#EveryDayWithEmma

If you follow me on Twitter or Facebook , you know who the apple of my eye is! #EveryDayWithEmma

Frankly, I bet any dad out there will readily admit their little girl has him wrapped around his finger.

I came across this opportunity just now and wanted to be sure all the local dads knew about it. For less than $5 you can spend some quality time with your little princess and make memories tonight.

My Mom tells me as much as I love being a dad, it’s nothing like being a grandparent! Time’s moving too fast as it is….I don’t want to even think about that!

One other thing I want to share. Many of you know about F3 that I “joined” over 3 years ago. If you are male between the ages of 18 and whatever, you should give us a look. We are more than a “workout group”. The reason I share today is that during the summer we have F3Dads workouts where our 2.0s (that means “kids”) join us and get to see a little of what it’s all about. Emma (and JC) have joined me out there and it’s just one more way to make memories while you can! If you want to know more about F3, visit www.f3nation.com. Our Region is Lake Murray (where we regularly have 70+ men at workouts each morning in the area). The Columbia Region (primarily downtown and Northeast) has around 100+ guys regularly at workouts. Lexington is by far the largest with almost 200 men on any given day working out and getting better! F3 is Fitness, Fellowship and Faith!

Cleaning up Columbia!

Took me some time to personally read though every one of your surveys. Thank you for taking the time to share your opinions and advice with me!

The questions were simple and the results not surprising. Good to see I’m not alone in how I feel about problems we’ve been facing (recently and in years past) as well as issues that are important to our area.

Almost 93% prefer term limits for either House and Senate Chairmen or members. ( Primary sponsor 2009, 2010 , 2012 , 2014 , 2016 )

Even more (95%) believe “dark money” (from outside campaigns) should report their contributions and expenses. ( Primary sponsor 2008 )

More than 93% believe convicted elected officials should lose their benefits. ( Primary sponsor 2014 , 2015 , 2017 )

In the links above, you can see these are issues I believed were important in the past and, based on your overwhelming responses, I will continue to support until we can get legislation passed.

Besides that overwhelming agreement above from the community, the top 2 issues from survey responses were Education (listed as #1 on 32% of the responses) and Taxes (listed as #1 on 30% of the responses). Issues I’ve been working on since I was first elected.

Lastly, several people mentioned other concerns besides cleaning up Columbia….roads were mentioned many times (and I will continue to hold SCDOT accountable for how they spend our tax dollars) as well as many issues with Richland County: waste, zoning/development concerns, etc. Local issues like those are best served by our local councilmembers (Richland and Lexington) and, when state support or legislation is needed to be addressed, I’ve been there for those times.

I can’t thank everyone enough for their feedback. I’ve asked many times and each time you have provided me what I need to better serve our area and provided me the support I need to change the status quo in Columbia.

Didn’t get a survey? Have more advice? Feel free to contact me here and let me know what’s on your mind!

Business Champion – SC Chamber of Commerce

“Great to be recognized as a Business Champion again for our state!” – Nathan Ballentine

2017 SC Chamber of Commerce Legislative Scorecard

2017 Legislative Overview

Written by the House Research Office as a summary of major legislation enacted this year. The overview does not refer to the budget provisions that have been vetoed by the Governor

