COMMUNITY UPDATE: May 2010

*** STATE HOUSE ***

We’re into the final weeks of this two-year session and the House has passed several bills of significance since my last Community Update. Briefly, I’ll list a few that might interest readers.

H 4657 (conference committee likely) “The Budget”
H 4282 (in Senate) Bans Texting While Driving
H 3305 (on ballot November,2010) Constitutional Amendment allowing secret ballots for union elections
H 3442 (became law) Creation of Department of Workforce
H 3047 (in Senate) Spending Accountability Act (aka “ On-the-record Voting “)
H 3396 (on ballot November,2010) Constitutional Amendment to increase state’s General Reserve Fund
H 4248 (became law) Criminal Background checks for substitute teachers and others
H 3584 (overrode Gov veto) Cigarette Tax increased by 50 cents
H 3418 (in conference committee) Voter ID bill
S 191 (overrode Gov veto) SC Reduction in Recidivism Act of 2010 (aka “Warrantless Searches)
H 3645 (still in Senate) Lose driver’s license if dropout of school

*** YOUR MONEY ***

Can the House and Senate agree on a budget this year? Or more likely, when will a budget pass?

Let’s not kid ourselves, there simply is little will to “shut down government” in Columbia (which obviously we should NOT do; however, it could get to that point). However, instead of making some tough decisions or fighting for constituents and taxpayers , many members will hold their nose, make a vote to pass the budget, and end the session and come back in January (or earlier to deal with vetos). Trust me, the budget always passes; but this year it might be one of the closest votes I’ve seen in six years.

Just weeks ago, after an all-night session, the House barely mustered up enough votes (64-52) to send the bill to the Senate. Nathan’s News readers already know a few of the sticking points that will need to be addressed this week or next before final passage of some version of state spending can happen.

Look for House Democrats to play the role of “fiscal conservatives” this year and fight against fee increases placed by the Senate. If approximately 15 Republicans join too (which, last I checked Republicans should be conservative), that’s enough to keep anything from passing the House.

Gonna be interesting. Definitely will see some arm-twisting and deals being cut. While the House has 124 members, honestly only 20 (if that) craft the budget. Perhaps if more were given a role in the process, things could be smoother. I don’t have all the answers but I do know many officials feel disenfranchised with the process. Imagine how the people of the state feel?

*** COMMUNITY***

Next month voters across the state go to the polls for primary elections (Republicans and Democrats). Here locally, we’ll be voting for our Richland County Councilmember. Bill Malinowski (incumbent) is being challenged by Ronald Colley . As you know, I don’t endorse in local contests and am willing to work with anyone the community decides to elect to represent us.

Later this fall, we’ll have elections for Lexington/Richland School District Five Board of Trustees. I always say education doesn’t have an R or a D behind it, so regardless of party, be sure to vote for who you think can best serve our community and children.

Thank you for your continued support of my service to the area. I’m honored to finish my third-term as your Representative and look forward to continuing work for more responsible government and lifting our state to higher ground in the near future.

*** SCHOOLS ***

On a personal note, I can’t believe J.C. is almost done with kindergarten (RiverSprings) and that this week will be the last time we drop one of the kids off at Gateway Baptist PreSchool (Emma). Sarah’s looking forward to Chapin Middle next year while JC and Emma will be “back together again” when they both go to Lake Murray Elementary.

I’m in the final stages of awarding this year’s Ballentine Scholarships . I have several more finalists to interview and every year I’m very impressed with the students our community graduates.

The past few weeks, I’ve seen several individuals from the area visit as shadows for Representative Huggins or myself or to see what goes on in Columbia. I’ve also enjoyed welcoming our outstanding teams and students to the State House. The next State Champion to stop by will be the Chapin High School 3A Boys Tennis Team who defeated Camden this weekend for the state title. I look forward to recognizing Coach Rodgers, team leader Kyle Koch and the rest of the young men for this accomplishment that will stay with them a lifetime.

Once again, I’ll be present to see all three area high schools walk across the stage next month at Carolina Coliseum. Our district graduates some of the brightest young men and women who will go on to college, military or workforce and make our community proud. Congratulations to the Class of 2010 (and the parents)!

** THANK YOU **

Thanks again for the privilege to return to Columbia and represent the Irmo/Chapin/Ballentine/Dutch Fork community! If you have events or people you’d like me to share with the community 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!

Please contact my office, 734-2969, or contact me here through Nathan’s News anytime
I can help!

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