COMMUNITY UPDATE: June 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 we’re in the last three days of our current two-year legislative session. It’s sure to be filled with activity as we’ll continue with the Governor’s Vetoes (Budget and Cost of Living Adjustment for State Retirement System, among others. FYI, I will override the COLA veto.) and will surely see several bills fight to become law this week or else die and start the process again next January.

This time of year everyone is generally in a defensive mode to stop things that might otherwise “slide by” because of the rush of our last week. Some bills may slide by but others (rightly or wrongly) might get stopped just because of members not having sufficient time to know and understand how the other body (House/Senate) amended the bill in the last days/hours of session.

If you have any legislation important to you, please let me know! At this point if that bill is not listed on the calendar of the House/Senate and already passed by the other body, it has no chance of becoming law.

Later this month, I plan to blog about Major Legislation passed this year.

*** QUESTION: What is one issue you wanted to see passed, reformed, or changed this year that the General Assembly/Governor did not address? ***

YOUR MONEY

Last Thursday I was pleasantly surprised as I witnessed a first in my four years of service. The House was looking for ways to save money for taxpayers and actually sustained 3 of 3 budget vetoes! But then, something happened…

“Veto week” is always tough on me and other fiscal conservatives but it appears this year we have some new folks joining the cause. Could it be because some have primary elections on June 10? Could it be because of the November elections?Who knows? I’m just glad to see us stop what can often be called pork or special projects.

Let me be clear, if state tax dollars are going to be used for a program, I want to be sure the STATE benefits – not just one particular county/town/organization. Presently, I plan to sustain a large majority of vetoes but am looking to override the S-CHIP (children insurance) and maybe an Indigent Defense Fund, Rural Dentists Veto, and a small handful of others.

Most items – while they certainly may be worthwhile projects – should not be funded with state tax dollars; but instead, local tax dollars or private donations (corporations, individuals, etc). When I and others sustain vetoes, we are not voting AGAINST the merits of those programs (necessarily) but rather that (a) state tax dollars should not be used for the project and/or (b) other state obligations should be priority at this point.

COMMUNITY

Join the Richland County Public Library’s Summer Reading Clubs and get rewarded for reading! Children, teens and adults can register at any RCPL location between May 31 and August 14. If you haven’t visited our newest library (The Link, Ballentine), you are missing out! Special Summer Reading Club celebrations will be held throughout the summer. Stop by any library location to pick up a calendar of events or visit www.myRCPL.com. Specific programs include: 2008 Summer Reading Club and Read-to-Me Club for ages 12 & under…Explore the world of books and feed your imagination at the library. Special recognition is given to children who read five, 10 and 15 books. Children too young to read can participate by having others read to them. Get Real, Get Reading (Get Stuff) for teens….Read or listen to five books and you’ll get rewarded for reading with cool prizes and a coupon for a free book from a Friends of RCPL Book Sale! One lucky reader will win a MP3 player. Sponsored by Geiger O’Cain Advertising and Chick-Fil-A. Read and Relax! for ages 18 & up….Cool off with summer reading and win! Everyone who reads five books will earn a small prize and a coupon for a free book from a Friends of RCPL Book Sale. Eleven lucky readers will win a $50 gift certificate to The Happy Bookseller and a Friends of RCPL book bag. One grand prize winner will receive a MP3 player. Sponsored by The Happy Bookseller, the Friends of RCPL and Geiger O’Cain Advertising.

The Irmo Little League will be hosting a 2 day tournament, starting June 4th, with Teams from the Ft. Mill area, Newberry, and Columbia, SC. This is the Tournament of Champions. Each League will send their Major League season champion to compete for the title. Irmo Plays at 6pm Wednesday. Irmo Little League will also host the Little League Coach Pitch Tournament, Minor League Tournament, and the 11yr old Tournament. Everything starts June 12th. I hope you can come out and see the kids play.

The Friarsgate Park Advisory Committee is in the beginning stages of being formed. Please take an active role if you use the park or you’re a resident of the Friarsgate Neighborhoods. The organization meeting will be held at the park onMonday, June 23 at 6:30 pm. Contact Andy Hastings, Director, at andy@rcrc.state.sc.us for more information.

SCHOOLS

Friday is a busy day for Lexington/District School District Five! I will be present again for all three high school graduations: Chapin, Dutch Fork, and Irmo. Our district is blessed to have such wonderful young men and women graduate and become active members of our community, state, military, and colleges and universities.

Speaking of these men and women, I would like to mention the 2008 Ballentine Scholarship Winners who will be recognized from the State House floor this Wednesday. The Bernard Carroll Ballentine Scholarship (USC): Chris Campbell, Irmo High School. The John Dewey Winburn, Jr. Scholarhsip (Clemson): Ashlyn Ruczko, Chapin High School. The Theodore Nanney Scholarship: Michael Hicks, Dutch Fork High School.

Lastly, while I serve at the state level and not on the School Boad, I did want to let my opinion be known as the District seeks advice for upcoming policy changes to our school clubs. Here’s an excerpt from my email to our School Board last month….

“As I mentioned at Jerry’s funeral, courage is displayed in many ways. Personally, I applaud Principal Walker’s stand. As expected, when anyone stands for his or her beliefs and values they often face criticism. Eddie is a fine man and any early departure from Irmo High School will be more detrimental to the student body than the potential benefit from a current or future club.

Two years ago the General Assembly and the voters of South Carolina overwhelmingly defined marriage between a man and a woman. While this proposed club may represent California values, it does not represent the values of our School District, community, or our state.

Thanks for your consideration.I know whatever decisions you ultimately make will be what each of you feel is best for our School District. I look forward to seeing everyone at graduation next Friday and if I can be of any assistance to you at the state level, please call or write anytime!”

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.

While we will not return for the next session until January 2009, please know I am just a phone call or email away. If you have a civic organization, church, or homeowners association meeting or event – I would love to attend and hear from your members.

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