During the first year of the 122nd South Carolina General Assembly, lawmakers approved comprehensive infrastructure funding and governance legislation (H.3516) that includes reform measures for the operation of the Department of Transportation and provides, along with $105 million in ongoing yearly tax relief, new, recurring revenue sources to allow an additional $625 million each year for addressing South Carolina’s deteriorating roads and supporting the infrastructure system needed for public safety, quality of life, and economic development. In order to increase infrastructure funding by an estimated $177 million in the first year and an estimated $625 million a year upon full implementation, the legislation increases existing fees and establishes new fees to allow for more effective collection of revenue from all those who make use of South Carolina’s roads, including out-of-state residents and businesses. The legislation provides for an increase in the state’s motor fuel user fee of 12 cents a gallon that is phased in gradually with an increase of 2 cents each year over the course of six years. The increase is expected to generate $69 million in the first year and ultimately allow for an additional $480 million each year for the state’s roads. An increase is phased in for the C-Funds that are distributed to counties which ultimately allows for an additional $53 million a year for repairs, maintenance, and improvements to the state secondary highway system. Provisions are included for a $50 million DOT Rural Road Safety Program. A $16 dollar increase is provided for the state’s biennial motor vehicle registration fees to generate an estimated $25 million a year. New fees are established for vehicles that make little or no use of the gasoline and other motor fuels that have been the traditional revenue source for infrastructures needs. Biennial fees of $60 for hybrid vehicles and $120 for electric vehicles are established to generate an estimated $1.35 million a year. The state’s motor vehicle sales tax is replaced with an infrastructure maintenance fee. For a vehicle purchased in South Carolina, the one-time infrastructure maintenance fee is set at 5% with a cap of $500 and is collected by dealers at the point of sale. The fee is expected to generate $74 million each year. For a vehicle purchased in another state and registered in South Carolina, the one-time fee is set at 5% with a $250 cap. Collected by the Department of Motor Vehicles upon initial registration, the fee is expected to produce $20 million a year in previously uncaptured revenue. Active duty military, spouses, and dependents are exempt from this fee for transferring vehicles into the state. In order to collect revenue from out-of-state truckers, a motor carrier road use fee is imposed on large commercial vehicles that is expected to generate $9 million a year in new revenue. Almost all of the new revenue generated by the legislation is to be deposited in a newly-created Infrastructure Maintenance Trust Fund to be used by the Department of Transportation only for repairs, maintenance, and improvements to the existing transportation system. The legislation includes a restructuring of the Commission overseeing the South Carolina Department of Transportation that retains the commission’s geographical representation and adds an additional at-large position, with all nine DOT commissioners appointed by the Governor, subject to a legislative approval process. All nine DOT commissioners serve at the Governor’s pleasure and may be removed without legislative approval. Provisions are included to remove the Commission from decisions involving the day-to-day operations of the Department of Transportation. To prevent conflicts of interest, Commissioners are prohibited from participating in such matters as awarding contracts and selecting consultants. As the state’s fees on gasoline and other motor fuels are gradually increased, a Motor Fuel User Fee Rebate program is established that allows a refundable income tax credit that covers the amount of the increased motor fuel user fee or the amount spent on preventative maintenance, whichever is less. Phased in over several years, the rebate program is capped at $114 million in the sixth year and is scheduled to expire in 2023, unless it is reauthorized. A non-refundable tax credit is provided for lower income workers. Phased in over the course of six years, the credit is expected to provide $43 million a year in tax relief when fully implemented. The state’s dual wage earner cap is gradually increased over the course of six years from $30,000 to $50,000. When fully implemented, the increase is expected to provide $19 million in tax relief each year. The refundable tuition tax credit is increased from 25% to 50%, capped at $1,500, for both four-year and two-year higher education institutions. The increase is ultimately expected to provide $7 million in tax relief each year. The legislation provides for a manufacturing property tax adjustment from 10.5% to 9% over a six-year period. Ultimately expected to provide $35.8 million in tax relief each year, the state is responsible for reimbursing up to $85 million in lost local revenue.

Legislators approved (H.3352) enhancements to the Freedom of Information Act provisions which guarantee citizens’ access to government proceedings and public documents. The legislation adjusts time frames for responding to FOIA requests to require more prompt compliance from public bodies and revises fees that government bodies may charge for copying documents and other compliance costs to better ensure that they do not become prohibitively expensive. Enforcement provisions are revised in an effort to make them more effective. The rarely-utilized misdemeanor criminal penalty for FOIA violations is eliminated and unfulfilled FOIA requests may instead be pursued through civil actions. The legislation makes provisions for expedited hearings in the circuit court for FOIA lawsuits brought to compel a government body to provide access to public documents.

