COMMUNITY UPDATE: May 2008

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

If you have events you’d like me to share on the site, please email me at BallentineN@scstatehouse.net and be sure to put the word CONSTITUENT in the subject line so that I can reply to your email before the hundreds of others I receive daily.

STATEHOUSE

This week saw longer hours in the chamber for the House (and Senate) as bills needed to pass one chamber and be sent to the other by today (May 1st) in order to have any chance of becoming law this year.

What I’d like to briefly share are two items of interest here locally and statewide. One is the Cost-of-Living-Adjustment bill(s) for State Retirees and the other is Immigration Reform.

You may have read earlier on this site about what transpired on the COLA bill(s). Nothing has changed since then. There have been repeated tries to get the new COLA bill (without legislators’ retirement included) to the floor but those have been stopped. The Ways and Means committee did at least debate the bill we sent back (so they could remove legislators’ retirement) but they voted not to send the bill to the floor. Remember, this bill has recommendations from a State Treasurer’s Task Force for ways to stabililze our current retirement system. (Of course, those recommendations did NOT include putting us legislators in there. Go figure.)

On the Immigration front, stories vary depending on who you talk to about the situation. I’ll simply say this: The Senate and House both passed a bill earlier this year and that bill was sent to a conference committee (to iron out the differences so that we both have the same bill; a requirement for ratification and ultimate passage). For one reason or another (primarily the difference of opinion on keeping the “I9” verification in the bill), the conference report has not been signed and therefore no vote taken by both bodies. Today, the Senate gave final reading on a NEW immigration bill (the “I9” is out…but a new SC-Verify system is in). I believe this bill (and possibly the state budget) will consume most of the discussions over the final weeks of this two-year session that is scheduled to come to an end on June 5, 2008.

YOUR MONEY

QUESTION: Should elected officials be required to take a roll-call vote on any legislation that spends tax dollars?

I’d like to hear from you. Seems OBVIOUS to me. This bill was introduced by Representative Nikki Haley (R-Lexington) after (in response to?) the COLA situation a few weeks ago.

Oftentimes, bills are passed on a “voice-vote”. This means no one really knows how individual members voted. In what I have called the “year of transparency” (earmarks, financial disclosures) it seems this is another step we need for more accountability in government and elected officials.

COMMUNITY

Today, May 1, is the National Day of Prayer. If you haven’t prayed already today (or don’t pray daily), I’d ask that you stop for a moment right now and pray.

Tomorrow, May 2, the American Cancer Society’s Relay for Life begins Friday, at 7pm at Chapin High School. For more information, call 750-1693.

The Lake Murray Association is having their 10th Annual Pontoon Tour of Homes on May 17th. For tickets call 359-2880. Tickets are $30 per person.

The Lake Murray Triathlon will be held May 18th at Dreher Island State Park. A 750mt Swim, 16Mi Bike, and 5Km run will certainly test the competitors. Register Online at www.SetupEvents.com. Bring your children for the Kid’s Triathlon at Harbison Rec Center on Saturday, May 17th (www.cyclecenter.com)

The Irmo Little League held their Opening Day festivities earlier this month. You can see a clip of that day’s events on video located on the main page. The coaches, parents, volunteers truly do a lot of work for the league and our children!

To see more of your neighbors and friends in our community – click on the “Meet Your Neighbor” blog posts throughout the month on this site. In April I spotlighted: Harrison Hall, Mark Keel, Janie Davis, Reggie Gallant, Elizabeth Mattos-Ward!

SCHOOLS

Last week, Lexington/Richland School District Five recognized volunteers, mentors, and business partners of the year! The list is long but you see everyone of these wonderful folks by visiting the district website here.

Next week, I will interview the finalists for the 2008 Ballentine Scholarships. This year we had our most applications since inception three years ago. I want to especially recognize the members of this year’s committee for their hard work in promoting and screening applications so that I can award financial scholarships to very worth high school seniors in our area. Thank you to Susan Mazur, Chairman; Ann Ballentine, Past-Chairman; Louise Burkholder; Nancy Epting, and Sherri Murdock.

THANK YOU

Thanks again for visiting the site! Please let your friends and neighbors know about it so that they can stay as informed as possible. As you can see, I try to write often and regularly update photos from our community as well as videos.

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.

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