COMMUNITY UPDATE: October 2007

Here’s this month’s regular update to keep you informed of what’s going on in the State House and in our community.

Remember, when you send me email, please place the word CONSTITUENT in the subject line so that I can reply to your email before the others I receive daily. Even when we’re out of session in Columbia, the email volume is tremendous.

By now, you’ve obviously found my new website (www.nathansnews.com) and I hope you’ll visit often. I “blog” about two or three times a week and those entries can be read by clicking on “blog” in the top menu bar on the home page, or by clicking on “news”.

The blogs/entries on the front page are the “most read” and there are several videos and photos that will regularly be updated on the site as well.

STATE HOUSE

With all 170 members of your General Assembly up for re-election next year (that’s every House member and every Senator), you can bet it will be an interesting campaign season.

I’m curious to see how that effects members’ voting on several issues next year too.

As you know, I have worked hard the past three years to support most of Governor’s Sanford’s agenda (although I’m not in lock-step with every idea he has). I’m hopeful others will join as we try to move South Carolina forward. Unfortunately, it appears personalities may have kept us back and could still be keeping us back.

It will be interesting to see how Reform SC and other third-party groups will work to influence future elections. In the past, we’ve seen several out-of-state groups involved (and that’s the case all over the U.S., not just South Carolina) and I’m curious to see more and more in-state groups grow their memberships and involvement. South Carolinians should determine the fate of South Carolina – seems logical to me.

Regardless of whether I agree or disagree with whatever group is involved, everyone has the right to express his opinion and I’d rather see more involvement in the political process than less. Sadly, too many people stay at home on Election Day. Sure political races often become ugly, negative, and stray from the real issues; but if you can look past all that and make informed decisions, you will have done your part in advancing our community, state, and country.

YOUR MONEY

While we have been out of session the past few months, we have stayed busy focusing on ways to improve our quality of life in South Carolina. I have been moving forward with a group (smaller in number than I’d like) that is concerned about the amount of spending in state government. We are hopeful to implement legislation or House Rules in 2008 that can help provide more sunshine on the budgetary process. Similar to what US Senator Jim DeMint is doing in Washington, we are trying to hold everyone accountable for spending your tax dollars. Any ideas you have, please share with me. For now, we’re looking to require budgetary items to have the House or Senate’s sponsor’s name or state agency’s name on the request as well as more details to how the actual money will be spent. For example, seeing “Midlands Regional Water Facility” is not enough description for me/us/you to make an informed decision. What we should know “Is it a water treatment facility or is it a water park? Where in the Midlands is it located? Have we exhausted local efforts?” Questions like that needs to be raised during the process instead of from the House Floor in a rather quick discussion/debate.

COMMUNITY

Two important votes are coming up next month and I wanted to be sure you were aware so that you can make informed decisions. The Town or Irmo will hold elections for Mayor and Council Members while Lexington/Richland School District Five will have a bond referendum.

The Richland County Sheriff’s office is providing free classes on prevention tips and safety suggestions through the Community Action Team. The classes are open to any resident in Richland County and will be held at Friarsgate Park. Upcoming classes are: Personal Safety (October 2), Robbery Prevention (November 13), and Identity Theft (December 4). Classes start at 7:00 p.m. Please contact the Sheriff’s Office to register (free) your attendance.

We have some truly outstanding folks in our community – some at such a very young age! If you missed the story and video on Andrew Talkish (Chestnut Hills Plantation) you must check it out and see how this five year old is making a difference through his recycling efforts in our area.

Last weekend was Homecoming at USC and the Class of 1957 had their 50th Reunion! None other than our own Parker Evatt (Chapin), former Representative in the South Carolina State House, was involved and served as Co-Chairman for the event.

Last month, new beauty queens were crowned in Irmo. Miss Jessie Richards is the 2008 Miss Greater Irmo and will represent Irmo in the Miss South Carolina contest. Also crowned last month was Janie Davis, Miss Greater Irmo Teen.

SCHOOLS

No surprise….our District leads the state in SAT and ACT scores!

High school students in Lexington/Richland Five scored the highest composite SAT scores in South Carolina in 2007. Since 1993, District Five students have earned the highest average SAT score in the state for all but four years.

The overall district composite score rose eight points over 2006 scores to 1065. The composite scores of all three District Five high schools were among the top 20 high schools in the state. Over the past ten years, SAT scores in Lexington/Richland Five have risen by 36 points.

Seniors in Lexington/Richland Five also improved their average score on the ACT college entrance exam this year. District Five’s overall composite ACT score of 22.1 was higher than state and national composites. For the second year in a row District Five’s score were in the top two districts in the state.

THANK YOU

Thanks for visiting the new site! Please let your friends and neighbors know about it so that they can stay as informed as possible.

You have given me a great honor by choosing me to represent you in the South Carolina House of Representatives and I remain as committed as ever to staying in touch. Please contact my office, 734-2969, or email me at BallentineN@scstatehouse.net anytime I can be of service to you or your family.

During the summer and winter months, it may take a little extra time to have your email returned – but please know that I read everyone I receive!

Nathan Ballentine
www.nathanballentine.com
House of Representatives, District 71
Richland-Lexington Counties
320A Blatt Building
Columbia, SC 29221