The General Assembly approved legislation (H.3221) that establishes a statewide program for addressing unsound school district finances which affords the State Department of Education authority that extends beyond academic matters to include fiscal affairs. Provisions are made for three escalating levels of budgetary concern so that the State Superintendent of Education can declare a ‘fiscal watch’, a ‘fiscal caution’, and a ‘fiscal emergency’ with regard to school district finances. The succeeding levels of budgetary concern carry increasingly stringent requirements for school district recovery plans, audits, and inspections as well as more intensive technical support from the state department. Should a school district’s finances warrant the most severe level of concern, prompting the State Superintendent of Education to declare a ‘fiscal emergency’, the State Department of Education is authorized to take intensive steps including assuming control over the district’s financial operations to preclude a default on any type of debt and prevent further decline in the district’s finances.

Lawmakers approved legislation (H.3220) reestablishing the South Carolina Education and Economic Development Coordinating Council to review the progress, results, and compliance with the Education and Economic Development Act and to make recommendations for better achieving the act’s goals of implementing career pathways in the state’s public schools and fostering a better prepared workforce and student success in postsecondary education.

School performance ratings were revised in legislation (H.3969) establishing a single public education accountability system that meets both state and federal requirements. Under the uniform provisions, a school’s report card measures the combined academic performance of its student body using the ratings Excellent, Good, Average, Below Average, and Unsatisfactory. [Read more…]

UPDATE on COMMUNITY COOKOUT

We’re 8 weeks away and already over 100 RSVP’s for this year’s big event!

Thanks to the financial contributions from Sponsors, Hosts, and Supporters, community residents can attend for FREE. Be sure to RSVP though so we can get a ticket emailed to you prior to the big night.

For those that have made it to the cookouts in the past, you know it can get crowded at the Rusty Anchor/Catfish Johnny’s for this event.

I’ve been told 300 is the max we will be able to hold, so don’t wait til the last minute and we not have room or enough food/drink for your family. We’ve run out of food before; don’t want that to happen again!

Above on the flyer are the names of local elected officials who have confirmed they will attend. I expect more to confirm once they know their summer schedule, so check back here to see those updates.

This is your chance to meet and interact with these officials in a CASUAL SETTING. No suits and ties at this event! It’s Lake Murray in August and that means..Purple Martins and HOT TEMPERATURES!

To read and see more about past Cookouts, click here.

Karen and I hope to see you and your family this year! Kids welcome! Every year we see more first-time attendees. If you’re a first-time attendee, be sure to let us know!

Your Ballentine Library – GRAND OPENING!

When I say GRAND opening – it sure was!

This morning I was excited to join Branch Manager Kelly Jones , Director Melanie Huggins and other Richland County Public Library (RCPL) Board Members as our community got their first chance to come inside and see this new, first-class facility!

As I mentioned during the ceremony, “we’ve come a long way!”

If you’ve been in the area awhile, you remember the days when we only had a Book Mobile visit and provide a very limited amount of books. Ten years ago, we were able to have a store-front location which finally gave us a place to call home – instead of heading over into Lexington County and using their facilities.

Today, we saw the results of a community coming together and sharing what they wanted from their new library. For months and years, the RCPL gathered input from kids, adults and seniors in the area. The RCPL were determined to meet the needs of the community – and that, they have!

It was great to see Gayle Sneed (former driver of the Book Mobile) there today; still working for the library! These pictures above, do not do your new library justice. Take time to stop by and see all that it offers. Your library is truly an asset that our community can use and benefit from for many years to come!

Governor McMaster’s first budget veto message

One of the most important roles in the General Assembly is being a good steward of your tax dollars.

I take that role very seriously and every year am one of the House Members who usually sustains many budget vetoes (that means, I agree with the message for the veto). I used to catch a lot of grief for this back in the day (first elected, new guy, “that’s not what we do around here, Ballentine”). Since then, members realize that I’m voting as I feel is best – AND – based on feedback from the people I represent.

You can imagine the “peer pressure” back when someone had a project in there and you were telling them you can’t help them. But, as I wrote many years ago, I was elected to represent my constituents and the best interests of the people – not any friends in the House or Senate.

