughts or questions about topics important to you and your family!

If I can ever be of service, please let me know.