With that said, now is your time to let me know your thoughts on Governor McMaster’s first budget vetoes . Unlike years past, the General Assembly won’t return in the coming weeks to consider these vetoes. It appears we may wait until January 2018 and take our votes then. Every year, you’ve given me great feedback and information I did not have previously. If you have a strong opinion one way or another (to override or to sustain the veto), please let me know.

Comment below, contact me here , or email me at NathanBallentine@schouse.gov (please put CONSTITUENT in the subject line) and give me your advice. I would appreciate it!

2017 Legislative Update and Survey – great feedback!

As I do regularly, I am asking again for your feedback on what issues are important to you so that I can spend the next several months considering and drafting legislation to help move our state forward.

Whether that’s cleaning up Columbia, improving education, lowering taxes, improving business climate, protecting our natural resources….or any other issue….I want to hear from you!

If you have not received your survey yet, please contact me here and let me know your mailing address in the community and I will be sure to get one to you.

SAVE THE DATE: Community Cookout – August 9th!

WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 9TH, 6PM – 7:30PM
RUSTY ANCHOR AND CATFISH JOHNNY’S
1925 JOHNSON MARINA ROAD
CHAPIN, SC 29036

It’s that time again where I bring all our local elected officials together for an opportunity for you to meet and mingle in a casual setting! No stuffy suits or ties. Shorts and flip-flops are perfect!

For more than a decade, I’ve had a regular COMMUNITY COOKOUT and get great feedback from the community! Many attendees are “first time guests” who have moved to the area or never been involved in politics before.

We ran out of food the first time back in 2004 (I didn’t expect such a large turnout); but ever since there’s always been food, drink, music and good times for everyone! Last year we had to limit it to the first 300 RSVPs – so don’t wait too long to let us know you and your family will be there!

As usual, we’ll get together at The Rusty Anchor and Catfish Johnny’s out here off Johnson Marina Road. Jim LeBlanc has already confirmed he’ll entertain us again.

More details and RSVP information in the weeks ahead! I look forward to seeing you and your family out there again!

If you’d like to help sponsor this year’s cookout, please contact me here . I’ll go ahead and also take RSVPs if you’d like to get them to me already!

For a look back at previous cookouts over the years, click here.

SC lawmakers working overtime to cover House vacancies

Vacancies leave 200,000 unrepresented in SC House

BY AVERY G. WILKS
awilks@thestate.com

About 40,000 Lexington County residents lost their voice in the S.C. House last week when state Rep. Rick Quinn was indicted on public corruption charges and suspended from office.

But District 69’s voters – including about 4,000 who also lost their state senator to the State House corruption probe earlier this spring – soon learned they were being adopted.

“I promise to work with other Lexington County representatives to make sure you’re not forgotten and that help is just around the corner,” state Rep. Nathan Ballentine, R-Lexington, told the district’s registered voters in a robocall last week.

Call it a sign of the times.

As legislators return to Columbia to pass a budget deal — assuming one can be made — some S.C. lawmakers will be working overtime to cover the more than 200,000 residents who have lost their representatives in the S.C. House this year.

State Reps. Jim Merrill, R-Berkeley, and Quinn were suspended after being indicted in special prosecutor David Pascoe’s State House corruption probe. Both has denied any wrongdoing.

Former state Rep. Chris Corley, R-Aiken, resigned in January after his indictment on criminal domestic violence charges.

Former state Rep. Ralph Norman, R-York, resigned his seat in February to focus on his successful GOP primary run in a race for Congress. And state Rep. Joe Neal, D-Richland, died unexpectedly just days later.

Meanwhile, the Senate has lost one of its members to Pascoe’s probe, state Sen. John Courson, R-Richland.

That has left some residents with no lifeline when their roads need fixing, when government red tape needs clearing or when a personal issue comes before the Legislature.

Lexington state Reps. Ballentine, Chip Huggins and Todd Atwater publicly have offered residents of Quinn’s district their help. Ballentine also is considering mailing postcards to District 69 residents who may not check their voicemail or social media.

Read more at The State